Linkage+

Apr 02

To the end.

I’m a writer, so I automatically have to process everything via writing. So, given the news, here goes.

I spent three months with Thunderdome. When I made the decision to go there and leave KPCC, I was so excited. It was a room full of some of my favorite people, and others that I wanted to work for for a long time.

And God, those people were amazing. Everyone believed I was competent. Everyone had faith in me. We all pushed each other to try new things, look at a story a different way, write about that idea. We laughed, and I never felt alone even though I was across the country.

I had no fear, no anxiety, nothing but excitement about work and I felt empowered.

We were working on some cool shit. I was working on some cool shit.

I’m, um, crying as I write this, because I’ve been laid off before, but I’ve never been laid off when I was in the middle of working on something I think I would be proud of for the rest of my career.

Do I regret taking the job now that I know it wasn’t for long? Not one bit.

So thanks to everyone there. I could list names but I would end up listing everyone. I would work with every one of you at Thunderdome (and at LANG, too for that matter) in a heartbeat. You are all welcome at my house in LA. We will get beers and Snapchat everyone else.

So hire these people. Hire me, for that matter. We are smart, young, and we want to make journalism better.

That’s it, for now. Thanks for reading my weepiness.

Mar 24

“The CMSs of today don’t work well at all on mobile. Yet writers should be able to author content from a phone with the same simplicity with which they compose a tweet … maybe even from the same interface.” — Rethinking the content management system for mobile | VentureBeat | Mobile | by Jason Baptiste, Onswipe

Mar 11

“To help users quickly find what they need, anchor text should stand out from the body content and accurately describe the page that it refers to.” — A good overview of how to link appropriately so people will click on the links in your article.
Writing Hyperlinks: Salient, Descriptive, Start with Keyword

Feb 26

“The fact is that more women in the magazine means fewer men in the magazine, and that seems to be a tough thing for the men who run these magazines to accept and execute.” — VIDA count 2013: Magazine editors respond.

Feb 25

“The opportunity for leadership in the journalism business, just happens to be same leadership opportunity as in all businesses. Leaders just need to start leading.” — The Future of the News Business: A Monumental Twitter Stream All in One Place | Marc Andreessen

Feb 24

“I kept waiting for the lights to turn off, to signal the end of the day. But the lights did not shut off. I began to count the small holes carved in the walls. Tiny grooves made by inmates who’d chipped away at the cell as the cell chipped away at them.” — My Night in Solitary - NYTimes.com

Feb 20

“Unfortunately, the answer to the activist’s question of “why” is ignored in a clickbait competition where a picture is worth zero words. The only “wh-“ word that matters is “whoa”: Look at the fire, the water, the bullets, the blood. Look, but do not listen. Look inward, at the movie you watched that looked like Ukraine, at the painting you saw that looked like Ukraine. Look at Ukraine without seeing Ukraine.” — The Day We Pretended to Care About Ukraine - Sarah Kendzior - POLITICO Magazine

Feb 19

“There’s evidence from the humanities, though, that genius doesn’t decline with age at all. Over 40% of both Robert Frost’s and William Carlos Williams’ best poems were written after the poets turned 50. Paul Cézanne’s highest-priced paintings were made the year he died.” — Why major creative breakthroughs happen in your late thirties - Quartz

“To them Facebook is everyone they ever knew, and Twitter is something they’ve locked down to just a handful of people they care about–which is often the opposite of how adults use them.” — Teenagers don’t use social media to share links, says Microsoft researcher | Poynter.

Feb 14

Rethinking mobile at #ONACamp

Last weekend, I helped out with an ONA dCamp of mobile. It’s been brewing for awhile, before I even got into mobile, but after a long conversation about products, mobile and product teams with folks like Damon Kiesow and Eric Ulken at ONA13, Damon, with the help of the amazing Miranda Mulligan, made a conversation into a reality.

[Sidebar: Part of my interest in this is the struggle for a traditionally “non-tech” person like myself to budge into product teams. I am not a strong coder, but I can work with people who code. Is that enough? Depends on who you talk to.]

You can read this to see a little bit of what we did, but here are my takeaways.

It knows

I wrote this on one of our sticky notes. We can talk about the Internet of things, or wearable technology. But what all those things come down to, is that they know.

Some of the best apps, the ones I use every day, they know. It’s creepy, but what constitutes privacy is changing. Mynd, my calendar app, knows who I am meeting with next and shows me their LinkedIn profile. My alarm clock app, with a little input, has told me I sleep better when I drink tea and work out.

But news apps, news sites, they have never known. Not well, really. They might know what your friends have posted on Facebook from that site, but that’s hardly interesting.

What if you gave it access to your calendar and Facebook, and it told you Rob likes the Atlanta Braves and feeds you a few stories so you can make a tense meeting more relaxed? What if it told you the hotel you’re about to check into had break-ins last month that are still unsolved?

We can’t beat Facebook, but we can find spaces in the day

At least a couple teams tried to work on this. In our group the conversation went back and forth as to whether we — as news companies — really can compete with the timesucks of Facebook and Twitter, and the information gatherers like Flipboard.

But there are other moments in the day we can find. We can fill in the time where we’re waiting in line. The time when our readers wake up. The time when our readers are doing research. The time when they are looking up what is happening down the street. Is there a tree down?

We spend a lot of time focusing on the time of day we’re on mobile (early and evening) but the questions is what is our audience doing then? It’s not about time, it’s about activity. My hiking app has become indispensable when I’m out in the woods. Outside of the world of mobile, public radio is obsessed with drive time. Those moments, when people are trapped in the car and need something, anything to take their mind off it — driveway moments.

We need better building blocks

This is the least sexy thing. But it’s the most important. We can’t build anything for mobile unless we can actually program, write for, and control mobile. Most mobile websites are slight re-hashes of homepages. But when you’re on your phone, you’re most likely looking for something specific, or something that fills a need (interesting, funny, etc).

But to build something where the mobile display feel radically different, customized, we need to start somewhere better.

The building blocks can’t be

It’s got to be more like:

Our CMSs have to be ready for different displays. The preview needs to show not just desktop, but mobile. How can we have outstanding mobile products if our web producers and our mobile producers are just reproducing the same story, with the same basic elements? What’s the point of having two people if our systems won’t even let us produce different things?

If we crunch everything down to building blocks, then it’s easier to build on breaking news (goodbye, timestamps!!) and we can scale up easily to large scale projects without freaking out about mobile in the end.

Other nuggets

In tweet form, other thoughts that crossed my mind over the weekend

We need to get more women interested in mobile, in the tech side. Female product managers in news? A rare sight.

Push alerts aren’t the answer, they’re the beginning. The more relevant they are (@Circa) they more people use them.

Constant reminder: We are not typical news consumers. We have to stop building for ourselves.

The struggle to get newsroom to think mobile is the same struggle as social. We’re pushing the object of change, not the idea of it.

Big data needs to be broken down into small, actionable data on my phone.