Nieman Foundation at Harvard
HOME
          
LATEST STORY
Postcards and laundromat visits: The Texas Tribune audience team experiments with IRL distribution
ABOUT                    SUBSCRIBE
Nov. 20, 2013, 3:31 p.m.
LINK: blog.nytlabs.com  ➚   |   Posted by: Joshua Benton   |   November 20, 2013

Noah Feehan, a “Maker” at The New York Times R&D Lab, wanted to create a physical artifact that marked all the changes in Times headlines, in real time. So he built Diff,

nyt-rnd-diffa small device that monitors the internal events stream of The New York Times and prints out a summary each time an active headline is changed. As it runs, it generates a long stream of changes printed on thermal paper: text that was removed from a headline is rendered as inverted, while additions to a headline are underlined…

Of course, we were aware of and inspired by the excellent NewsDiffs project, which provides a more complete and persistent summary of changes to entire articles across several different websites. Our objective in making Diff was as much rooted in the notion of “fixing” an evanescent resource in a place and time (as NewsDiffs does) as it was a reaction to the emerging shape of “internet things” whose purpose is to transpose or transform the properties of network space onto physical space, and vice versa.

Diff found that headlines get changed roughly every five to seven minutes, unless big news was breaking.

Okay, here’s a Nieman Lab hook:

We’ve only just begun exploring the full potential of the data source for this project, which is exciting in its own right: it’s basically a near-real-time, highly-detailed stream of every event that our publishing framework sees, from the first words typed into our CMS, to an article’s publishing in its own section, to its promotion to the front page.

I unplugged Diff after a week or so of printing, and have saved the 300-odd feet of generated text for some future application. Expect to see more stream-processing tools, internet-things and interaction experiments here soon!

Feehan’s built a lot of nifty things in his young career, but for me it’ll be hard for him to top Steak Filter, in which he made a video of a steak cooking by sending the video signal through the steak as it cooked. (More cooked = less moisture = degraded signal. Now that’s exploring meatspace.)

(This is what eventually happens to the signal.)

Show tags
 
Join the 60,000 who get the freshest future-of-journalism news in our daily email.
Postcards and laundromat visits: The Texas Tribune audience team experiments with IRL distribution
As social platforms falter for news, a number of nonprofit outlets are rethinking distribution for impact and in-person engagement.
Radio Ambulante launches its own record label as a home for its podcast’s original music
“So much of podcast music is background, feels like filler sometimes, but with our composers, it never is.”
How uncritical news coverage feeds the AI hype machine
“The coverage tends to be led by industry sources and often takes claims about what the technology can and can’t do, and might be able to do in the future, at face value in ways that contribute to the hype cycle.”