What I’m Reading: Fast Company Tech Editor Harry McCracken

Shona Sanzgiri / August 5, 2015

Fast Company has a particular beat: the business of big ideas. Whatever the space—tech, design or commerce—Fast Co.’s team of writers and editors know how to “best chronicle how changing companies create and compete.”

One of the people responsible for investigating innovative tech companies at Fast Co. is editor Harry McCracken, who also happens to be a prolific Flipboard-er—to such an extent that McCracken says Flipboard helps him do his job.

We wanted to know how. So we asked him: what are you reading?

I particularly enjoy reading The New Yorker. I’ve been a fan since I was in junior high school, and find that its eclectic nature—long stories, short stories, an array of subject matter, and cartoons—lends itself well to presentation in Flipboard.

Technology is the one subject which I pursue as a profession. But I’m at least as interested in animation and comics—especially great old stuff from the 1930s and 1940s—and read about it often in Flipboard. I also follow news about the media industry, anything relating to collectible wristwatches, and a lot of items which don’t fit into any particularly obvious bucket.

I find that drilling down into very specific topics—say, Nikon instead of Digital Photography or Technology—is a good way to find material from small, specialist sources which I might otherwise never stumble upon.

I take the subway to work. It takes about 20 minutes, and the wireless connectivity is surprisingly decent. So I read up on tech news using Flipboard on my phone, especially items which don’t show up in tech-focused news aggregators such as Techmeme and aren’t being tweeted by people I follow. As I find good reads, I share them in my Technologizer magazine, but I’m also prepping myself for my workday.

In the evening and on weekends, I’m more likely to use Flipboard on my iPad. And though I’m still trawling for technology stories, I’m less in work mode and therefore more likely to delve into long stories which are a bit off the beaten track.

In the early days of Flipboard, I painstakingly curated my feed, tracking down my favorite sources and making sure they were all in the app. As Flipboard has ramped up its efforts to automatically find content I didn’t know I wanted to read, I spend less time scanning the sites I’m already familiar with and more time discovering new ones through algorithmic serendipity.

I’m a fan of my friend Laura Locke’s TechMuse magazine. In fact, talking to Laura about how much she was having curating it is what inspired me to dedicate more attention to my own Technologizer magazine.

I’m better informed about technology than I would be if Flipboard didn’t exist. And speaking selfishly, it’s a good way to get my own work in front of people who might enjoy it.

Every day, I read and value a bunch of articles—in Flipboard and elsewhere—that I’d like to recommend to other people. Flipboard is the most painless way I know to do that. It’s even a little quicker than tweeting out a link, and the fact that my picks show up in my magazine means that they have a longer shelf life than tweets, which either get noticed immediately or not at all.

To make my magazines stand out, I pretty much do the same thing as when I’m writing an article, blogging, tweeting or otherwise communicating with an audience. If something is interesting to me, I figure that others will care, too, and share it. I also think it makes sense to have a core topic but be willing to stray a bit, which is why my Technologizer magazine is mostly, but not entirely, about personal technology.

More recently, I’ve started some other magazines which are a bit more focused and which I therefore don’t update as often. Q-36 is about cartoons and comics. Wroooong! is for tech predictions and punditry which either haven’t stood the test of time or seem unlikely to fare well. And Harry-Go-Round is just a place I’m tucking articles I’ve written over the years, in part so I can find them myself.

~ShonaS is curating “Proof of Experience”