I must admit I’ve been wincing a little every time I see a graph with a logarithmic scale in a news article about COVID-19. It takes quite a bit of cognitive work to translate to a linear scale and get the real story.
Saturday, May 23rd, 2020
Sunday, April 26th, 2020
Digital preservation of dead-tree media:
The Stacks Reader is an online collection of classic journalism and writing about the arts that would otherwise be lost to history. Motivated less by nostalgia than by preservation, The Stacks Reader is a living archive of memorable storytelling—a museum for stories.
Wednesday, February 26th, 2020
Saturday, November 16th, 2019
The benchmarks that advertising companies use — intended to measure the number of clicks, sales and downloads that occur after an ad is viewed — are fundamentally misleading. None of these benchmarks distinguish between the selection effect (clicks, purchases and downloads that are happening anyway) and the advertising effect (clicks, purchases and downloads that would not have happened without ads).
It gets worse: the brightest minds of this generation are creating algorithms which only increase the effects of selection.
A terrificly well-written piece on the emperor’s new clothes worn by online advertising. Equal parts economic rigour and Gladwellian anecdata, it’s a joy to read! Kudos to Alana Gillespie for the great translation work (the original article was written in Dutch).
We currently assume that advertising companies always benefit from more data. … But the majority of advertising companies feed their complex algorithms silos full of data even though the practice never delivers the desired result. In the worst case, all that invasion of privacy can even lead to targeting the wrong group of people.
This insight is conspicuously absent from the debate about online privacy. At the moment, we don’t even know whether all this privacy violation works as advertised.
The interaction design of this article is great too—annotations, charts, and more!
Sunday, March 31st, 2019
A Public Record at Risk: The Dire State of News Archiving in the Digital Age - Columbia Journalism Review
This well-researched in-depth piece doesn’t paint a pretty picture for archiving online news:
Of the 21 news organizations in our study, 19 were not taking any protective steps at all to archive their web output. The remaining two lacked formal strategies to ensure that their current practices have the kind of longevity to outlast changes in technology.
Monday, November 20th, 2017
Melody Kramer interviews Eric Bailey, formerly of the Boston Globe.
Sunday, October 29th, 2017
A lovely interactive photo essay charting the results of what happens when evolution produces a life form that allows a planet to take selfies.
Tuesday, October 3rd, 2017
Newsvine has closed. Mike reflects on what he built, with a particular eye to the current online news situation.
When we look at how the average person’s news and media diet has changed over the last decade or so, we can trace it directly back to the way these and other modern organizations have begun feeding us our news. Up until 10 or 15 years ago, we essentially drank a protein shake full of news. A good amount of fruits and vegetables, some grains, some dairy, some tofu, and then a little bit of sugar, all blended together. Maybe it wasn’t the tastiest thing in the world but it kept us healthy and reasonably informed. Then, with cable news we created a fruit-only shake for half the population and a vegetable-only shake for the other half. Then with internet news, we deconstructed the shake entirely and let you pick your ingredients, often to your own detriment. And finally, with peer-reinforced, social news networks, we’ve given you the illusion of a balanced diet, but it’s often packed with sugar, carcinogens, and other harmful substances without you ever knowing. And it all tastes great!
There’s also this interesting litmus test for budding entrepreneurs:
We didn’t know for sure if it was going to work, but the day we decided we’d be happy to have tried it even if it failed was the day we ended up quitting our jobs (incidentally, if you are thinking about leaving your job for a new risky thing, this is the acid test I recommend).
Friday, September 22nd, 2017
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.
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.