Uses This

A collection of nerdy interviews asking people from all walks of life what they use to get the job done.

A picture of Alicia Kennedy

Alicia Kennedy

Food and drink writer

Posted in food, writer

Who are you, and what do you do?

I'm Alicia Kennedy, a food and drink writer from Long Island, formerly based in Brooklyn and now living in San Juan, Puerto Rico. I write and report for various publications as a freelancer, and also write a weekly newsletter of cultural criticism that features audio and text interviews with people in food - from chefs to writers and beyond. This is an extension of a podcast I used to host called "Meatless: A Podcast About Eating." I also do a weekly Instagram Live vegan baking show, of sorts. It's just me talking about baking and talking shit while I make something. A lot of my work is very heavy and focused on food justice; this helps me remind myself and hopefully others that I'm not always on an angry tirade.

What hardware do you use?

I have a rose gold, 13-inch MacBook Air that had to have its logic board replaced about six months into its life, so I'm not thrilled about that. For photos, I have a mirrorless Sony a6000, which I absolutely love. I've had a lot of cameras in my life, and this one is the most intuitive and easiest to carry around while also being of just the kind of quality I really want. I bought it when I thought I'd be spending 2020 hopping around the Caribbean doing research into rum and sugar production; now, I just take pictures of my food and local fauna. My phone is an iPhone 11 Pro, which I use for photos sometimes and recording interviews always - which is probably going to bite me in the ass one day, but it does a good job and keeps everything in one place, as well as easily accessible from my laptop.

For recording and Instagram Live, I use a Shure Motiv MV88+ microphone, which I hope to also bring out into the field once that's possible.

I keep the technology simple, more or less, because I am a writer first and foremost and don't want to get bogged down figuring out too many tools. When it comes to the actual work of writing, I use Sharpie felt-tip pens. I've tried basically every felt-tip pen on the market and these are my favorites, though I also love Paper Mate. I used to be a gel ink person, but felt provides better flow for how I write, which is without lifting the pen from the paper much because I do a print-script hybrid that was hated by nuns when I was in school.

For notebooks, I use ruled, paperback cahiers - right now, Baron Fig. I generally stock up on pens and notebooks when I'm in New York at Goods for the Study, which is my favorite place. I have been notebook and pen obsessed from birth; the change as an adult is that I actually fill them and attempt some sort of organizational system. I still have all my journals going back to middle school. Now, the journaling is mixed in with the to-do lists and interview notes and fragments of ideas.

When I leave the house, I have a Poketo vegan leather laptop holder and pen case. I'm used to traveling a lot, so being in quarantine has really changed my relationship to all my stuff and the organization of it - in that, it's no longer very organized. I just realized I think of things in terms of where I usually put them in my bag.

And what software?

Substack hosts my newsletter and "podcast," I suppose you can call my interview series. I use Zencastr to record, Audacity to edit, Otter to do the initial transcription, and Google Docs to proofread. For interviews for reporting, I also use Otter to record and transcribe. I never edit photos beyond sizing and a little bit of color adjustment on Instagram. As you can tell, most of what I use is browser-based to keep everything simple.

What would be your dream setup?

A big wooden desk in my own book-lined office, where I don't have to edit my own audio.

Uses This is supported by ZSA, makers of the Moonlander, ErgoDox EZ and Planck EZ keyboards. They also publish an awesome newsletter.