The real story in this mess is not the threat that algorithms pose to Amazon shoppers, but the threat that algorithms pose to journalism. By forcing reporters to optimize every story for clicks, not giving them time to check or contextualize their reporting, and requiring them to race to publish follow-on articles on every topic, the clickbait economics of online media encourage carelessness and drama.
Friday, September 22nd, 2017
Monday, September 11th, 2017
Saturday, April 1st, 2017
A wide-ranging post from Andrew on the downsides of Google’s AMP solution.
I don’t agree with all the issues he has with the format itself (in my opinion, the fact that AMP pages can’t have
script elements is a feature, not a bug), but I wholeheartedly concur with his concerns about the AMP cache:
It recklessly devalues the URL
Spot on! And as Andrew points out, in this age of fake news, devaluing the URL is a recipe for disaster.
It’s hard to avoid the idea that the primary objective of AMP is really about hosting publisher content inside the Google ecosystem (as is more obviously the objective of Facebook Instant Articles and Apple News).
Sunday, March 26th, 2017
A lot has been written about the future of journalism, the importance of businesses like the LA Times being profitable as a way to protect American democracy. I agree with that in theory. But this sort of incompetence and contempt for readers makes me completely uninterested in helping their business.
Like Craig says…
between personal data suction and total disrespect of bandwidth, I'm not sure how you can *not* run ad blockers and browse the web— A Walkin' Dude (@craigmod) March 26, 2017
Tuesday, January 3rd, 2017
I really like Liz’s long-zoom perspective in this look ahead to journalism in 2017.
Wednesday, December 28th, 2016
Wednesday, November 2nd, 2016
Continuous web death.
The modern journalist is not an expert on the web. They and their colleagues have spent a large part of the last twenty-five years dismissing the open web at every stage. They are not the people you can trust to either accurately assess the web or to make usable websites. You can’t even trust them to make sensible decisions about web strategy. Just look at their damn websites!
Monday, July 18th, 2016
I lived in Freiburg for years but I never knew of this story.
Monday, November 2nd, 2015
A few months back, I got an email with the subject line:
interview request (Fortune magazine - U.S.)
“Ooh, sounds interesting”, I thought. I read on…
I’ve been tasked with writing a profile of you from my tech editor at Fortune, a business magazine in the U.S.
I’m headed to Brighton this weekend and hoping we can meet up. Can you call me at +X XXX XXX XXX as soon as you can? Thanks. I’ll try you on your mobile in a few minutes.
Sounded urgent! “I’d better call him straight away”, I thought. So I did just that. It went to voicemail. The voicemail inbox was full. I couldn’t leave a message.
So I sent him an email and eventually we managed to have a phone conversation together. Richard—for that is his name—told me about the article he wanted to write about the “scene” in Brighton. He asked if there was anyone else I thought he should speak to. I was more than happy to put him in touch with Rosa and Dot, Jacqueline, Jonathan, and other lovely people behind Brighton institutions like Codebar, Curiosity Hub, and The Skiff. We also arranged to meet up when he came to town.
The day of Richard’s visit rolled around and I spent the afternoon showing him around town and chatting. He seemed somewhat distracted but occasionally jotted down notes in response to something I said.
The resultant article is online now. It’s interesting to see which of my remarks were used in the end …and the way that what looks like direct quotes are actually nothing of the kind. Still, that’s way that journalism tends to work—far more of a subjective opinionated approach than simply objectively documenting.
The article focuses a lot on San Francisco, and Richard’s opinions of the scene there. It makes for an interesting read, but it’s a little weird to see quotes attributed to me interspersed amongst a strongly-worded criticism of a city I don’t live in.
Still, the final result is a good read. And I really, really like the liberal sprinkling of hyperlinks throughout—more of this kind of thing in online articles, please!
There is one hyperlink omission though. It’s in this passage where Richard describes what I’m eating as we chatted:
“But here’s the thing I love about this town,” said Keith, in between bites of a sweet corn fritter, at the festival’s launch party this year. “It cares as much about art and education as about tech and commerce.”
That sweet corn fritter was from CanTina. Very tasty it was too.
Saturday, October 31st, 2015
Critical thinking without hope is cynicism. Hope without critical thinking is naïveté.
Echoing Margaret Atwood’s observation:
If we abandon hope, we’re cooked. If we rely on nothing but hope, we’re cooked. So I would say judicious hope is necessary.
Thursday, April 24th, 2014
An astute takedown of the political language in a New York Times article.
George Lakoff would be proud.
Sunday, March 23rd, 2014
Cleanup of Silicon Valley Superfund site takes environmental toll | The Center for Investigative Reporting
A terrific piece of well-illustrated data-driven journalism.
Tuesday, August 13th, 2013
On the one hand, this is yet another Snowfall clone. On the other hand, the fact that it’s responsive is impressive.
Adam Curtis usually just pours forth apopheniac ramblings, but this is a really great collection of pieces from the archive on the history of incompetence in the spying world.
Y’know, the best explanation I’ve heard so far of the NSA and GCHQ’s sinister overreaching powers is simply that they need to come up with bigger and bigger programmes to justify getting bigger and bigger budgets. Hanlon’s Law, Occam’s Razor, and all that.
Saturday, February 23rd, 2013
It’s not funny, because it’s true.
Sunday, January 13th, 2013
I like this idea of slow journalism: taking seven years to tell a story.
Friday, January 4th, 2013
Some of the past year’s best long-form non-fiction, gathered together into a handy readlist for your portable epub pleasure.
Friday, December 21st, 2012
Excellent journalism combined with excellent art direction into something that feels just right for the medium of the web.
Wednesday, November 14th, 2012
When I was preparing my Responsive Enhancement workshop for last year’s dConstruct, I thought I should create an example site to demonstrate the various techniques I would be talking about to demonstrate how responsive design could be combined with progressive enhancement to make something works great on any device.
Round about that time, while I was scratching my head trying to figure out what the fake example site should be, I got an email from Bobbie asking if I wanted to meet up for a coffee and a chat. We met up and he told me about a project he wanted to do with his colleague Jim Giles. They wanted to create a place for really good long-form journalism on science and technology.
“The thing is,” said Bobbie, “we want to make sure it’s readable on phones, on tablets, on Kindles, everything really. But we don’t know the best approach to take for that.”
“Well, Bobbie, it’s funny you should mention that,” I said. “I’m currently putting together a workshop all about responsive design, which sounds perfect for what you want to do. And I need to create an example site to showcase the ideas.”
It was a perfect match. Bobbie gave me his design principles, personas, and—most importantly—content. In return, he would get a prototype that would demonstrate how that content could be readable on any device; perfect for drumming up interest and investment.
The workshop went really well, and some great ideas came out of the brainstorming the attendees were doing.
A few months later, Bobbie and Jim put the project—now called Matter—up on Kickstarter. They met their target, and then some. Clearly there was a lot of interest in well-written original journalism on the web. Now they had to build it.
They got hold of Phil to do the backend so that was sorted but Bobbie asked me if I knew any kick-ass designers and front-end developers.
“Well, I would love to work on it,” I said. “So how about working with Clearleft?”
“I didn’t think you guys would be available,” he said. “I’d love to work with you!”
And so we began a very fun collaboration. Paul moved his desk next to mine and we started playing around with the visual design and front-end development. Phil and Bobbie came by and we hammered out design principles, user journeys, and all that fun stuff.
It was really nice to work on a project where readability took centre stage. “Privilege the reading experience” was our motto.
Paul did some fantastic work, not just on creating a typographic system, but also creating a brand identity including what I think is a really great logo.
I started putting together a system of markup and CSS patterns, using the device lab to test them. Phil started implementing those patterns using Django. It all went very smoothly indeed.
The first piece is a doozy. It’s called Do No Harm:
Why do some people want to amputate a perfectly healthy limb? And why would any doctor help them?
If this is indicative of the kind of work that Matter will be publishing, it will definitely live up to its ambitious promise:
MATTER commissions, crafts and publishes unmissable journalism about science, technology and the ideas shaping our future.