The Verge Reviews the Nike+ FuelBand

Bryan Bishop reports for The Verge:

What’s fascinating about the FuelBand, however, is how deceptively fun it makes exercise. By decoupling physicality from any currently accepted empirical standard, the only baseline becomes your own performance, or that of your family and friends. The system also takes some phrases that are quite tainted for many people — words like calorie, or carb — and removes them from the picture entirely (striking the calories menu from the FuelBand entirely is just a checkbox away).

What you’re left with is a product that’s probably not that interesting for hard-core athletes or the exercise-obsessed, no matter how many times LeBron James appears in the commercial. Instead, the FuelBand is a device designed to simply make the idea of exercise and physical activity fun and rewarding.

The FuelBand sounds intriguing but I am disappointed at the lack of sleep tracking. Measuring exercise with the Jawbone UP provided a vague and potentially distorted metric for your activity, but the sleep tracking was phenomenal. Considering the ostensible death of the UP, I was hoping Nike might incorporate some of its better features, like sleep tracking, into the UP but, sadly, they have eschewed such functionality.

That said, the gamification and sociability of your activity appears to provide novel incentive for increased exercise. Integration into Path 2.1 looks phenomenal, albeit potentially hamstrung by the relatively small size of the budding social network.

Ultimately, if you are looking for something to measure your general fitness and activity in a pseudo-attractive package, it seems the Nike+ FuelBand may be the product for you. Having said that, if you're looking for something that performs beyond the bounds of your active moments, the FuelBand may not fit the bill. Failing with stationary cycling, weight lifting, sleep, and swimming, the FuelBand use-case is virtually limited to running, walking, and physical sports.

Although I found the UP compelling and the FuelBand promising, I'm not quite sure this product is for me.

Access to Contact Data Requiring Explicit User Permission in Forthcoming iOS Update

John Paczkowski for AllThingsD:

“Apps that collect or transmit a user’s contact data without their prior permission are in violation of our guidelines,” Apple spokesman Tom Neumayr told AllThingsD. “We’re working to make this even better for our customers, and as we have done with location services, any app wishing to access contact data will require explicit user approval in a future software release.”

Outside of the rampant media hyperbole, I actually think this matter has been handled fairly well by all parties involved.

"Content Everywhere, But Not A Drop To Drink"

Yesterday evening, renowned online journalist turned venture capitalist, M.G. Siegler, chimed in on the topic of quality in online media. M.G. argues that, driven by page views and advertising revenue, most online media outlets have tainted their accuracy, legitimacy, and credibility by rushing content, and shamelessly grappling for highly sought-after Techmeme headlines.

Although such trends are certainly apparent, I tend not to share the fatalistic sentiment of Mr. Siegler's view toward technology journalism. In my view, the mere fact that his opinion has been shared via his own personal Tumblr, and that my view here is being written unabashed and unedited, is testament to the growing undercurrent of independent writing in the journalistic world.

Self-publishing, as many have argued, is becoming increasingly accessible to the average Internet user. While that might result in a cacophony of opinionated noise, the growth in subjective blogging has also unquestionably given rise to a number of thoroughly brilliant voices. Unhindered by page views and corporate allegiances, independent writers all over the world are sharing their raw opinions on the latest technological occurrences, and they are cultivating enviably large audiences.

From my perspective, this phenomenon has engendered two online journalistic cultures: the objective media and the independent. Giants like TechCrunch and The Verge pride themselves upon objective media reporting - often relying solely upon quick interpretations of press releases to chase headlines and clicks. Meanwhile, writers like John Gruber have the latitude to approach current events days after something has happened.

Perhaps there is not yet mainstream traction for such writing but, in my opinion, its mere existence and growing relevance provides wonderful testament for the viability and importance of untainted writing. Although larger sites will continue to successfully chase page views and sometimes inaccurately report news, independent bastions of informed reason and logic are unquestionably on the rise.

As such, I cannot help but foresee the potential for the convergence of the aforementioned cultures. How long is it before independent writers band together to create a large-scale site built upon the foundational values that made their independent voices so affable? Although such a formula may not elicit earth-shattering success, such a notion is not outside the bounds of realistic possibility.

M.G. shares his opinion not from TechCrunch or PandoDaily, but from his own personal Tumblr. His words were not tempered by an editor, he presumably just articulated his thoughts and published. And yet, here his words are as a headlining article on Techmeme. That is, if nothing else, a strong endorsement of the growing undercurrent of independent writing, and the increasing relevance of the individual's opinion. Just as an uninspired Engadget post might reach the top of Techmeme, so too can a well-reasoned opinion.

Large-scale news websites, and the writers therein, are not necessarily guilty of anything. Those individuals are mere victims of their own environment. The increasing control of advertising and page views is of their own creation, not of some malevolent cabal of advertising executives. The Internet is what you make of it, and those sites are reaping the benefits (and negatives) of their own actions.

Although, on some level, that is cause for negativity, the level of commentary evident in independent news outlets gives me cause for optimism. For every rushed news post, I can generally find a measured equivalent a few hours later. Rather than relying on my "Technology" RSS folder, I can arrive in my "Independent Writers" folder later in the day and find splendid coverage of precisely the same topics. Although some of those writers may not be the absolute best sources of opinion on these topics, their contributions are still of the utmost importance. When I need soulless news, I know where to look, and I'm smart enough to spot a logical flaw if I see one. The same goes for an illogical opinion from a self-published writer. Ultimately, regardless of the source, I, as well as most online readers, have the intellectual capacity to discern between good and accurate, and just plain wrong.

Furthermore, thanks to the rise of social media, the average writer is subject to a far greater level of scrutiny than in the past. Accountability in reporting protrudes into the writer's online identity, with inaccuracies no longer rectified by a simple retraction or article revision. The increase of a journalist's followers and the associative dispersion of an article is in direct correlation with the amount of critical feedback that person will receive. You post something woefully inaccurate, you'll often be called on it within a matter of seconds.

I don't think there's any incentive for any writers to, as M.G. writes, "fall away" from the industry. In fact, I'd argue there's incentive for more to come to the table. As online media grows and self-publishing becomes even more accessible, it's logical to expect the arrival of more and more quality writers. Moreover, as larger sites have writers come and go, how long is it before some of the best independent writers join and infuse their subjective perspective into the running of such a site? What happens when opinionated journalism gains further mainstream visibility and well-reasoned and researched responses become more valuable for advertisers? Neither situation seems a stretch.

There is, of course, plenty of "nonsense" in technology journalism, but there is also a growing quantity of uniquely valuable insight. M.G. isn't necessarily wrong, but I contend that there is cause for optimism. When focusing on larger sites and the propensity towards rushed work, it's easy to feel disheartened. But, for me, looking at the independent community and all of the phenomenal writers out there, I feel more hopeful for the future of technology journalism than ever before.

Path Deletes Uploaded User Data, Takes Accountability For Mistake

Following this morning's call from Mike Arrington for Path to delete its controversially collected user data, Path has just done just that. Maintaining the general theme of accountability, Dave Morin, Path CEO, has written an apologetic post on the social network's official blog. Morin writes:

We made a mistake. Over the last couple of days users brought to light an issue concerning how we handle your personal information on Path, specifically the transmission and storage of your phone contacts.

[...] We believe you should have control when it comes to sharing your personal information. We also believe that actions speak louder than words. So, as a clear signal of our commitment to your privacy, we’ve deleted the entire collection of user uploaded contact information from our servers. Your trust matters to us and we want you to feel completely in control of your information on Path.

Admirable, to say the least.