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Rory Cellan-Jones: How Technology Is Changing Our Lives

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h1The extraordinary processing power now being delivered to smartphones - who knows how that will change our lives in the next few years.

Rory Cellan-Jones, BBC Technology Correspondent

Rory Cellan-Jones is not your typical technology reporter. He came late to technology by his own admission, does not live in Silicon Valley and doesn't have his own eponymous blog (or startup) on the side. That said, he is one of the most respected and influential technology reporters in the world. A journalist and TV reporter for the BBC since 1981, he became the BBC's technology correspondent in 2007.

Based in London, Rory is a self-confessed non-geek, that brings the big stories of the day to the BBC’s non-geek audience. That means radio, TV, and insightful blog posts that have the power to not only educate, but also bring down companies. And of course, he's one of the influencers in the SAY 100 technology channel,

We asked Rory what he thinks are some of the most important tech stories unfolding right now, why Pinterest really is the new hotness, and what it's like to interview Mark Zuckerberg – twice.

You've been reporting on technology for 15+ years. What do you think are the most important stories taking shape right now in the tech landscape? It's a period of rapid change in the way we use technology and its impact on our world. Twenty years after the Web arrived in our lives, it's going mobile, getting ever more social and reaching the next billion people around the world.

Then there's the whole concept of the Internet of things - with everything from cars to household appliances to our clothes getting connected to the net.

With Facebook, Zynga, Twitter, Groupon and other insane startup valuations – do you think we're in another bubble? And if so, how is it different than the bubble of the late 90s? We are in something of a social bubble but it's very different from the last time - there are far fewer companies coming to the market, and they are generally more mature. Back then companies were being valued purely on "eyeballs" - the number of people visiting their sites - and many had minimal revenues. let alone profits. This time, Facebook, Groupon and Zynga are at least earning substantial amounts of money - even if their growth prospects may not be as good as the market seems to think.

What technologies are you most excited about right now and why? I like augmented reality - although I'm still waiting for a really compelling use case. I'm also excited about the prospects for connected TV which seems to be about to happen after years of false starts. But most of the exciting developments are all about the extraordinary processing power now being delivered to smartphones - who knows how that will change our lives in the next few years.

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Pinterest – is it the new hotness or will it be another Quora? It's the first new social network since Twitter that I think might be a winner. It's visual, it's simple, it's fun - but it needs to sort out some of those tricky copyright issues.

What apps are on your smartphone or tablet– and which ones do you really use? Far too many - I feel compelled to try anything people tell me about. But mostly I use iPlayer, Twitter, Flipboard, TuneIn Radio, and various video and audio editing apps.

What other products or technologies are you excited about right now? Health and fitness apps and products. I'm trying something called the Nike Fuelband - which measures your physical activity during the day - expensive but fun. I'm also using iMapMyRUN and something really daft, Zombies Run, a mobile game which encourages you to run faster or get caught by the zombies.

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You've interviewed Mark Zuckerberg – what was that like? Any behind the scenes observations? I've interviewed him twice - once in person and once over Skype. In London in 2008 he seemed the most stereotypical shy young geek you could imagine, better at looking at his shoes than engaging with the interviewer. But I sense that he's grown up a lot over the last four years - he seems much more relaxed, much smarter about engaging with the media than he did then.

As a reporter using a lot of the newest mobile tools you've had to lifestream a lot of experiences on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, etc. Is it weird for you as a reporter to become part of the story? How have you managed it (or not)? While I try to use all of these tools and bring a certain amount of personal stuff into my social media use - pictures of my dog etc - I do set myself certain boundaries. So for instance I never say anything on social media that I would be embarrassed to repeat on air. And I don't believe that I've become "part of the story."

Is covering tech from outside Silicon Valley an advantage or disadvantage? How so? The advantage is that there is a world of technology outside Silicon Valley - and it's vital for a BBC reporter to have a perspective on what is happening in the UK in particular. It's certainly important to visit Silicon Valley from time to time and make connections there, but I think being based there would give you a blinkered view of the world.

You're a BBC lifer – how do you think that has shaped your view of how to cover technology? I'm certainly imbued with a BBC ethos, which is all about trying to give a balanced impartial view of the world. These days, technology is riven with feuds - Apple fans v Android fans, Xbox fans v PS3 fans. So it's difficult to please everybody, but we do our best to stay neutral. It's certainly something that preoccupies my editors - so many stories involve new products, and they will always worry that we could simply be plugging a company. My answer to that is it depends on whether the product is really significant - would we have refused to cover the arrival of the Model T Ford to avoid plugging a car company?

Follow Rory on Twitter @BBCRoryCJ

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