News Foo session pitches

December 4th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

I’m here in Phoenix for the first-ever News Foo camp (what’s a Foo Camp?). I’ve pitched two sessions for this afternoon based on ideas I’ve been thinking about lately:

I’ve been meaning to write about these once the ideas are baked a little bit more, so stay tuned for more details.

Notes from Happy Cog event on web design process and practice

November 24th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

On the evening of Nov. 18, I attended An Army of One or a Nation of Millions? Web Design Process and Practice with Happy Cog, presented by the Art Directors Club of Metropolitan Washington and hosted at the building of my soon-to-be employer, The Washington Post.

Collaborative design process can be...

"Collaborative design process can be..."

(Disclosure: I attended as a guest of the Post; I am not — yet? — an ADCMW member.)

I’ve included my chronological livetweets from the #adcmwhappycog event (P.S. not my idea for a hashtag), plus some tweets with photos by @AnneLikesRedChris Cashdollar (@ccashdollar) and Kevin Hoffman (@kevinmhoffman) gave the presentation, which I will embed or link here after it’s posted online.

Read their great insights and comment below with your thoughts:

greglinch: #happycog is different from other shops bc everyone works on a project. Also, everyone works in more than just their speciality.

greglinch: The official hashtag for the @happycog event is #adcmwhappycog. They’ll be discussing their processes and more.

greglinch: .@happycog processes generally include: project definition, IA, viz design (design systems for ease in future), programming #adcmwhappycog

greglinch: Process values at @happycog: collaborative, iterative and flexible. #adcmwhappycog

AnneLikesRed: http://twitpic.com/380xjq #adcmwhappycog

greglinch: All of the things I’ve mentioned in the past few tweets is more of a framework then part of a rigid process. #adcmwhappycog

greglinch: For each project, @happycog asks: What is the design challenge at hand & what is the culture of the org they’re working with? #adcmwhappycog

greglinch: What the @happycog process could be like. RT @AnneLikesRed: http://twitpic.com/380xjq #adcmwhappycog

greglinch: .@happycog will sometimes disconnect and completely focus on the work — sometimes working on paper to start. #adcmwhappycog

greglinch: Sample sketches from Build-a-Bear project, which never launched but, bc of that, they learned a lot #adcmwhappycog http://yfrog.com/28jgmfj

greglinch: At wireframe stage, they focused on the upsell and the call to action — the two fundamental reqs. #adcmwhappycog http://yfrog.com/mn3wqj

greglinch: Another view of #adcmwhappycog event. RT @robleto: Happy Cog speaking at ADCMW @ Washington Post http://instagr.am/p/Srh1/

greglinch: “Fast results have a cost.” Also, they have no-meeting zones to focus on work — and those are disconnected from email, etc. #adcmwhappycog

greglinch: Where are all the #ONADC tweets, peeps? Share the love! Read about @happycog event with: #adcmwhappycog

greglinch: Project definition/IA when working with clients: Early, open discussion with focused meetings #adcmwhappycog

greglinch: Wireframes at @happycog focus on hierarchy + persistence, *not* visual design #adcmwhappycog

greglinch: When you’ve worked with a wireframe for weeks and need to scrap it, it can be hard to get out the thinking of that wireframe. #adcmwhappycog

greglinch: “Rules need to be understood to be broken” #adcmwhappycog

greglinch: At @happycog, they’re great at generating ideas — they need to improve at removing ideas. #adcmwhappycog

greglinch: Photo of @HappyCog commenting system that’s character-limited and can be tweeted. #adcmwhappycog http://yfrog.com/0le4ifj

greglinch: They put ideas on the @HappyCog blog that are incomplete so people can weigh in and build on them. #adcmwhappycog

greglinch: .@HappyCog is mostly waterfall, with only a bit of agile, for their process. #adcmwhappycog

greglinch: “Use deliverables for discussion” — @HappyCog. #adcmwhappycog

greglinch: Mental Models is a book about “aligning design with human behavior” they recommend http://j.mp/bPBZIK #adcmwhappycog

greglinch: Use “existing research and design team as guinea pigs” for project. For Philly tourism site, asked what they’d do on weekend. #adcmwhappycog

AnneLikesRed: http://twitpic.com/381br2 #adcmwhappycog

greglinch: “Balance classification with context” — make sure info is where it needs be, not just like indexes in a library card catalog #adcmwhappycog

greglinch: Roughy 80 people attending #adcmwhappycog event.

AnneLikesRed: So true! http://twitpic.com/381fal #adcmwhappycog

greglinch: “The actual dynamic of group decision making” — You need convergent and divergent thinking #adcmwhappycog http://yfrog.com/jau2rzj

greglinch: Book recs: Rework http://j.mp/c1PlYh and Facilitator’s Guide to Participatory Decision-Making http://j.mp/af7oqi #adcmwhappycog

greglinch: Core Values: full participation, mutual understanding, inclusive solutions, shared responsibility #adcmwhappycog http://yfrog.com/9fvddnj

greglinch: “Pathways to Action Model” — process design, vision space, problem space, solution space, make it real #adcmwhappycog

greglinch: Collaborative Design Process: creative concepts, client review, single concept iteration #adcmwhappycog http://yfrog.com/17izxqj

greglinch: Techniques they use w/ clients to learn more include a scale for balancing site’s feeling & MadLibs #adcmwhappycog http://yfrog.com/c95s9bj

greglinch: “Being dogmatic is for the birds” — find the unique process needs for each project. #adcmwhappycog

greglinch: During Q&A: “People who tell you CMSes are separate from design is lying to you” — it does impact design decisions #adcmwhappycog

greglinch: Quite a coincidence that an attendee mentioned Edward de Bono + his book — I just discovered him on Tues http://j.mp/bCF2Pe #adcmwhappycog

greglinch: .@happycog looks for models — such as from other industries — that can solve specific interaction problems. #adcmwhappycog

greglinch: And that’s a wrap! Hope you all enjoyed the #adcmwhappycog tweets. My fingers (and iPhone) get the rest of the night off.

Joining The Washington Post as a web producer

November 19th, 2010 § 25 comments § permalink

I’m excited to announce that, beginning Dec. 6, I will be joining The Washington Post as a web producer on the Universal News Desk.

I’m thrilled at the opportunity to work with Cory Haik (I’ll be reporting directly to her), the UND team and other awesome journalists throughout the newsroom. My focus will be on breaking news and working with the national desk to produce their health and environmental coverage, with engagement tied at the heart of everything.

My perspective as a journalist has evolved immensely since I graduated from the University of Miami in May 2009 (read my reflections on those four years) and last worked in a newsroom (Dallas Morning News internship in the summer of 2009). I’ve rethought my thinking and how we can better inform our work with computational thinking and programming concepts, began exploring innovation and ideas through different lenses, and — overall — continued expanding my mind (get a taste with my commonplace book). I look forward to bringing all that to the Post, along with the additional coding and technical skills I’ve taught myself in the past 18 months — and continue to learn (Python and Django next!).

Overall, I can’t wait to get back into the newsroom, collaborate with other areas I have experience or interest in (such as the programming, design, video, engagement and other teams) and do awesome work. I’ll be sure to let you all know more about the job after I start and see how the role evolves.

Why the job change?

Publish2 is moving to Los Angeles and, after a serious decision-making process, I decided for personal reasons that I wanted to stay in the D.C. area. Thus, we have amicably parted ways. The move is good news for Publish2 (stay tuned for more details on that soon), but L.A. is not for me at this time.

I want to emphasize that this was a personal decision to stay. Publish2 has been a unique and invaluable experience for me since I began in September 2009. My first full-time job out of college (see Publish2’s announcement), I learned many things about technology and business first-hand while working at a small start-up. My co-workers have been great and I’ve enjoyed working on tools that help journalists and news organizations.

Northern Virginia has been my physical home for the past year and the D.C. journalism-technology community has become my family here. From friends and acquaintances to meetups and conferences, deep down I know this is right place for me at this point in my life.

With that in mind, I’m also moving from Ashburn, Va. to Arlington, Va. (orange line on the metro, w00t!). No longer will I need to drive to the metro to get into D.C. I’ll leave it to you to imagine how many more meetups it will be possible for me to attend…

Books: Finished Cognitive Surplus by Clay Shirky, started Program or be Programmed by Douglas Rushkoff

November 17th, 2010 § 1 comment § permalink

Goodreads is a social network for readers that Lauren Rabaino introduced me to in June. One of the cool features they offer is a way to embed the review you write about a book, so I’ve added that below for Clay Shirky’s Cognitive Surplus, which is the first book I’ve tracked my progress with using Goodreads (and read in its entirety on the iPad):

Cognitive Surplus: Creativity and Generosity in a Connected AgeCognitive Surplus: Creativity and Generosity in a Connected Age by Clay Shirky

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The deft way Shirky connects and articulates different concepts (even when they’re mostly very familiar), plus the examples he deconstructs and conclusions he offers, make this a highly insightful read.

I really want to re-read Here Comes Everybody at some point soon.

—-

Adding to that review, I’d again emphasize: although the concepts Shirky discusses may not be new to you, the way he frames everything and connects ideas is wonderful. I would recommend that anyone working in journalism read this book.

For a taste of the book, read the Wired piece Cognitive Surplus: The Great Spare-Time Revolution and watch a related TED talk, How cognitive surplus will change the world:

The next book I’m reading is Program or be Programmed by Douglas Rushkoff, which I started last night. Follow my progress on Goodreads and join the conversation about the book on Rushkoff’s site.

For a taste of the book, read his Huffington Post piece and watch his SXSW 2010 speech:

Regarding Rushkoff’s premise, there are some interesting comments on this BoingBoing post.

I’m aiming to read Program or Be Programmed pretty quickly and then move on to Where Good Ideas Come From by Steven Johnson, which I’ve written about previously in the context of innovation.

What are some interesting books you’ve read lately? Please share in the comments!

STEM for kids, teens and me. And my sister.

August 9th, 2010 § 15 comments § permalink

Consider:

…programming should be used as a means to introduce kids to ways of thinking and problem solving that will be useful to them in many different spheres of human endeavor. If in the process they get hooked to computer science and end up in careers involving programming, that would not be a very shabby outcome, either!

Shuchi Grover said this in a post about Computational Thinking, Programming…and the Google App Inventor on SmartBean (read other highlights).

I sat down Sunday morning to read that piece (which I found through my handy Google alert for “computational thinking”) and it reminded me of something I’d almost completely forgotten about:

In summer 2000 — before eighth grade — I attended IMACS (no relation to Apple) for a few weeks. IMACS, short for the Institute for Mathematics and Computer Science, offered STEM-related activities in a day-camp format for different age groups.

My faint memories from IMACS include programming some rudimentary commands to control a robot, working with simple electronic circuitry to illuminate small light bulbs and completing various logic/reasoning questions.

So why did I, as 13-year-old who was mainly interested in writing, do this? Honestly, I don’t remember exactly beyond these two basic reasons:

  • My good friend Chris was going to attend
  • I’d had some technical inclinations since elementary school

You see, Chris and I had been aftercare aids at Country Isles. Yes, we sometimes clutched clipboards and walkie-talkies as we deposited toys in classrooms. But we also assisted with tech and AV — even Winterfest in 1997 (I will never forget what it’s like to be a 10-year-old running cables and duct-taping down wires for a school-wide singing show. Oh, and what ever happened to MiniDiscs?).

Earlier in elementary school when people would ask me, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I would say, “A scientist and inventor.” Surely, even a few years after such a notion, that too factored into my decision to attend IMACS.

My larger point in recapping all this history is that earlier interests, such as from childhood, can stick with us as we grow up and it’s never too late to start appreciating other areas.

Honestly, math was my least favorite subject in high school. I used to think journalists and math didn’t mix. I was young(er) and wrong. In the year or so since I graduated college, I wish I had done at least one stats class (in addition to psychology, but that’s for another post).

So why am I now fascinated by computational thinking and programming? My passion for journalism and how the fields relate, sure. But it’s also clear that my earlier interest and experiences, even one as limited as IMACS, play some role. (I also always have to credit Daniel Bachhuber specifically on the computational thinking front because he shared the first things I read/listened to on that topic.)

All of this is not to say you can’t develop a tech inclination later in life. You certainly can. What I am saying is how it’s helpful to evaluate what and who might have influenced you — and what comes of that.

Case in point, yesterday I talked my sister through setting up a blog on WordPress.com. I didn’t succeed earlier in the summer in getting her to host her own cooking blog, but in June she did buy her domain. What changed yesterday? I don’t know. We were just video IM chatting and it happened. Michelle, a rising college sophomore interested in finance and business (she digs math), is now set up to be a creatornot just a consumer.

Even if she never sets up her own hosted blog, never touches a line of code or never goes any further, it has — thus far — certainly been worth my brotherly nudging. And, to borrow from Grover, it wouldn’t be too shabby if she did.

What were some of your most noteworthy technical influences? Where did those influences lead?

Correction: The opening quote, originally attributed to Charles Profitt, has been updated to reflect the actual source — Shuchi Grover.

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