Friday reading #28

 by Martin Belam, 9 November 2012

If it is Friday, then it must be time for my weekly round-up of long(-ish) reads from around the intertubes about UX, journalism, product development and all the other bits and pieces that interest me. As usual there is a Readlist version too. And it isn’t all about Nate Silver and the US election, honest.

Friday reading

Make something people want” — Tom Blomfield
“If you’re worried you’re not making something people want, the solution is almost always the same - focus on what you’re shipping in the next month. Don’t obsess over long-term strategy, or stick dogmatically to a ‘vision’. Launch sooner than makes you comfortable. Fake as much of the service or product as you can to save time. Talk to your users to make sure you’re solving a burning problem. Once you have 20 or 30 regular users, do everything in your power to absolutely delight them.”
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How media companies can think more like start-ups” — Mathew Ingram, GigaOm
“What I think you can do, however, is to think about who your user is and what they want, both when it comes to your traditional product (i.e. a newspaper or magazine) and your digital services or products. This isn’t something most media companies are particularly adept at, just as thinking like a startup and focusing on innovation is a struggle for many — in the past, media companies just pumped out content and more or less relied on captive audiences to subscribe to or consume that content, without thinking a lot about what they wanted from it or how they wanted to consume it.”
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Rob Grimshaw talks mobile and the FT's biggest challenge yet” — Arif Durrani, Brand Republic
“This is a really big deal. I think the switch to mobile is bigger in magnitude than the switch from print to desktop, in terms of what it means for the way people consume content, and it’s happening faster. So when faced with the prospect of moving every aspect of your business into a new channel in the space of a few years I would never be comfortable in saying that we are ready. But what I would say is that I think we are ahead of the marketplace. ”
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Responsive design: Opportunities and challenges for news sites ” — Rachel Mcthy,
“Digital experts from the Guardian,, the BBC and the Midland News Association share some key considerations for news outlets planning a responsive redesign”
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Save for later” — Brian Groudan, Mozilla UX
UX research into how people save, store and re-use bookmarks on the web carried out by Mozilla. [via @leemcivor]
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Inside the Secret World of the Data Crunchers Who Helped Obama Win” — Michael Scherer, Time
“That data-driven decision making played a huge role in creating a second term for the 44th President and will be one of the more closely studied elements of the 2012 cycle. It’s another sign that the role of the campaign pros in Washington who make decisions on hunches and experience is rapidly dwindling, being replaced by the work of quants and computer coders who can crack massive data sets for insight. As one official put it, the time of ‘guys sitting in a back room smoking cigars, saying “We always buy 60 Minutes”’ is over. In politics, the era of big data has arrived.”
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The US election was a wake up call for data illiterate journalists” — Paul Bradshaw, Online Journalism Blog
“That was – let’s not mince our words – an embarrassment to the profession. Journalists who professed to be political experts were shown to be well connected, well-informed perhaps, but – on the thing that ultimately decided the result: how people were planning to vote – not well educated.”
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Why Nate Silver Won, And Why It Matters” — Dan Lyons, ReadWriteWeb
“The age of voodoo is over. The era of talking about something as a ‘dark art‘ is done. In a world with big computers and big data, there are no dark arts. And thank God for that. One by one, computers and the people who know how to use them are knocking off these crazy notions about gut instinct and intuition that humans like to cling to. For far too long we've applied this kind of fuzzy thinking to everything, from silly stuff like sports to important stuff like medicine. ”
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The newsonomics of the newspaper industry as the Republican Party” — Ken Doctor, Nieman Journalism Lab
“The Scarborough data paints an unmistakable portrait: When it comes to audience, the American newspaper industry looks a lot like the Republican Party. Consequently, its business reversals parallel the deepening Republican national electoral woes. The newspaper audience looks remarkably like the arithmetic that put Mitt Romney on the losing end Tuesday and is forcing Republicans to self-assess how to move forward. The math is the math.”
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Where’s _why?” — Annie Lowrey, Slate
“Taking all of your code offline and erasing your whole persona without so much as a warning or helping people take over projects they spent years investing in is a dickhead thing to do.” Fascinating read about the disappearance of Ruby programmer _why, but also brilliant at incidentally explaining the experience of a non-coder learning to code.[via @paulcarvill]
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Flip All The Pronouns” — Mike Hoye
Dad hacks computer game to change all the character pronouns from ‘he’ to ‘she’ for his daughter. Instantly makes all other dads in the universe feel like a let down. [via @TheNatFantastic]
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Things you may have missed

The British Nate Silver” — Martin Belam, currybetdotnet
“His data analysis has played such a pivotal role in debate around the US election that it is inevitable that someone will get dubbed with that title in the run-up to the next General Election in the UK.”
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Optimising the FT using HTML5 and customer data - Stephen Pinches at #TAS12 ” — Martin Belam, currybetdotnet
“On Twitter I described Steve Pinches’ talk as a ‘masterclass in making good call after good call and really using user data.’ With typical modesty, he replied that hindsight is a wonderful thing. Nevertheless, as Group Product Manager for Mobile & Emerging Platforms at the Financial Times, Steve has steered the FT into the uncharted waters of breaking free from the iTunes store and going down the HTML5 web-app route.”
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A journey into the New York Times mobile and tablet strategy - Alexandra Hardiman at #TAS12” — Martin Belam, currybetdotnet
“She said that most people in the room could easily imagine a product development process where the requirements of the editor or of the advertiser were at the top of the pile — it is much harder for businesses to consistently put the needs of their users first.”
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