Awesome visualizations from the NYTimes and Guardian

Check out the terrific timeline visualization of protests in the Middle East. The navigation and elements surfaced simultaneously is informative and makes exploring fun.

The NYTimes engineering blog “Open” shares novel uses of its API, some of which are physical!

A new CMS to watch?

Armstrong is a new open source CMS in development, based upon Django, and funded by the Knight Foundation.

There is a recent piece about Armstrong posted at The Nieman Journalism Lab with a good thread questioning the need and the backing technology since other options exist. I think the more experimentation in this space the better because as Rafe Colburn has rightly said, “Content management is still an unsolved problem”. Rafe ruminates that, “For some reason, finding an adequate balance between usability, flexibility, and performance is nearly impossible.”, and it can seem that way if you are shooting at a fixed target. Anyone who has worked on a CMS project has felt this way. I certainly have from time to time. The trick is to have a solution that not only meets your needs, but can evolve as those targets shift, and educating those involved that it is a part of a larger ecosystem where evolution is a feature and not a bug.

Hyper-local is about community or it fails

There have been numerous efforts at building services focused on local communities, and almost all of them, that have not had a community element to them, have failed to one degree or another.

Just being an aggregator is not enough. You need to curate. Moderate. Collate. Summarize. Connect. Most of all – communicate! Sure software helps. But it requires hands on work by people too. And it takes time. Like forming any relationship does.

GigaOm: Mathew Ingram: “Hyper-Local News: It’s About the Community or It Fails”

ReadWriteWeb: Marshall Kirkpatrick: “Hyperlocal Heartbreak: Why Haven’t Neighborhood News Technologies Worked Out?”

Is – the universe – just bits of information?

It is a fascinating question that led to some awesome lunchtime conversation the other day at work. Some more food for thought was recently written by Freeman Dyson in The New York Review of Books, who was reviewing James Gleick’s newest, “The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood”, which I’m gonna just have to read. Metafilter, as usual, had an interesting discussion to follow.

Other related links:

Nicholas Carr at The Daily Beast

Wired: Why the Basis of the Universe Isn’t Matter or Energy—It’s Data

Philadelphia Inquirer: Tirdad Derakhshani: Information Please

Must reading about Kensington at

The Inquirer recently wrapped up a series about the struggles faced in Kensington and Philadelphia’s First Congressional District – the 2nd hungriest in the nation: “Hunger in the First”:

Following this series, no doubt brought on by the horror of the Kensington strangler, was a greater spotlight cast by the papers on the neighborhood that included a great set of independent articles:

All are worth reading.

An article that introduces us to a new news effort coming *from* Kensington deserves a special shout out because it is efforts like this that point us towards the future or news and maybe the neighborhood itself: “Philadelphia duo bring Internet attention to Kensington’s woes”. That duo is Richie Antipuna and Heather Barton and their video series can be found on

I just had to round up these articles and post them to one page since the subject matter was so related. Now if there was a place to discuss these stories collectively. Reddit’s Philadelphia sub-reddit perhaps? That feels wrong. The stories need an official home someplace where people from the neighborhood and outside the neighborhood can discuss them collectively. Why do I care about that? Because when people connect over subject matter that is when ideas can take shape and action can take place.

Ever see the “Mother of all Demos”?

In 1968 Douglas C. Engelbart, along with a team of 17 researchers at Stanford, in a 90 minute taped demonstration, showed us what was then the future – which is now the present (and soon to be the past?) – hypertext, gui based interaction, online collaboration including email, and more.

Stanford has a terrific page on the demo, including video clips of it broken down by time and topic, and a single clip of the whole thing. If you’ve never seen this before, take the time, scroll to the bottom of this, and watch beginning to end. It’s not called “The Mother of all Demos” for nothing.

I’ve watched this a few times over the years and I keep coming back to it and being blown away. How far have we gone? How far have we not? There has been much added to the mix these past ten years, but it was a long way from there to here.



It used to cost a $1 trillion, now it costs $60 dollars

Computer World: “Today’s $60 1TB drive would have cost $1 trillion in the ’50s”

YouTube: “TEDxPhilly – Robert J. Moore – The data explosion “:


Hal R. Varian, University of California, Berkeley: Economics of Information Technology

MIT Technology Review: “The 70 Online Databases that Define Our Planet” Data Store

TechCrunch: Devin Coldewey: “The Dangers Of Externalizing Knowledge”


O’Reilly: Mike Loukides: “What is Data Science?”

*You* Fix the Budget

Try this nifty interactive, by the New York Times, that enables you to make the hard decisions.

Video: Jon Stewart’s speech at the Rally For Sanity

YouTube: Jon Stewart’s speech at the Rally For Sanity.: