HOME
          
LATEST STORY
The Upshot uses geolocation to push readers deeper into data
ABOUT                    SUBSCRIBE
March 20, 2012, 7:50 a.m.
LINK: cloudfour.com  ➚   |   Posted by: Joshua Benton   |   March 20, 2012

Anyone who (like me!) got a new iPad over the weekend can tell you two things about the new Retina screen:

1. It looks amazing.

2. It looks so amazing, in fact, that its crispness paradoxically makes anything non-crisp look bad.

Because the new screen contains four times the number of pixels in the same space, web graphics that look fine on your laptop can look a little fuzzy. You see this most within apps, where developers will have to upgrade their graphics to new Retina-ready versions. But what to do on the web?

One solution — the one Cloud Four’s Jason Grigsby details here, and the one Apple itself is using on its webpages — is to build in some logic that checks if the page is being viewed on a new iPad. If so, a higher-res image is sent. The problem is it’s sent alongside the smaller image, which really ramps up the page weight — in the case of Apple’s home page, it goes from 500K to 2.1MB when viewed on a new iPad.

In other words, Apple hasn’t yet found a bandwidth-friendly solution to the responsive images question — one that a lot of news sites will be increasingly interested in as more of their audience shifts to mobile or Retinaesque screens.

Of note: Top Apple blogger John Gruber recently increased the size of his header graphic to 3x actual display size (resized in html). But Gruber only serves one graphic on his minimalist page; that strategy is less likely to work well on, say, a news site’s homepage.

Show tags Show comments / Leave a comment
LINK: knightfoundation.org  ➚   |   Posted by: Justin Ellis   |   April 30, 2015

The Knight Foundation is awarding more than $700,000 to a new round of technology projects, with a focus on storytelling, data, and community building. Twenty projects will each receive $35,000 as part of the Knight Prototype Fund, which is aimed at offering early seed investments in ideas focused on information needs.

The projects in this round come from the world of technology, media, and civic engagement and include media companies like Chicago Public Media and The Lens, as well as content recommendation service Contextly and a former Knight-Mozilla OpenNews fellow.

Like many Knight-backed projects, the Prototype Fund winners are designed to address community-based problems focused on increasing access to information, building tools for reporters, and improving participation in elections. (Disclosure: The Knight Foundation is a funder of Nieman Lab, though not through the Prototype Fund.)

Some of the projects include an app that uses games to helps voters identify what candidate they agree with, a tool for curating science stories based on credibility metrics, and a platform to help news organizations verify photos from users. Along with the funding, each project will go through a six-month program from the LUMA Institute that will take teams through human-centered design and prepare them for a demo day later this year.

Knight is currently accepting applications for the next round of Prototype Fund grants, with a deadline of May 15. The full list of winners is below.

Ballot by WeVote (Project Lead: Amy Chiou) (Charlotte, N.C.): Making voting easy by matching voters with candidates who share their political views through a free web and mobile app that provides simple quizzes and surveys and uses a matching algorithm to sort candidates by compatibility.

Community Resource Aggregator by Union Capital Boston (Project lead: Laura Ballek) (Boston): Developing a mobile-based loyalty program for low-income families that provides social and financial rewards in exchange for community involvement in schools, health centers and civic programs.

Culture Conversations by Dance Heritage Coalition (Project lead: Imogen Smith) (San Francisco): Helping the San Francisco art community preserve digital arts criticism related to dance through a tool that will make these stories fully searchable using descriptive metadata and linking it to streaming dance videos.

Futurism.co 2.0, The Evolving Knowledge System by Futurism (Project lead: Alexander Klokus) (Brooklyn, N.Y.): Helping readers easily access a collection of top science and technology stories curated through a tool that aggregates and ranks based on source credibility, keywords and social media metrics.

KLRN Virtual Classroom by Alamo Public Telecommunications Council (Project lead: Katrina Kehoe) (San Antonio, Texas): Using PBS LearningMedia and the OVEE video platform to support students who are homeschooled through a virtual classroom experience that allows them to interact with their peers online and take advantage of PBS educational resources.

Metadata Beyond the Open Graph by Contextly (Project lead: Ryan Singel) (San Francisco): Developing a new kind of writing interface that helps journalists and others create stories that include additional context and descriptive metadata, so they can be found and used more easily.

A Metadata Graphing Interface by Chicago Public Media (Project leads: Matthew Green and Brendan Metzger) (Chicago): Enabling content creators to provide audiences with smarter, better search results, story recommendations and the ability to explore content through an easy-to-use publishing platform.

mRelief (Project lead: Rose Afriyie) (Chicago): Helping people in financial need access public assistance resources through a platform that enables them to locate and apply for benefits.

Neighborhood Drawing Tool by The Metropolitan Area Planning Council (Project lead: Matt Cloyd) (Boston): Helping people find information on a wide range of topics specific to their location through a tool that allows users to define the boundaries of their neighborhood or community of interest and crowdsource popular cultural knowledge.

Numina by CTY (Project lead: Tara Pham) (St. Louis, Mo.): Allowing cities and planning organizations to capture more accurate pedestrian and cyclist data by installing a machine learning-based sensor tool in city neighborhoods.

Open Permit by Aecosoft Corp. (Project lead: Martin Maykel) (Miami): Helping citizens more easily access business permitting information by creating a platform that lets multiple jurisdictions present permit data in standard formats and that can be integrated with existing systems.

Perceptoscope (Project lead: Ben Sax) (Los Angeles): Helping civic institutions like museums and historical sites present local information through augmented-reality enabled, coin-operated binoculars that provide immersive experiences in public spaces using interactive art, historical recreations and real-time data visualizations.

Playable Stories by Arizona State University New Media Innovation Lab and Center for Games and Impact (Project Lead: Retha Hill, Juli James and Adam Ingram-Goble) (Tempe, Ariz.): Enabling journalists to produce interactive, mobile-ready news experiences, based on the principles of gaming and journalism, in a WordPress plugin and theme; for example, audiences will be able to interact with stories to choose sides, make decisions and see the outcomes.

Railroad Project (Project lead: Seth Forsgren) (Miami Beach, Fla.): Allowing journalists, governments and the public to foster two-way communications with their audiences, through a video messaging tool that captures both sides of a conversation.

The Ripple Mapping Tool by Allied Media Projects (Project lead: Jenny Lee) (Detroit): Allowing social good organizations and others to measure the outcomes of a particular event through a tool that collects information from participants on what they did or did not learn, whom they met and what, if anything, grew from the experience.

Semantic Timeline Maker by The Lens (Project lead: Abe Handler) (New Orleans, La.): Helping make sense of large amounts of data, such as emails and news articles, via a program that extracts structured facts from free text.

She said, he said by Open Media Foundation (Project lead: Leo Kacenjar) (Denver, Co.): Helping citizens hold legislators more accountable through a video and audio library tool that allows users to more easily access and discover archived video recordings from House of Representatives and Senate sessions.

Troll-Busters by (Project lead: Dr. Michelle Ferrier) (Athens, OH): Addressing cyberbullying of women bloggers and publishers through an online and mobile reporting, notification, and monitoring tool.

Unveillance (Project lead: Harlo Holmes) (New York): Enabling journalists and others to uncover answers and explore datasets through a friend-to-friend file-sharing platform in which users can “drop” documents into a folder have them quickly analyzed and explored.

Verified Pixel Project (Project lead: Samaruddin Stewart) (Daly City, Calif.): Helping news organizations quickly verify photos captured by everyday people through a platform that allows automated testing of the photos through metadata and image analysis.

Permalink
LINK: www.buzzfeed.com  ➚   |   Posted by: Justin Ellis   |   April 27, 2015

BuzzFeed wants to find a better way to weigh its viral success, and it wants to convert clicks to Pounds.

At the NewFronts presentations in New York today the company unveiled its new proprietary system for analyzing how content races across the the web — and sharing that information with its advertisers. Specifically, the “Process for Optimizing and Understanding Network Diffusion” is meant to shed a little light into the hidden corners of the social web. BuzzFeed has said that 75 percent of its 200 million monthly users are visiting the site through social media, so it would only make sense the company would want to better understand the patterns and habits of social sharing.

What exactly does Pound do? BuzzFeed publisher Dao Nguyen:

It follows propagations from one sharer to another, through all the downstream visits, even across social networks and one-to-one sharing platforms like Gchat and email.

Pound is the Process for Optimizing and Understanding Network Diffusion.

Pound does not store usernames or any personally identifiable information (PII) with the share events. Each node in the sharing graph is anonymous. We are not able to figure out who a user is by looking at the graph data. Pound data is collected based on an oscillating, anonymous hash in a sharer’s URL as a UTM code.

Instead of roping off social sharing into platform-based categories (how many came from Twitter vs. Facebook vs. Pinterest), Pound is designed to trace the way stories or videos are shared. It builds a pathway that shows all the routes a piece of content can take from being shared by one person over chat to exploding on Twitter.

What does it look like in action? BuzzFeed decided to examine the case of the infamous blue/black/white/gold dress that brought the Internet to a standstill in February. The initial post from BuzzFeed has been viewed more than 38 million times. Using Pound, they broke that down:

buzzfeedpound

Nguyen said they plan to use Pound to gather more granular insights on the type of content that resonates with people and to optimize their sharing strategies. And since Pound made its debut at the marketer-friendly NewFronts, the company will use the tool to give advertisers a better picture of their audience. They’ve already used it to evaluate the effectiveness of sponsored content:

It should not be a surprise BuzzFeed wants to build a better machine for understanding how content performs in the wider world outside its own website, as the company has been laying out its vision for distributed content over the last several months.

In March, it was reported that the company, along with The New York Times and National Geographic, was considering hosting content on Facebook. At SXSW, BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti offered a glimpse of the “cascade” of data that Pound provides. (Indeed, compare Pound to The New York Times’ similar-in-spirit Cascade project.)

Peretti told the audience then: “For us, it increasingly doesn’t matter where our content lives,” he said. “That can actually be a huge advantage.”

One measure of that success has been BuzzFeed’s success with video, reaching 1 billion monthly video views, with only 5 percent of that coming from BuzzFeed.com.

Permalink
LINK: en.ejo.ch  ➚   |   Posted by: Joshua Benton   |   April 21, 2015

The Guardian’s Wolfgang Blau has an interesting piece up at the European Journalism Observatory asking a question about the new Politico Europe, the D.C.-based site’s expansion into Brussels and the broader continent:

Politico Europe — the new Brussels-based site covering European politics — is doing important pioneer work in establishing the notion of there even being such a thing as a ‘European public sphere’.

For European publishers, this is not necessarily a space where you have to or want to be the first mover. It seems advantageous to first let Politico — backed by the politically very conservative, but entrepreneurially very aggressive German publishing giant Axel Springer — do some of the hard work of not only having to introduce its own brand, but with it — and more importantly — to establish the very idea of there being a European mid-layer between domestic and international journalism.

In the old world, you mostly had the choice between regional and nationwide publishers addressing domestic audiences and the few globalists who ‘cover the world for those who run it’, as my friend Dan Gillmor once put it, describing The Economist, the Financial Times or The Wall Street Journal.

[…]

It is quite likely that domestic newspapers, especially the ‘papers of record’, are culturally over-invested into the idea of the nation state as it only underlines their own importance and the value of the political access they enjoy in their respective capitals.

[…]

The usual — and very plausible — argument against launching pan-European publications thus far has been that there is no pan-European ad market yet and that paywalls are a terrible model to build an audience from scratch, especially outside of your domestic markets.

Politico, with its mix of ad revenue, paid industry newsletters, print ads and paid events might help break the old chicken-or-egg dilemma which has held back domestic publishers from venturing into this promising space for many years.

Blau is both well positioned to comment on this (as a German journalist helping run one of the U.K.’s top news brands) and a walking conflict of interest (since Politico Europe will be a competitor for The Guardian). And he’s right that political conglomerations line up with audience interests in inconsistent ways. (While the EU and NAFTA hardly make for a fair comparison — nowhere near same level of economic or political integration — one imagines a “North American” media outlet dedicated to covering the U.S., Canada, and Mexico probably wouldn’t go very far.)

There’s a long line of academic interest in the core of what Blau is talking about — to what degree do news outlets arise to cover communities of interest, and to what degree do news outlets create communities of interest? I’m reminded of a 2011 study by Krissy Clark and Geoff McGhee that asked a similar question: “Did the West Make Newspapers, or Did Newspapers Make the West?”

Finally — and because we haven’t hit our 2015 quota of Jürgen Habermas mentions on Nieman Lab yet — his thinking about the public sphere is an obvious point of reference:

More on the Habermasian carrier class here.

Permalink
LINK: shorensteincenter.org  ➚   |   Posted by: Joshua Benton   |   April 15, 2015

Our old friend (and former Nieman Fellow) David Skok got a nice promotion at The Boston Globe yesterday, being bumped up from digital advisor to the editor to both managing editor for digital and general manager of BostonGlobe.com. He also spent part of the day here on campus, giving a talk at the Shorenstein Center on his work there.

A few highlights:

The challenge is, on the Internet, I can write the best lede or nutgraf for a story in the world, but if you can’t read it on your phone within 0.1 seconds, it’s irrelevant, it’s invisible, and it doesn’t exist. If you’re going to be a digital product-driven organization, the user experience has to be the first and foremost [priority].

As newspapers were disrupted by Craigslist and other things, yes, there were technological reasons for why this happened. But it would be incredibly naive and arrogant of us as legacy publishers to suggest that we weren’t also responsible for our own demise, in our structures, in our cultures, in our processes that we have in our newsrooms.

There’s a great need to have a content management system that allows for the flexibility that reporters need and want to do their jobs. Whether it’s improving the content management system, getting better analytics…improving the resources that we give our people ultimately will help us as well.

Permalink
LINK: cmsw.mit.edu  ➚   |   Posted by: Joseph Lichterman   |   April 14, 2015

Where does the culture of the Internet come from? One important origin point, according to Kevin Driscoll: the mid-1970s standardization of phone jacks.

While the core technology behind today’s Internet was developed through the U.S. government-backed ARPANET, the things that define the culture of today’s Internet — sharing information, connecting with new people, playing games, even shopping — developed more through the bulletin board systems that proliferated before the advent of the World Wide Web. As Driscoll, a postdoctoral researcher at Microsoft Research, argued in a talk he gave at MIT last week:

We can think of this as a parallel world. There are parallel tracks here where the ARPANET is developing really robust ways of doing Internet working over a long distance with various types of media. Sometimes it goes over the wires, sometimes it goes over the airwaves, sometimes it goes through a satellite.

At the same time, there are hobbyists who are using just the telephone network that had been in place for decades — but they’re developing all this social technology on top of it. Figuring out how you should moderate the system, administer it. Who’s in charge? Who makes the rules? What are good rules? What are bad rules? How do you kick people off if they’re being a jerk? How do you get cool people to join you? All of this is happening on this “people’s Internet” layer.

According to Driscoll, the deregulation of the phone industry and the standardization of phone jacks allowed individuals to hook up things like fax machines and modems to the phone network and use it to communicate in new ways. Similarly, the popularity of CB radio in the 1970s helped introduce the concepts of communicating semi-anonymously over long distances — so as technology advanced, many avid CB radio users migrated to BBS.

The barriers to entry to BBS were relatively low. Computers were becoming more affordable, and it wasn’t too difficult to hook them up to the phone line, where you could find conversations relevant to your interests and, in many cases, safe spaces where you could discuss sensitive information that you couldn’t discuss elsewhere:

This was extremely important to communities who were using these systems and were otherwise facing oppression, or were marginalized, or their communication was being suppressed in other systematic sorts of ways. The Gay and Lesbian BBS list, which was compiled and circulated monthly, was organized by area code, so you can easily find and locate a system that’s near to you. You could think of lots of reasons why a system that is geared toward gay and lesbian users in the 1980s, it would be helpful to know if a system was nearby. Not only is it cheaper to call — you have an economic reason to do it — but there’s a chance that those people are dealing with conditions that are unique to that region.

And though bulletin boards eventually faded, those conversations and online social norms were carried elsewhere on the Internet. Even as the Internet continues to spread globally and splinter into countless messaging apps, social networks, and more, the DNA of those early bulletin boards lives on in today’s connected world.

Permalink
 
Join the 15,000 who get the freshest future-of-journalism news in our daily email.
The Upshot uses geolocation to push readers deeper into data
The New York Times story changes its text depending on where you’re reading it: “It’s a fine line between a smarter default and being creepy.”
Elise goes East: How NPR’s new Seoul bureau chief is using Tumblr to complement her reporting
Since moving to South Korea in March, Elise Hu has been using Tumblr to document everything from the serious to the silly — and expand her voice beyond the NPR airwaves.
When disgusting goes viral: Strong negative emotions can push social sharing through the roof
In this excerpt from his new book, Alfred Hermida explores the connection between moral violation and Facebook likes.
What to read next
900
tweets
The State of the News Media 2015: Newspapers ↓, smartphones ↑
The annual omnibus report from Pew outlines a story of continued trends more than radical change.
579What USA Today Sports learned covering the Final Four on Periscope and Snapchat
These new platforms are optimized for realtime news on phones, but there are lots of questions for news organizations — from what content to share to how to measure their effectiveness.
410Journalists shouldn’t lose their rights in their move to private platforms
The shift to distributed content means concepts like fair use are increasingly in the hands of private companies — like SoundCloud.
These stories are our most popular on Twitter over the past 30 days.
See all our most recent pieces ➚
Encyclo is our encyclopedia of the future of news, chronicling the key players in journalism’s evolution.
Here are a few of the entries you’ll find in Encyclo.   Get the full Encyclo ➚
DNAinfo
Sports Illustrated
ReadWrite
National Review
The New Yorker
Gawker Media
Storify
International Consortium of Investigative Journalists
IRE/NICAR
EveryBlock
NBC News
AOL