All posts by Karl Martino

Voyager 1

Voyager 1 and Cosmos

Voyager 1 has recently entered interstellar space, take a moment to pause and think about it, it will leave you inspired.

Yesterday my daughter and I watched episode 6 of Carl Sagan’s Cosmos,“Travellers’ Tales” (watch it for free at Hulu). One of my favorite chapters of Cosmos, it pulls together stories of Earth’s early explorers and the team at NASA who were working on Voyager. Brit Mandelo wrote a great description of the episode:

“We have travelled this way before, and there is much to be learned by studying those great voyages of a few centuries ago.”—This is the guiding sentiment of “Travellers’ Tales.” It’s a literary sentiment, the idea that stories structure our world, and that stories are the commodity that we gain from exploration then bring back to trade amongst ourselves. The juxtaposition of stories—the 17th century Dutch scientific and exploratory culture with the late 70′s narratives of the Voyager spacecrafts—allows us, in a metonymic way, to understand a piece of human nature that Sagan seems to be arguing holds us together as a species.

Brooks Barnes, at The New York Times, wrote “In a Breathtaking First, NASA’s Voyager 1 Exits the Solar System”:

Even among planetary scientists, who tend to dream large, the idea that something they built could travel beyond the Sun’s empire and keep grinding away is impressive. Plenty of telescopes gaze at the far parts of the Milky Way, but Voyager 1 can now touch and feel the cold, unexplored region in between the stars and send back detailed dispatches about conditions there

The New York Times piece quotes Suzanne Dodd, one of the original engineers on the project and who is now Voyager Project Manager.

See Philadelphia in a new (and old) light: Developing Philly and The Great Experiment

“Developing Philly” just posted the fourth update in its ongoing series to share the evolving and growing Philadelphia technology and media scene with the world. Each episode is under 15 minutes and is worth every minute of your time.

I feel so much a part of this, and I hope you do too. We are making this happen.

Here’s the latest:

Make sure to catch the all of the ongoing series!

Along similar lines, but coming from a place that is less from the ground up and focused on Philadelphia’s place as “America’s first city” is “The Great Experiment”, which recently published an inspirational trailer you have to see:

To my friends and family who are stuck thinking about Philadelphia in a negative light, who have never seen the city for all it is, the truth of our home is varied and exciting. There is so much to do, and so much to fight for. I’m proud to still call this city home.

Read how a few Philly students organized themselves to a few hundred to be heard

AxisPhilly: Isaiah Thompson: “How a few Philly high school students organized themselves into a few hundred in four days”:

It began, not surprisingly perhaps, with a modest online message.

About two weeks ago, school district officials had announced, once again, a serious hole in the District’s budget and had laid out, once again, severe cuts that would be implemented if a roughly $300 million hole wasn’t filled — this time invoking layoffs and cuts to programs, especially arts and extracurricular.

And as students pondered cuts to their favorite programs, the irony that last Friday would mark “Teacher Appreciation Day,” was not lost upon them.

Make sure to read Isaiah Thompson’s full story at AxisPhilly and get inspired, and maybe let the district and state know these ever increasing cuts are unacceptable.

For more on the impact of the cuts, read Rebecca Poyourow’s editorial at Philly.com.

“Rebuilding the News”, How Did We Get Here and Why?

All great innovations come from an alchemy of the present *built* on the past. If you can tear it apart, see it from multiple perspectives, and observe the feedback loops that feed into the systems that drove you where you are currently, then you have a powerful tool.

That’s what makes C.W. Anderson’s “Rebuilding the News: Metropolitan Journalism in the Digital Age” important.

Far more than a “how the sausage is made” account of how things worked for a period of time (see the bravely open piece from “A Day in the Life of a Digital Editor, 2013″, by Alexis C. Madrigal in the Atlantic), or a historical record, it peels the onion on 2000-2010 newspaper media, and reveals the opportunities, stress, and strain of the time and lessons that can be derived from them.

I’ll have it on my bookshelf next to “The Innovator’s Dilemma”, since it seems to be so reflective of it, without intention of it.

You know, “How the Sausage is Made” is a terrible metaphor, one that I never heard until I worked at Philly.com.

In a conversation I talked about sharing the some of the decision making workflow (why do certain stories make it to the home page, how can something or someone influence that), with users of the site. When I brought up this idea, someone replied that “No one likes to see how the sausage is made.” There were nods to the wisdom of this assessment, and the conversation moved on.

Me? I can’t help but watch “How It’s Made” in marathon sessions where I melt into the couch. I like inside baseball knowledge, it gives me context into why things work the way they do, and how they came about.

I believe on a visceral level that when a group is attempting to do something “new”, and they refuse to even acknowledge the experience of the past, what you end up with is more of the same, or more of what took place further back in history. Sometimes that’s appropriate. Those lessons give you an advantage and a springboard to success. Sometimes those lessons can teach us what not to do.

That’s why I’m so optimistic about where we are now. There are a lot of lessons that are being put to practice by organizations and people all across Philly. That alchemy of past and present is in full swing like never before, with the belief you need to keep, that you can make things better.

Disclaimer, yes, I’m in this book. Philly Future is in this book. Norgs is in this book. So are many people who I respect and admire who have worked so hard over the past ten years, in a tumultuous line of work, that is important to our world, are in this book.

And part of me feels a little bit shamed for letting my participation in all this drop on the floor 7 years or so ago. But only a little since I wouldn’t trade these 7 years for anything. So, for some closure, I’m going to follow Chris Wink’s advice and ‘write that post’ sometime soon.

For more on the book:

Listen to a great interview with C.W. Anderson at newbooksincommunications.com.

Read Mathew Ingram at paidContent, “The biggest roadblock to media success? A traditional culture of journalistic hubris”

Buy it: “Rebuilding the News: Metropolitan Journalism in the Digital Age”

Technically Philly launches their redesign

Technically Philly launched a new version of their website this week. It is a fantastic redesign and kudos to all.

There is a subtle shift that’s taken place here, that deserves some additional congratulations. Homegrown Technically Philly is now an organization that has a presence across a growing number of cities, and the domain name, site design, and name, reflects it. So get used to calling ‘Technically Philly’, found at technicallyphilly.com, simply ‘Technical.ly’ at found at technical.ly.

Here is a nice video about what they are about: YouTube.com: TP:

NICAR 2013 Links

Mike Ball, coworker and friend, wrote up a great summary of what he saw at NICAR 2013. It was great hearing his enthusiasm when he got back from what sounds like was a fantastic conference. Check out his post.

More on NICAR 2013:

IRE: NICAR 2013

Nieman Journalism Lab: NICAR 2013

Chrys Wu: Tools, Slides and Links fro NICAR13

ONA Philly

Hacks/Hackers Philadelphia