Embracing digital in the age of COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic has shattered many illusions and exposed the weaknesses of human society. It has also destroyed all our excuses for not embracing digital.
Our world has changed. And in the weeks since governments implemented physical distancing and lockdowns, millions have learned to adapt to a new digital lifestyle.
The digital haves and have nots
Some of us have been working from home for years. Well, from anywhere, actually, in my case. So we may not realize just how disruptive this has been for many people. I’ve been advocating and trying to live a digital lifestyle since the late 90s. Nicholas Negroponte’s “Being Digital“, which was published in 1995, made a big impact on me when I read it. And yet even I’m amazed by how quickly society ended up embracing digital when it was forced to do so.
Now, of course I realize that those of us who have access to digital platforms are privileged. Most people in the world are not as fortunate. Which is why we talk about the digital divide, which separates the digital haves and have nots.
As I said in my first column piece, that’s why I launched Digital Life Asia. I believe that technology is a force for good, and that we should make the benefits of technology accessible to everyone. The digital haves must help the digital have nots. We cannot afford to leave anyone behind.
For those of you who do have access, but are just starting to transition to a digital lifestyle, let me share five of my favorite apps. I won’t focus anymore on business tools, since I’m sure you’re already familiar with those by now from working from home. You can also check out some tech startups who can help you cope with the quarantine. As well as some simple ways you can do good online.
Now, more than ever, we should switch to cashless payments if we can to avoid the risk of being infected.
My favorite e-wallet is Coins.ph. I started using it in 2017 because I wanted to buy Bitcoin. With an e-wallet, you don’t need to leave the house to transfer funds, pay bills, buy load, or purchase game credits.
The great thing about Coins.ph is that apart from Bitcoin, it’s also an Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash, and Ripple wallet. Yup, cryptocurrency FTW!
It sounds bad, but I don’t really miss going to the bookstore. I’m a bookworm, but for years now I’ve mainly been reading ebooks, including Kindle Books.
Yes, I do like hanging out in bookstores because it still feels good to be surrounded by physical books. And I enjoy getting bargains, especially at secondhand bookstores like Booksale and Biblio. But for the most part, I buy ebooks.
I don’t have a Kindle E-reader, because I just use the Kindle app on my iPhone and iPad. I’ve also tried out Kindle Unlimited, but I prefer Scribd, which I’ll talk about after this.
I’ve been a fan of Scribd for years. It’s the Netflix for books, which gives you access to tons of ebooks, audiobooks, magazines, and even comic books for a monthly subscription.
I find their selection to be much better than that of Kindle Unlimited. Plus you get to enjoy free perks with your monthly subscription. Like the MUBI movie streaming service, which I will talk about later.
Scribd offers a 30-day free trial, which already comes with the perks.
I’ve been a comic book fan since I was a kid, and when comiXology came along, I quickly embraced digital comics.
ComiXology doesn’t just offer digital comics from the usual suspects like Marvel, DC, and Image, but also the works of a lot of publishers from different parts of the world.
In 2014, Amazon bought comiXology. The only annoying thing about that is that I could no longer buy comic books directly from the iOS app (unlike with the Android app; yeah, it’s an Apple thing). Instead, I have to go to the comiXology site. But that’s just a minor issue.
Like watching movies, but tired of the usual fare on Netflix and other streaming services? Check out MUBI.
I love MUBI because it’s about quality rather than quantity. You only have a curated selection of 30 films to choose from, and 30 days to watch them. Each day, a new movie is introduced, and a movie from the current selection exits.
Enjoy great handpicked cult, classic, and independent films. MUBI offers a free seven-day trial. And, as I’ve mentioned, if you’re a Scribd subscriber, MUBI is one of your free perks.
Until next week, here’s to embracing digital!