Ann Friedman

Ann Friedman

Journalist (New York magazine, Tomorrow)

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Who are you, and what do you do?

I am a journalist. I used to be a magazine editor, and now I write about women and politics and culture for New York magazine and about media for the Columbia Journalism Review - and lots of other things for lots of other magazines and websites. I draw pie charts for The Hairpin and speak at conferences and tell stories using GIFs. Last year, I co-founded a magazine called Tomorrow.

What hardware do you use?

I am deeply dependent on my two-year-old MacBook Pro. Also my iPhone. Every morning, before I even put on my glasses, I check email and Twitter on my phone. Given that I have to hold it about an inch from my nose, this is probably wrecking my already abysmal eyesight. Anyway, to round out the Mac stack, I also have an iPad that, letsbereal, I mostly use to read Instapaper and the occasional e-book. To further the young-urban-creative stereotype, I use two Moleskines: one (side-bound) as more of a personal journal, holding everything from little drawings to lists to long-winded prose, and one (top-bound) for my pie charts. Though really, I make pie charts on just about anything. Backs of envelopes, cocktail napkins, receipts. I'm not particular about the pens I use. I do not draw the circles with a compass, I trace a round cardboard coaster. (Classy!)

The James Bond-iest piece of hardware I own is my Echo Smartpen, which prevents me from having to juggle a notebook, recording device, and a pen when I'm doing interviews. It syncs the audio with my handwritten notes, so rather than transcribe a full three hours of interviews, I can just tap the section of notes that's relevant and hear the playback from there. It is also an excellent conversation piece. When I used to work in an office I'd wear these bright red UrbanEars headphones to signal to coworkers, Hey, I'm actually working. Do not drop by and ask if I've seen that video of a baby giraffe trying to walk. Now that I am a freelancer, I apply this tactic to working in coffee shops. Sometimes I don't even listen to music, I just wear the headphones so I feel focused.

Do dead-tree magazines and books count as hardware? I read those, too. Lots of them.

And what software?

Gmail is my everything, my life archive. I have a complex priority inbox + starring system to make sure I reply to everything without going crazy. Also crucial: Chrome. And Google Calendar. And Google Docs, which I use to pass drafts back and forth with the editors of my two weekly columns (at New York magazine and the Columbia Journalism Review). I love both Twitter and Tumblr, which are essential to how I find news and ideas, keep in touch with both friends and colleagues, and promote my work. Evernote, synced across my devices, is where I keep a sprawling list of column ideas and random thoughts to follow up on. It also helps me clip and organize links and documents when I'm doing a big reporting project.

I send my weekly newsletter with the help of TinyLetter. I use Expensify to keep track of receipts when I'm on a reporting assignment, Pinboard to bookmark and tag all of the great GIFs I find, and Skype for the occasional interview. Throughout the day, every time I run across something that's longer than 500 words that I don't need to read immediately, I'll bookmark it on Instapaper. (I mess around with Flipboard and Pocket and the Longform app, too, but my archive is in Instapaper, and that's just what I've stuck with.) Then I'll read the internet - my curated version of it - later that night. I use Spotify to send music to friends and make themed playlists ("editing vibes," "Up To No Good," "stonezone"). When I am feeling rich, I let myself log in to Svpply. I love Instagram and Snapchat. I am trying to love Vine but I am very bad at it. Does the emoji keyboard count as software?

Now's the part where I scream and cry and gnash my teeth about the demise of Google Reader. (RIP!!!!) When it had the sharing and commenting functionality, it was an incredibly important social network for me. And even after they removed those features and failed to push me to use Google Plus, I continued to use Reader as a way of selectively searching only certain sites that are relevant to me. As an example, when I decided to write a column on Martha Stewart, I first searched the sites and blogs that I follow in Reader to see whether any of them had written about her lately. Google News does not allow me to do this. Nor does Twitter or Tumblr. I'm still trying to figure out where I'll migrate all of my RSS feeds - maybe The Old Reader? Feedly? I'm taking suggestions.

What would be your dream setup?

Right now I use my mantle as a standing desk. So, maybe a real standing desk with an external monitor? And the old, social Google Reader. I really, really want that back.