Tag Archive - NY Times

The New York Times’ River of News

The New York Times' River of News
In adapting new mediums, there is always a period where the shape of the old form is mirrored in the new form’s space. For example, an early television ad looked like this. Radio had simply repositioned itself in front of a camera. It took years for advertisers to fully realize what could be achieved on the small screen. Nearly half a century later, the highly polished 30 second spot that those early sponsor announcements had evolved into would make the jump online with little change –aside from a taking advantage of more lenient regulations– when internet video came of age. Even today, the “best” viral ads still follow the tried and true format.

In a similar pattern, the online newspaper has always adapted the traditional layout of its printed cousin. The better rags have introduced interactive components and with the onset of blogging, there has been, for better or worse , the ability for reader comments. But the overall structure has remained intact. Meanwhile, sites such as Facebook, Friend Feed, Twitter and, of course, the all-powerful RSS feed have turned our mode of consuming information from categorized columns into a constantly updating flow.

Today, the New York Times, in what is being heralded by the likes of Jay Rosen (@jayrosen_nyu) and Dave Winer (@davewiner) as a watershed moment, introduces the Times Wire, an at-a-glance view of the paper’s latest content, in reverse chronological order without any other weighting or sorting. As Winer states, “They’re now presenting their news flow as a flow. Gone is the pretense that news on the Internet works like news on paper. Welcome to the NY Times river of news”.

RSS has been with us for 10 years now. And unlike a number of other trends and technologies, it has survived and thrived and essentially become the backbone for the current information revolution. After a decade, one might ask of the NY Times shift in format “So what?” or “Why did it take so long?”. Or, to the more discerning observer, it is a moment to make note: of both the validation of the new form and the prevailing relevance of one of the older forms’ greatest champions.

The No Stats All Star

The No Stats All Star
This weekend’s NY Times magazine features a brilliant article by Michael Lewis that takes a look at the career of NBA forward Shane Battier, a player who on paper appears unremarkable: a low scorer with few rebounds or blocks to his name. But upon deeper investigation, by stepping outside of the normal stats and figures and looking at more abstract reports on player performance, what becomes remarkably clear is this one indisputable fact: when Battier is on the court, not only does his team play much better, but the opposing team plays much worse.

What Lewis determines through his article is that Battier is an unselfish player in a game that creates endless opportunities for selfish behaviour. He compares the game of basketball to that of baseball where, in contrast, the decision that is best for the single player is almost always best for the team. In basketball however, there is a far less defined path en route to scoring points. Decisions are made constantly fed more by ego than by strategy, more by contractual expectations than by rationale.

Battier plays a different game, one based on a sharp attention to detail, a cerebral understanding of opponents’ behavior and a strict adherence to process. His decisions on the court are not influenced by anything outside of this process. He will ask not to start if it means that he will be on court more often against the player that he most needs to guard. The blocks he makes happen before the player he is guarding raises the ball above his shoulders and therefore do not statistically count. He will work tirelessly to keep a superstar like Kobe Bryant out of his shooting zone all evening with the knowledge that when the game is over, all his work will be lost in the statistics: Bryant will still be the game’s leading scorer; but it will have taken him twice at many shots to get there.

This all got me thinking about how such a process could benefit the way that the teams that I work with interact. How many decisions are made every day in the design world for reasons outside of that strict adherence to process? How does ego or the simple need to “be billable” affect our behaviour? More importantly, how can I as an individual act unselfishly in order to improve the overall performance of my team?

On The New City..

“The amount of building becomes obscene without a blueprint. Each time you ask yourself, Do you have the right to do this much work on this scale if you don’t have an opinion about what the world should be like? We really feel that. But is there time for a manifesto? I don’t know.”

–Rem Koolhaas

“No global reasons..”

Jean Nouvel
It was only after seeing the rendering for the Hines tower next to a photo of the Institut du Monde Arabe in today’s NY Times Magazine article that I made the connection and realized, holy shit, Jean Nouvel is hands down my favourite architect. Then I got lost in his website for about 3 hours…

That Screaming Orange Logo

The Tide Logo
“[J. Duncan Berry of Applied Iconology] noted the effectiveness of the original Tide package, which communicated “cyclone in a box,” he says. “There’s this great dynamic tension there. The word “Tide” is bursting out of the circle, and the circle is standing out of the box. It’s almost a baroque composition; it’s like what Steven Spielberg would do if he were designing a brand.” The idea was that Tide is “a force of nature ” it’s a phase shift. After all, an effective synthetic detergent was a real innovation in 1947, a result of years of expensive research and development. The bull’s-eye look was actually borrowed from earlier P.&G.; products, Dash and Oxydol. But in his memorable culture and design book, The Total Package, Thomas Hine noted that some sophisticated color research involving a psychologist who specialized in such things went into selecting a bright scheme that would suggest sufficient power, tempered with the likable blue that had a more sensitive connotation. Reaching the market just as automatic washing machines were catching on, Tide was a sensation; anecdotal accounts from the time suggest people lined up to get hold of the stuff as if it were an iPhone.”

From NY Times Magazine’s “Consumed” by Rob Walker

Rumours of my death have been greatly exaggerated

Paul is dead

“In the form of cached Web sites, evacuated blogs, forgotten MySpace pages and abandoned Flickr feeds, ghosts frolic, beeping and flashing on autopilot. The jolly online zombies look the way they did the day they died, but the light left their eyes the last day their souls logged in.”
–Virginia Hefferman, The Medium

“ok so this is my page for me and all the spooky things that happen to me don’t think Iam crazy and don’t think that I am makenig things up but for the true believers you can find alot of things here that you might find reasoureful of what not.so if your ready you can read my page and chill out…feel free to look around and have fun. “
–first and last entry on iamaloser.blogspot.com, June 18, 2002

“If you like a certain blog, make friends with the blogger, and then later they abandon their blog, and do not respond to emails, should you be worried? Contact the police? Make a missing persons report? Google their name and search for an obituary? What are you ethically obligated to do in this situation?”
from Dropping out of the blogosphere

“Most of these screenshots (many of which are annotated) were collected during the dotcom bust of 1999-2001, but I continue to add new victims to the rolls as they succomb to the forces of cyber-entropy.”
— Steve Baldwin, The Museum of Interactive Failure

“What would cause people to leave such a beautiful place?”
— WebUrbanists.com’s Urban Abandonments Parts I & II

Visualizing Data for the Masses

New York Times Info Graphics
Searching for examples of info graphics from the New York Times, I found this great collection of work by Megan Jaegerman (on Tufte’s site no less). Also worth checking out: Matthew Ericson, the Deputy Graphics Director at the NY Times, recently gave the keynote at an info graphics conference in California. You can download the slides (pdf) for this presentation titled “Visualizing Data for the Masses: Information Graphics at The New York Times”. (all of this via: db79.com)

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