This is an audio version of my website, adamstoner.com.
About Adam Stoner
I graduated with 1:1 BA (Hons) in Radio Production from the University of Gloucestershire in 2016 and have been producing radio, digital, and design content for the UK's children's radio station, Fun Kids, ever since.
You can find out what I've been up to at the end of each month – including what I've been reading, writing about, and listening to – by following this podcast and subscribing to my newsletter at adamstoner.com.
Email me: email@example.com
It's 2018 and I've just purchased a Doxie portable scanneron the recomendation of Ryan. Although it won't happen for another two years, my family are gearing up to move house and I am systematically scanning then permanently destroying every bit of paper I have.
Family albums, polaroids and film photos, flyers, brochures, tickets and clippings, certificates, contracts, payslips, receipts, insurance documents, medical records – everything but my passport and birth certificate – all slipping through the slither of scanner light and into a literal shredder.
Photos are being loaded into Apple Photos; the face identification, location and date search suddenly making them much more browsable and sharable. Sensitive documents are being loaded into end-to-end encrypted Tresorit; I always have access to a copy of everything no matter where I am in the world. Physical paper ribbons, recycled.
Flash forward to the present-day and I've managed to keep my paper stash relatively small. I actually use the amount of paper waste I generate and keep as a self-check mechanism to ensure I'm following my values.
Unsurprisingly, I've been cash-free for a lot longer than I've been truly paper-free. With the exception of paying my hairdresser (the last cash-only person I interact with although I'm sure I could do a bank transfer if I really wanted to), I haven't touched physical money since the middle of 2019. Rishi Sunak has launched a taskforce exploring the possibility of a digital pound and I'm betting the UK's new polymer bank notes will probably be the last printed.
This desire to eradicate paper (and clutter in general) from my life has become somewhat fervent. Of course, there are still bits of paper here-and-there that creep into my life, mainly thanks to the supposedly mandatory statements from legacy institutions like banks, councils, and insurance companies. For your sake, this is a kind reminder that you don't need your insurance certificate to hold valid insurance (you just need to be able to produce one within seven days when requested), you've never needed your polling card to vote (you just need to be registered and know which polling station corresponds to the address you're registered at), and you do not need to keep your receipt to get a refund on faulty items. Shred them.
As for what's left of my physical mail, I'd gladly pay Royal Mail a per-page fee to scan, shred and send that to me electronically. I can't think of any form of paper communication that can't exist that way. You don't even need to post me a debit card – I already use Apple Pay and my primary current account surfaces the card details in the app! Royal Mail should have become either a package courier or newsletter company a decade ago.
As far as products go, some of the greatest in the world come with next to no paperwork. You should take it as a sign of brilliant product design if the thing you've purchased comes with no manual. Apple products come only with legal info and the bare minimum in the form of a manual, as do Dyson, who alongside their legal obligations include just a QR code for an online product walkthrough.
Even for the most sensitive things, we're moving toward digital solutions. The 2021 Census was carried out digitally, my prescriptions are dealt with electronically, and my paycheques are delivered via email. In 2017, Natwest launched paper-free mortgages – a process that was previously very paper-heavy.
We are on the edge of a new era. Paperless-everything is quickly becoming the norm and whilst a time where paper doesn't exist at all may sound like one of those futuristic ideals, I think we'll see it for everything but books, newspapers, and magazines this decade.
Stone, leather, paper, cloud.
Read this post at adamstoner.com/paperless
Noah Kalina, Kraig Adams, Prince Philip
As hospitality and service sectors both in the UK and around the world reopen, it feels a little like the theatre curtain is lifting – not after interval (with sticky ice-cream fingers and some slight discomfort because the line for the restroom was too long to even bother) – but at the start of the show.
The return to normality has been most marked by the headlines. For the first time in almost a year, we're seeing stories other than death-counts and carefully choreographed press conferences. Stuck ships, super leagues, and lobbying seemed to be the flavour of this month. And whilst the news is hardly ever good, it is very much good news to have other bad news in the news...
Making the most of the relaxed restrictions, I've gone to a VR gaming centre, done archery, roamed through forests, and even rode a heritage railway in the Forest of Dean in the past fortnight. Lots of those exploits are coming to Activity Quest, the podcast I produce at Fun Kids, soon.
Here's what else I've been up to this month:
The bells of the local church tolled 99 times for Prince Philip's funeral on April 17th leading to an odd dichotomy of muted (and mistimed) ringing against birdsong and sunshine. I wrote about his death hours after it happened, reflecting on 'the almost disaster-movie-like interruption of the media schedule for it' and how Philip serves as a poignant memento mori. You can read that at adamstoner.com/death.
I've been doing a lot of thinking about the future of blogs and personal websites in the age of podcasting and other platforms. I've got a good track record for predicting with fair accuracy where these kinds of things are heading and newsletters-as-social media (hi 👋) and platforms like Facebook and Twitter repositioning audio as a first class citizenmakes me question why anyone would bother creating a personal website in 2021 – just use a podcast feed.
Someone who's been thinking similar things of recent is YouTuber Kraig Adams. His podcast is an interesting listen. Streamed first on Twitch with questions fielded from fad app Clubhouse, it blends radio phone-in with as-live commentary and semi-scripted anecdotes. It also means Twitch sound-effects like messages accompanied by donations (which are read out automatically in a robotic voice), and new subscribers are forever burned into the audio.
In terms of other things I've been listening to, Lana Del Rey released Chemtrails Over The Country Club not that long ago and Vampire Weekend released two 20 minute, 21 second remixes of their song 2021, in an EP called 4042.
In the world of newsletters, photographer Noah Kalina's one is witty and weekly. This month, he drove with his chickento the idyllic sounding Pepperidge Farm (spoiler alert: just a brand name), shared some beautiful shots of a local river he's been time-lapsing, and wrote about a wall.
In terms of other things I've read this month, Konfekt – the female-targeted equivelent of Monocle – landed on my doorstep with a literal thud. It's 205 pages of culture, dining, travel and design in a MacBook Air sized mag. I know it's MacBook Air sized because its acted at times as a stand for my new M1 MacBook Air...
The M1 is Apple's first chip in a computer and my new M1 Air is lightning fast. Even apps that aren't yet supported on Apple's chip (some of which are made by multi-million dollar companies like Adobe and Avid – poor show, there's very little excuse, certainly months after the M1 was released) work faster than their Intel counterparts. Overall, I'm very happy with it.
Finally, this past weekend marked a milestone birthday for my Dad. We built an arbour and played croquet to celebrate...
Read the full thing at adamstoner.com/pink
There are very few events that warrant the complete seizure of attention that the death of Prince Philip had on the news agenda just yesterday.
I don’t have a living memory of 9/11 or 7/7 so at the age of 25 the death of Prince Philip — and the almost disaster-movie-like interruption of the media schedule for it – is the closest thing I’ve gotten to what feels like a world-stopping moment. Even the truly world-stopping pandemic had its press conferences scheduled.
We tend not to focus on the millions of day-to-day choices and interactions that have culminated in to who we are today and will continue to compound into who we become. Instead, we look back – in that final second – at an entire lifetime of work. Acknowledge it or not, we all are making our way to that final second.
I'm a republican (in the sense that I believe anybody should be able to be Head of State) but Philip's death serves as a memento mori – a reminder that even the mightiest and most God-ordained die.
Changing my mind in public
I've always reserved the right to change my mind and do so publicly. It's just easier.
When quizzed on their opinions, I've seen friends make split-second decisions that, when given longer to think about, they plainly disagree with. For fear of being seen as a hypocrite, they continue down the path of their original argument and make a mountain fit to die on.
One of the most painful examples of this happening in my own life occured many years ago when I was invited to publicly defend Starbucks in an argument on big versus small business. My only qualification was that I liked Starbucks at the time and my argument was that if independent coffee shops were failing it was because the product they offered simply wasn't good enough. This is obviously nonsense, something I realised two minutes into the debate but stuck with for another 43 minutes for fear of not only letting down the organiser but also appearing to be wholly unprepared and poorly educated.
I'm changing my mind today.
I'm usually very good at spotting early trends – I began writing my newsletter in 2017 (before your uncle had one) – and for the past few years, I've been sending that newsletter to friends, family, colleagues and internet strangers. Every time I have, a version of it has existed on adamstoner.com behind a free-to-enter paywall.
As of today, every one of those is public.
One week ago, I said that I was launching a weekly paid-for version of that same newsletter and that for £2 a month (£18 a year) you could subscribe to it.
I'm changing my mind today.
After lots of thought and despite an uptake that was more than I could have wished for, I've realised that paywalling content is against my values. In the same way I believe all businesses – Starbucks and independents – should have equal and fair access to a competative market, I believe my content is better free because I have more to gain from that personally than your money.
As well as that, it would also have made many elements of my podcast paywalled, something I've been staunchly against when others have done the same thing, especially when the content was once-upon-a-time free.
In short, it wasn't a fair exchange. If you took out a subscription, you have been refunded, your subscription cancelled, and your payment details removed. Thank you nonetheless.
It is too much work at the moment for me to go back and change every entry and edit every podcast episode to eradicate references to the fact they used to hide behind paywalls. I think to do so would also be disingenuous. Every article that was behind a paid-for or free-to-enter paywall now comes with an alert at the top.
My newsletter will continue to send as it always does and members of the public are welcome to sign up.
You should know that this change forms part of wider thinking about what I want my internet presence (website and podcast) to be. For the longest time, my thinking was that you should be able to consume my content wherever you like, from YouTube to podcasting apps to my very own website.
I'm changing my mind today.
My podcast is no longer on YouTube because I feel YouTube is not a good platform for consuming content that is primarily audio and text based. You're welcome to subscribe to my podcast wherever else you listen.
It's worth emphasising that all of my other core values are much more longstanding and remain the same: Your details are not for sale, you are not tracked by social media or analytics companies here, and I never advertise anything for cash or clout or accept things for free in return for a mention. Those are mountains I am willing to die on.
Over the coming weeks, I will likely be changing or updating my website frequently as I try to decide what works.
Subscribe to my free email newsletterSubscribe to my podcast wherever you get
Vaccinations, Mysteries of Science, Vanilla Ice
Read this full post at adamstoner.com/worm
Spring reminds me of optimism – everything's coming back to life after a period of downtime – and around work and writing, I've been doing a lot of reflection on where we've all come from since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak last year.
As I mentioned months ago, I've been learning more about astronomy this year, namely the moon and the cycles of time it goes through. I find comfort in the idea that no matter how bad your present is, you're never far away from a new cycle of time: 29.5 days in the case of the moon. Native Americans call this last full moon of winter the Worm Moon after the worm trails that would appear in the newly thawed ground.
A syringe symbolises the end of the pandemic and the slow-at-first-then-all-at-once return to some kind of normal. Newly thawed ground. With so much talk of the vaccine being a literal passport, I hope both you and I are able to get our hands (arms) on one soon and then the 'See you soon!' I type at the end of every newsletter might begin to have some truth to it...
Here's what else I've been doing this month:
I fell back into Canadian band Marianas Trenchearlier this month. Astoria, the title track from the album of the same name, is really good. Featuring Bohemian Rhapsody guitars, Bowie-inspired vocals, an R&B breakdown, and even some barbershop, the six-minute Jesus of Suburbia kicks off an album that continues in the same vein, co-opting Jackson 5 hooks and more.
I wrote about Apple's HomePod Mini in my last email and have since put one in every room I can. Like all smartspeakers, it depends too much on TuneIn so I find launching some radio stations – particularly BBC ones – troublesome. When it fails, I just listen to something else. As somebody that works in the radio industry, that deeply worries me. As a consumer, I couldn't give less of a shit.
In the world of podcasts, I've been working on something new with The Week Junior team called Mysteries of Science. The first episode comes out on April 1st (no, it's not a joke) and is all about the Loch Ness Monster. Follow the podcast right now so you don't miss that when it lands.
I've been reading (listening to) A World Without Email this month by Cal Newport. I am not somebody that believes every waking moment of their life has to a mission in productivity but Cal's tips have proved remarkably useful.
Queued up to read (listen to) this month, I've got: Around The World in 80 Trains by Monisha Rajesh, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck by Mark Manson, and Why We Get The Wrong Politicians by Isabel Hardman.
Bad Movie Club with friends Jack and Jess continues on Discord every Friday night. This month we've watched National Treasure 2 (6.5/10 on IMDb), The Kissing Booth (6/10) and its sequel (5.8), Fateful Findings (4.7) which is reminiscent of The Room (3.7), and Cool As Ice (2.9) staring Vanilla Ice. I know the format of this newsletter is recommendations but these are more just FYI.
Less bad things I've watched this month include Snowpiercer which is still streaming weekly on Netflix – a double-bill to end its second season expected Tuesday – and the very bingeable Calls on Apple TV+. Holy shit, you have to watch Calls. Please!
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Security and effectiveness of a digital census
Read this full post at adamstoner.com/census
March 21st is census day in England and Wales and an important milestone because the 2021 census is the first mostly-digital census ever conducted here.
A digital census has its obvious benefits, namely that statistics can be gleamed immediately on the available data. What interests me is not the results of the census but the data security and privacy implications that a digital census inherently has and whether, considering we already share so much of ourselves anyway, a census is fit for purpose.
Concern around data privacy and government surveillance has increased in recent years. The revelations of Edward Snowden, Christopher Wylie and other whistleblowers have all come to light since the last census and knowledge that the data we provide companies is being used to profile and sell us is hardly secret. In July 2019, the Information Commissioner’s Office conducted a survey that revealed that the public has a 'low level of confidence in companies and organisations storing and using personal information' mostly thanks to concerns about data theft, data misuse, and that data being sold. The Open Data Institute and YouGov in October 2019 discovered that less than a third of citizens trust central government or local authorities with their data. More 25 to 34 year olds trust credit card companies than they do our elected leaders.
Data from the census is consumed in two key ways. The first is instant and is available to statisticians as soon as you begin submitting information; the second features a time-delay of 100 years.
Anonymised, aggregated statistics such as population and demographic. Your individual data point is featured here but you are not individually identifiable.Personally indentifiable information. Information specific to you available for public consumption after 100 years, including your address, religion, sexuality and more.
The Census 2021 website says that 'everyone working on the census signs the Census Confidentiality Undertaking' and that '[i]t’s a crime for them to unlawfully share personal census information' but the law didn't prevent the release of 3.2 billion records from data breaches in the first two months of 2021, so why it would be a deterrent here I do not know.
All this said, digital censuses are more undoubtedly more robust and arguably immutable than paper ones: 1931 census returns were completely destroyed in a fire in Middlesex where the census was being stored which is a terrible shame. Could we one day see a blockchain census?
The census asks several questions but they fall into three categories:
What and where you are: Your address, your biological birth sex, your ageWho you identify as: Your gender, your sexuality, your religious beliefs How you live: Homeowner or renter, how many cars you own
A census is remarkably useful, representing in solid statistics changing behaviours and outlooks but I'd also argue it's not the business of anyone what sexuality you are, what God you might want to believe in, nor what the relationship you have with the people in your household is. The rest – where you live, how old you are, and whether you own a car or rent a home – is already available from HMRC, the DVLA, and more.
Photographer Noah Kalina reflected on this idea stating that a photograph is worth more many years after it's taken and I think that sentiment is applicable here too. A census, or something like the Mass Observation diary project, is potentially our best way of measuring the past but we have many better ways of measuring the present. As a matter of fact, censuses are so useless at measuring 'right now' that people are already calling for a second 'emergency census' in 2026 given the impact coronavirus and the UK's exit from the European Union has had on our lifestyles.