Category Archives: Communications, Connection, Internet, Web, Media

A hosted blog at Philly.com to subscribe to: One Step Away

One Step Away is a monthly ‘street newspaper’ produced by people experiencing homelessness in the Philadelphia region. I always make sure to pick up a copy once or twice a month from its many vendors in across Center City, some of which are authors in the paper.

Philly.com has been hosting a number of blogs on their site over the past few years, some of which have brought it much controversy, but this one should not, it helps raise the voice of those whose voice needs to be heard. Check out the One Step Away blog at Philly.com.

What is a Data Journalism Organization?

Yesterday, Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight launched, making a bet that you want news stories backed by data to help find the signal in the noise. Like Garret said, succinctly, it’s exciting.

In addition to this, Ezra Klein’s effort and others, are giving me hope we’re entering a phase of investment and innovation again in the news space, and by extension, how we tell stories in media. The Nieman Journalism Lab is a great place to follow what’s going on.

nate_intro_new300 Screen Shot 2014-03-18 at 6.30.59 AM

Happy 25th World Wide Web!

Hard to believe that the World Wide Web launched into being on March 12th, 1994. Its ethos, its architectural principals, and its use, have helped to open the world to each of us, with the simple power of the link. My career, and more important, the friendships I have made, wouldn’t have been possible without it.

A couple years after launch, in 1996, I attempted to launch my own home page on VoiceNet, a Philadelphia ISP.  Like Kimberly Blessing (a friend, old coworker, and influence on my career), I decided to see if I could restore it, and here it is, mostly.

My home page in 1996

Thank you WWW

Check out:

Blogging Dead?

Jason Kottke wrote for Nieman Journalism Lab an opinion piece, that along with the additional notes he added on on his personal blog, I mostly agree with. The roles that blogs grew to take on during their heyday (when was that really?), have been largely subsumed by social networks and open micro-blogging ecosystems these past few years. But that’s no reason to stop, and like him, I’ll be doing this for a long time going forward.

This form of web publishing has provided me opportunities to make connections and friendships from across the world. It has helped provide me a means of sharing what I’m passionate about and to learn from those who care about the same. It has given me a place to experiment with multiple publishing platforms and idioms over the years, in a challenging, exciting environment, that is still filled with promise, the open Web. And it has been a place where I can build something, make something, that at times gave me a way to give back to my community.

I’m going to keep on, keeping on (along with a lot of my friends who are doing the same).

Related:

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”

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

Life Lessons from Programming: Check your assumptions

Jon Udell wrote a short piece that resonated with me on taking a principle from software engineering and applying it to discourse and relationships: “Check your assumptions”.

He takes the idea that when debugging, you should:

Focus on understanding why the program is doing what it’s doing, rather than why it’s not doing what you wanted it to.

And translating that to:

Focus on understanding why your spouse or child or friend or political adversary is doing what he or she is doing, rather than why he or she is not doing what you wanted him or her to.

That flips your behavior from one that is trying to modify someone else’s behavior to someone that is listening actively.

Pretty profound.

What other examples of this to think about?