Friday reading #26

Martin Belam by Martin Belam, 26 October 2012

Got that Friday feeling? If so, get ready to put your feet up for the weekend with my regular round-up of the links and essays I’ve found interesting around the web this week talking about UX, design, journalism, product development, and — for one week only — the demise of CEEFAX. You can download the whole lot with the minimum of fuss by heading over to the Readlist version, which should work with whichever ebook reader you prefer.

Friday reading

Clay Christensen, newspapers and the cliff of despair”— Mathew Ingram, GigaOm
“While the introduction of paywalls may be helping to delay the disruption, and prop up what remains of the traditional newspaper ad-revenue business, they don’t feel like a long-term solution to the challenge that Christensen is talking about, which is to develop a sustainable online business that solves a real problem for readers. Are readers suffering from a lack of paywalled content for which they can submit their credit cards? Probably not.”
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Getting the news” — Sonia Saraiya interviewing Danah Boyd, news.me
“General news is not relevant to young people because they don’t have context. It’s a lot of abstract storytelling and arguing among adults that makes no sense. So most young people end up consuming celebrity news. To top it off, news agencies, for obvious reasons, are trying to limit access to their content by making you pay for it. Well, guess what: Young people aren’t going out of their way to try to find this news, so you put up one little wall, and poof, done.”[via @starrjulie]
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How the Huffington Post handles 70+ million comments a year” — Jeff Sonderman interviews Justin Isaf, Poynter
Newspaper website comments have been the subject of much debate this week. This is a look at how HuffPo handles it all: “For us, the solution has been to work really hard to keep the community safe and enjoyable by investing significant time and energy into pre-moderation to keep those bad actors out… Our belief boils down to a very simple ‘if you are intentionally or consistently making this a less enjoyable place to be, you and your comments may be removed from it.’”[via @hrwaldram]
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Case Study: Responsive Design for Time.com”— Corporate case study, .appendTo()
“The ads had the most restrictions and required the highest level of functionality on the side redesign. The ads themselves would remain at fixed sizes, but the page would need to load the correct ad for the device type (mobile, tablet, desktop) as well as one that fit in the available size. When orientation changes occur (users rotate their mobile devices or tablet)s or the browser window width changed, some of the ads that fit previously would no longer fit on the page without breaking the layout.”[via @paulcarvill]
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Facebook: I want my friends back” — Richard Metzger, Dangerous Minds
Useful reading about the way that Facebook has changed the reach of posts amongst users, but worth reading with this thought in mind: ‘If you build your business on the back of another company’s business with which you have no contractual agreement, you haven’t built a sustainable business.’ [via @Martin_Carr]
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Getting it Right: Gov.uk”— David Eaves, Tech President
“The problem is, Singapore and Canada, or the United States, or the UK for that matter, are not competitors when delivering online experiences to their citizens. Canadians don't compare the (terrible) online experience they get with the government to that of Singapore, or Sweden. Rather they compare their experience to Facebook, to HipMunk, to Gmail and Flickr. All the Accenture report did was take a group of laggards who generally deliver a crappy online experience, lump them together and rank them. Rather than tell governments their online performance was in crisis, it reassured them that all was well.” Governments are not the only vertical that insists on only benchmarking a narrow competitor set online. ABCe figures don’t include MSN or BBC News for example.[via @jaggeree]
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Why prototyping beats wireframing.”— Leisa Reichelt, The pastry box project
“If you’re on a project where you feel like you have to wireframe extensively, there’s probably a better way to be doing that project.”
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Casino software development” — Simon Baker, energizr
“A feature specification or description is a solution hypothesis. When we build a feature and delay validating it with customers we’re making a bet that it’s ‘right’. What if we’re wrong? Building feature upon feature this way ups the ante until we find ourselves betting the budget on a big-bang release. When we do this we’re not only creating more inventory, we’re investing deeper and deeper, taking on more risk, and essentially making a bigger and bigger bet.”
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Why we want to build Charles Babbage’s Victorian computer ”— John Graham-Cumming, The Guardian
“There was no Victorian computer age. That happened in part because Babbage failed to persuade the UK government to keep backing his project, as he created exasperation by constantly changing his designs and goals. Babbage was both computer pioneer and failed government IT project pioneer. Cost overruns and changing plans seem to have been a problem right from the start of computing history.”
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Ceefax: The early days”— Mort Smith, BBC News magazine
“Ceefax journalists would monitor incoming wire copy...and when a story was to be updated they would type at one of two production terminals and create a Ceefax page. Then they had to produce a punched tape— approximately a metre long— and take it down two flights of stairs to the Central Apparatus Room (CAR), load it into a tape reader and watch as it was read into an anonymous metal box. ”
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Farewell to Ceefax— it was nice working with you”— William Gallagher, Radio Times
“A typical page had 80 words on it. In 80 words you had to get across an entire news story plus headline and headers. If Ceefax has a legacy, it is that its writers are very, very good on Twitter: the 140 character limit is a doddle.”[via @DurraniMix]
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Things you may have missed

I published four posts about the talks that I saw at UX People last week, but it is probably easiest to pick them up as an ebook I’ve produced for iBooks, for Kindle or as a PDF. It is free.

I also wrote quite a lot of other stuff this week...

I always wanted bbc.co.uk to use CEEFAX page numbers” — Martin Belam, currybetdotnet
“With the ultimate demise of CEEFAX due this week, I’m reminded that I was once a passionate advocate that BBC URLs should have a re-direct mapping from CEEFAX page numbers.”
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How do British newspapers compare to Newsweek’s catastrophic 51% circulation collapse? ” — Martin Belam, currybetdotnet
“I eagerly awaited an article comparing that catastrophic loss of print sales with figures for newspapers in the UK. But I didn’t spot one if anyone did it, so I put my datajournalism hard-hat on and crunched the numbers myself.”
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London IA announcement” — Martin Belam, currybetdotnet
“If you follow the London IA twitter account, have recently visitedthe website, or are a fan of the Facebook page, you’ll have seen this message”
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Guardian responsive redesign beta gets web fonts” — Martin Belam, currybetdotnet
“This week some of my ex-colleagues at the Guardian unveiled the latest update to their public beta of a responsive redesign - using a version of Guardian Egyptian that has been hinted for the web.”
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Forthcoming talks and events

I’ll be talking and teaching at the following events over the next couple of months:

Keep up to date on my new blog