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Features as Apps, Apps as Services

July 15, 2011 at 12:49 p.m.

The CMS is a dying concept. Erik Hinton at TPM gets us started on thinking beyond One System To Rule Them All:

Instead of revolving around a monolithic central piece of software, we have adopted the paradigm of feature-as-app. Our frontpage: an app. Our slideshow: a different app. Article publishing: yet another app. You get the picture. At the heart is a simple and flexible API that digests manifold requests from the different applications. For example, Moveable Type is great at publishing entries and updating its database accordingly. Our new system will simply wrap the MT database in a cached ...

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Using TableFu to Crack Those Tables

January 21, 2011 at 2:33 p.m.

Note: in lieu of other excuses: I have a carnival of journalism post coming soon. Consider this an unrelated holdover to remind you that I do, in fact, still occasionally use this blog.

For a while now, I've been toying with a side project called TableFu. If you follow me on Twitter or Github, you've probably seen it. It might already be in your toolkit (if, for example, you needed to organize a bunch of Youtube videos of Christmas carols).

The project started as a Python port of ProPublica's project of the same name, which is written ...

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Distractions

January 10, 2011 at 10:11 a.m.

This caught my eye just as I took a peak down the rabbit hole of CouchApps:

The phenomenon of yak shaving, broadly conceived, is exactly why freelancing as a coder is a mixed blessing. You can never take the scenic route, never keep chewing on a problem merely because it rouses your craftman’s instinct. Every detour is a delay for your client, and a context switch for you. But we need detours, we need to stumble in order to learn. Mucking about is the stuff from which best practices are made.

Getting distracted and turning your attention to trifles ...

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In the Thick of It with #TSATime

December 1, 2010 at 12:08 p.m.

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Lessons from Covering the Gulf Oil Leak

July 7, 2010 at 2:56 p.m.

Cross posted at MediaShift

The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has lasted more than two months now. It is the worst spill in US history, and it is likely to continue until at least August. And in covering it, the NewsHour has broken every traffic record it ever had.

So, what have we learned here?

(Quick note: A lot of the thinking behind this post comes from a debriefing at work with my colleagues Vanessa Dennis, Travis Daub and Katie Kleinman, and from conversations about the spill and our coverage with other people in and out of the ...

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Oil in the Gulf

May 24, 2010 at 11:12 a.m.

By now, I'm pretty sure anyone who reads this blog has seen the widget the PBS NewsHour launched a few weeks ago. Those ticking numbers have been embedded on dozens of websites, bringing thousands of new visitors our site.

So it's probably worth mentioning up front that at first, I thought building this thing was a bad idea. I thought it was gimmicky, and that it assigned specificity where there was none. I argued that any number we pick as the rate of spillage was almost guaranteed to be wrong, since the government, BP and outside experts were ...

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Dual tracking

April 8, 2010 at 4:13 p.m.

Columbia University will soon offer a new dual masters degree in journalism and engineering, with the goal of cranking out more programmer-journalists, Wired reported yesterday.

This is good. It builds on the success of Medill's Knight-funded experiment offering scholarships to software developers to learn journalism. That's to be lauded.

But... (you knew there was a "but" coming)

Those getting dual degrees shouldn't be the only journalists hanging out with computer scientists. The problem isn't just a lack of reporters who can code, but a shortage of people in the newsroom who know what's possible.

I ...

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We Are What We've Built

March 21, 2010 at 2:59 p.m.

The Atlantic seems to be settling into its new site, despite a rocky relaunch. James Fallows is blogging again, and Andrew Sullivan and Jeffrey Goldberg are back to disagreeing over Israel and Palestine, instead of the nuances of web design and information architecture. As far as I can tell from the limited vantage point of my feed reader, things are getting back to normal.

But the brief turbulence that followed the relaunch of the rebuilt and redesigned site was interesting in the ways it failed. By most accounts, it did what it was meant to do: the diverse group of ...

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Journalism to Django, Part Two: Required Reading

February 7, 2010 at 12:34 a.m.

So, you've gotten the hang of HTML and CSS. You can install Wordpress in five minutes, and you're comfortable mucking with templates. Or you get databases and it's time to get them on a web. Or you read my last post and feel ready for the next step.

Starting Points

At this point, take a look at the Django Book.

You can learn Django and Python at the same time (I did, as have others). But it is worth getting the hang of Python a bit first. Take some time and go through Think Python. It's ...

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Why Django

January 12, 2010 at 10:37 p.m.

As of this month, I'll have been using Django for two years, and using it professionally for a year. That's a strange thing to think about, because I still have a hard time calling myself a "programmer" (though "web developer" feels easier, for some reason). I am, after all, a politics major with zero formal training in computer science. Yet here we are.

Over the past few months, friends have started asking me about my favorite framework: How'd I get started? Is it as good as the hype? Can I, or should I, learn it?

Well...

Why ...

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Building a Better Ecosystem for Transparency

December 9, 2009 at 10:23 p.m.

Transparency is an ecosystem. Each part--government, journalists, activists--interact to create an environment where information flows, or doesn't. It's up to each part to ensure the continued growth of a healthy transparency ecosystem.

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New tools for new news

December 30, 2008 at 3:28 a.m.

Journalists need new tools to work online. In the last year, I've used more that I can count, most of them free, to find and tell better stories on the Web.

Back in October, I started building an online database of such tools as a personal project, just a way to keep track of everything I was using. It has since grown into something I think others will find useful, so I'm releasing it into the wild.

Tools for News

The site is in public beta for now. Eventually, I hope to move it to its own domain ...

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