posts about or somewhat related to ‘The New York Times’

The New York Times to revamp online archive

TimesMachine, a treasure trove of NY Times papers published between 1851 and 1922, just got a makeover. The news giant recently released the prototype with six issues, and gave details on the technology behind it (via NY Times):

In order to build the new TimesMachine, we repurposed technology and techniques from an unlikely quarter: geographic information systems. Every scanned issue of The Times is essentially one very large digital image. For instance, our scan of the June 20, 1969 issue is a 13.2 gigapixel image that weighs in at over 200 megabytes. Since it is impractical to transmit such an image to every interested user, we needed to find a way to send only those parts of the scanned paper that a user was actually interested in viewing. To solve this conundrum we turned to tiling, a solution often used to display online maps. With tiling, a large image is broken down into small tiles that are computed at several different zoom levels. When a user wishes to view the tiled image in a browser, only the tiles required to display the visible portion are downloaded. This approach dramatically reduces bandwidth requirements and has the further advantage of allowing users to zoom and drag the larger image.

As developing systems for the generation and display of tiled images from scratch would have been cost prohibitive, we are quite fortunate that there are a number of excellent open source libraries for just these purposes. For processing and tiling the scanned newspapers we relied on both GDAL andImageMagick. For the in-browser display of our tiled images we relied on theLeaflet mapping library. In addition to great software, we received much valuable guidance from the great people of both Geo NYC and CartoDB.

Images: Top - September 18, 1851 issue on current TimesMachine /  Bottom - July 20, 1969 issue on prototype.

FJP: The Times calls it a “work-in-progress” and welcomes suggestions at timesmachine@nytimes.com

So the next time you see a friend, or a child, spending too much of their day facing a screen, extend a hand and invite him back to the world of real social encounters. You’ll not only build up his health and empathic skills, but yours as well. Friends don’t let friends lose their capacity for humanity.

Barbara L. Fredrickson, professor of psychology at the University of North Carolina, The New York Times. Your Phone or Your Heart?

Via Slate:

Fredrickson poses a horrifying dilemma to the touch-screen generation: your phone or your heart. The more time we spend “bent over a digital screen, thumbing a connection to somewhere else,” Fredrickson argues, the more our biological ability to engage in “the world of real social encounters” withers away. In other words, with every <3 we type, we </3 a little inside.

Fredrickson came to this conclusion after conducting an experiment that tested how learning skills can affect a person’s capacity to connect with other humans. 

Via The New York Times:

Half the participants, chosen at random, attended a six-week workshop on an ancient mind-training practice known as metta, or “lovingkindness,” that teaches participants to develop more warmth and tenderness toward themselves and others.

Frederickson concluded that mediators felt more socially connected and that their vagal tone was “altered.”

(Vagal tone background info: Your brain and the vagus nerve are connected. The stronger your vagal tone, the stronger the connection between the vagus nerve and the brain — meaning your body can better regulate itself internally.)

Via Slate:

So people who engage in some new-age exercises enjoy some pretty trippy results. What does that have to do with your phone? Nothing, because Fredrickson didn’t enroll anyone in an iPhone-only lovingkindness regimen to compare vagal readings with the IRL set. She just assumes virtual communication is inherently less connected, friendly, and empathetic than the alternative. 

Even though Frederickson says technological communication is diminishing our capacity to “<3” each other in real life, she also notes that the human body and its behaviors are “far more plastic or amenable to change than most of us realize.”

If human potential is so plastic or amenable, then can we assume that our vagal tone could evolve to work with tech communication? According to Slate’s Amanda Hess, it already has.

Via Slate

The more we flex our thumbs, the more satisfying the emotional rewards. Just the other day, a wave of good feeling rolled through two brains and bodies at once as [my friend] Nathan and I traded jokes about op-ed writers with a scientifically unsupportable fetish for the IRL. If Fredrickson can’t see the human potential of the online friendship, maybe it’s because she hasn’t been looking hard enough. 

So, with such differing opinions and no real evidence that people become less or more empathetic with digital communication, whose side are we to take? Social media theorist, Nathan Jurgenson suggests: neither.

Via Society Pages:

I am proposing an alternative view that states that our reality is both technological and organic, both digital and physical, all at once. We are not crossing in and out of separate digital and physical realities, ala The Matrix, but instead live in one reality, one that is augmented by atoms and bits. And our selves are not separated across these two spheres as some dualistic “first” and “second” self, but is instead an augmented self. 

Healthy human communication can occur through digital communication AND face-to-face conversation. Yeah? Cool.

FJP: Some of my longest, deepest conversations have happened through a cell phone or an IM window. I’ve spent more than half of my 23 years communicating digitally rather than face to face. Oh my God — I knew I felt more apathetic and cyborg-ish than I did as a child. Now I know why. Now, step aside and allow me to destroy your humanity, one evil “LOL” at a time. — Krissy

Harvard Searches Faculty Email over Media Leaks

Last year, there was a cheating kerfuffle (outlined in The New York Times) at Harvard University regarding a take home test. Private information about the scandal leaked to the media, and the school took it upon themselves to peruse the emails of resident deans to see who blabbed.
Now, before you go stating the obvious about academic freedom and privacy rights, let the university attempt to quell your concerns:
VIa Harvard&#8217;s Website:







Consequently, with the approval of the Dean of FAS and the University General Counsel, and the support of the Dean of Harvard College, a very narrow, careful, and precise subject-line search was conducted by the University’s IT Department. It was limited to the Administrative accounts for the Resident Deans – in other words, the accounts through which their official university business is conducted, as distinct from their individual Harvard email accounts. The search did not involve a review of email content; it was limited to a search of the subject line of the email that had been inappropriately forwarded. To be clear: No one&#8217;s emails were opened and the contents of no one’s emails were searched by human or machine. The subject-line search turned up two emails with the queried phrase, both from one sender. Even then, the emails were not opened, nor were they forwarded or otherwise shared with anyone in IT, the administration, or the board. Only a partial log of the “metadata” - the name of the sender and the time the emails were sent – was returned.







The school only searched the subject lines of emails for queried phrases.
How are your concerns? Quelled? Now, consider this&#8230;
Via The Chronicle:







One of the deans was told of the search shortly after it occurred. The others were left unaware that administrators had searched their e-mail accounts until the Globe questioned Harvard officials about the incident late last week.







So, even if one were to accept Harvard &#8216;s subject-line-search as harmless, the fact remains that some deans weren&#8217;t even notified that this was happening. 
Via Associations Now: 






When dealing with a media leak, how can you be sure to keep in mind the privacy of your members and leaders so that if such a situation arises, it doesn’t have to reach this point?






Or should it ever be allowed to reach this point? 
Unfortunately, that’s where we are. Lewis Maltby, head of the National Workrights Institute, says people shouldn’t be surprised by employer snooping. “Almost every every major employer in America today reads employee email,” he told NPR in an interview about the Harvard snoop. “And if you haven’t been told by your boss that someone is reading your email, that’s just because they haven’t told you.”
Image: via The Harvard Gazette.

Harvard Searches Faculty Email over Media Leaks

Last year, there was a cheating kerfuffle (outlined in The New York Times) at Harvard University regarding a take home test. Private information about the scandal leaked to the media, and the school took it upon themselves to peruse the emails of resident deans to see who blabbed.

Now, before you go stating the obvious about academic freedom and privacy rights, let the university attempt to quell your concerns:

VIa Harvard’s Website:

Consequently, with the approval of the Dean of FAS and the University General Counsel, and the support of the Dean of Harvard College, a very narrow, careful, and precise subject-line search was conducted by the University’s IT Department. It was limited to the Administrative accounts for the Resident Deans – in other words, the accounts through which their official university business is conducted, as distinct from their individual Harvard email accounts. The search did not involve a review of email content; it was limited to a search of the subject line of the email that had been inappropriately forwarded. To be clear: No one’s emails were opened and the contents of no one’s emails were searched by human or machine. The subject-line search turned up two emails with the queried phrase, both from one sender. Even then, the emails were not opened, nor were they forwarded or otherwise shared with anyone in IT, the administration, or the board. Only a partial log of the “metadata” - the name of the sender and the time the emails were sent – was returned.

The school only searched the subject lines of emails for queried phrases.

How are your concerns? Quelled? Now, consider this…

Via The Chronicle:

One of the deans was told of the search shortly after it occurred. The others were left unaware that administrators had searched their e-mail accounts until the Globe questioned Harvard officials about the incident late last week.

So, even if one were to accept Harvard ‘s subject-line-search as harmless, the fact remains that some deans weren’t even notified that this was happening. 

Via Associations Now

When dealing with a media leak, how can you be sure to keep in mind the privacy of your members and leaders so that if such a situation arises, it doesn’t have to reach this point?

Or should it ever be allowed to reach this point? 

Unfortunately, that’s where we are. Lewis Maltby, head of the National Workrights Institute, says people shouldn’t be surprised by employer snooping. “Almost every every major employer in America today reads employee email,” he told NPR in an interview about the Harvard snoop. “And if you haven’t been told by your boss that someone is reading your email, that’s just because they haven’t told you.”

Image: via The Harvard Gazette.

The Times&#8217; Sports Page is Blank and Filled with Irony
In case you haven&#8217;t heard, there will be no inductees to the baseball hall of fame this year (the organization wants to distance itself from the steroid era players.) To reflect this, the New York Times&#8217; sports department published a largely empty cover today.
But it wasn&#8217;t completely empty. From a few feet away, a passerby might notice a single line at the bottom.
Sports Art Director Wayne Kamidoi told Poynter what it says:


Ultimately, some of the marquee names of The Steroids Era were rendered in agate-size type, a mere footnote in baseball history, at the bottom of the package.


FJP: Powerful.

The Times’ Sports Page is Blank and Filled with Irony

In case you haven’t heard, there will be no inductees to the baseball hall of fame this year (the organization wants to distance itself from the steroid era players.) To reflect this, the New York Times’ sports department published a largely empty cover today.

But it wasn’t completely empty. From a few feet away, a passerby might notice a single line at the bottom.

Sports Art Director Wayne Kamidoi told Poynter what it says:

Ultimately, some of the marquee names of The Steroids Era were rendered in agate-size type, a mere footnote in baseball history, at the bottom of the package.

FJP: Powerful.

What Twitter and The New York Times Have in Common (And Probably Wish They Didn’t)

What do the Gray Lady and the world’s preeminent microblogging social network have in common? While The Times has been making great strides to ‘get with it’ in the age digital media, the comparison is unflattering, and unfortunately very much on the mark. 


Neither company has a way to sustain itself financially.

Not only that, they don’t have any ideas. The difference between the Times and Twitter is that we’ve known that about the Times for a long time, and only suspected it about Twitter.

The most telling thing about the NYT’s digital subscription plans is that you can save money on all-access plan (web, phone app, iPad app) by getting a new home delivery subscription for the weekday or Sunday editions. Think about that. If you want to pay the New York Times to read the news using both their iPhone and iPad apps, in theory, you should be their ideal customer — you’re willing to pay, and you’re looking forward, technology-wise. But you’ll save money by getting several pounds of paper that you don’t want delivered to your doorstep every week.

h/t Alexia, via Daring Fireball

(Source: scripting.com)

If Demand Media Ran The New York Times

On the day of Demand Media’s $1.5 Billion Wall Street IPO, Danny Sullivan of Search Engine Land applies the content farm’s SEO-heavy editorial techniques to the front page of The New York Times.

One of the secrets to Demand Media’s success is paying close attention to what people are searching for and then writing articles to serve to order, especially articles it think will generate lots of ad revenue.

A real New York Times “Demand Media” edition probably wouldn’t have stories about Italy’s government or the Roman Catholic Church’s dispute with a Phoenix hospital. But the stories would probably be slanted toward answering questions, certainly. Indeed, the stories might largely be generated from what people are searching for, rather than what’s happening. Let the queries dictate what news to report!

Of course, that’s not a future I’d like to see. It’s something that gives many people chills, even if it’s already in practice in places like Yahoo News, which closely watches search traffic to determine what to write.

In reality, a smart news publication would be doing both news coverage and “answers coverage,” repurposing its existing content into the type of high quality answers that people are really seeking.

So, You Want to Be a Journalist?

There used to be (still is) an expression, “Say it with flowers.” In today’s world of social media, a more apt mantra might be say it with Xtra Normal. The site which launched in 2008 allows anyone who can type to make a movie with cute, monotone characters.

The beauty of Xtra Normal is that it turns very serious topics into parodies because the scripts are read without emotion in a mechanical, matter-of-fact way. Sensitive subjects become jokes, and videos are easily shared.

It was not clear at first how Xtra Normal would be able to make any money, but it seems that they have kept themselves afloat by selling virtual goods, and charging a premium for fancy backdrops for movies, as well as custom character animations.

Watch as an aspiring journalist must contend with the acid bath of a jaded professional reporter.

h/t: The Nocturnalist