Scripting News for 10/29/07

Steve Rubel lets one rip! 

He had some Wheaties this morning for sure.

My advice…

1. Remember to have fun.

2. We’re all bozos on this bus.

3. We’re all barking farting chihuahuas.

4. I make shitty software and so do you.

5. It’s even worse than it appears.

6. You never learn anything hanging with the same people.

7. Thank heaven for little girls. (A repeat of #6.)

8. It’s later than you think.

9. It’s not like anyone gets out of this alive. 🙂

It’s all about context 

A comment by Lane Becker on Scott Rosenberg’s blog…

“I’ve been using Winer’s nytimesriver on my iPhone screen for weeks now, and it’s far and away the best interface when you’re reading on a mobile device.”

“Which is the point: it’s all about context. It’s not either/or, and it’s not just different readers wanting different things. sometimes it’s the same reader wanting different things at different times, in different situations.”

Exactly right. I use nytimesriver on my iPhone or Blackberry, but I don’t use it on my desktop, where I prefer an interface with more controls. The small screen of a mobile device demands something simpler.

Slowly the word is getting out. I’d like to do it faster. It would be great if the TImes itself looked at this. If they can write about installation art in their lobby, why not tell their readers about a new way of reading Times news on a mobile device?

The Times was a leader in RSS too, but never reported on it. Perhaps there’s a blind spot.

And it’s also all about point of view 

Good software designers get out of their bodies and become users of software. Because ultimately you don’t design software to express yourself, you design it to be useful.

The point of news, as with software, is to be useful to the person using it.

Sorry, it’s not about employing editors. Scott Rosenberg, a writer and editor of news can be forgiven for seeing it from his own point of view, but we users of news don’t share that point of view. To me, as a software designer, it’s no surprise that there are lots of ways to view news. That there used to be one main way to do it is also not a surprise, there were technical limits, that aren’t there anymore.

The skill of laying out a paper presentation of the day’s news on a big sheet of paper is now an obsolete craft. The only reason we needed people to do that in the past was that was the only way to get written news to massive numbers of users of written news. Now that computer monitors are cheap, and we have little computers that can get us news that fits in our pocket, we can try out lots of ways of arranging it, and maybe we’ll even discover something new.

Newly rescued Morning Coffee Notes

3 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Jason Etheridge on October 29, 2007 at 12:29 pm

    Looking at Rosenberg’s post, I think he’s agreeing with you. His assertion is that there exists some percentage of the news-reading public who want their news cherry-picked/hand-ordered; they want the editors to have already sorted through the news wire for the articles that (subjectively) matter. Let’s call them “passive” consumers, versus active consumers who want to make their own decisions about what’s interesting/important. He goes on to say that this percentage of passive consumers may dwindle in the years to come (in fact, could already be in the minority), and may one day result in those editors being redundant.

    I’m also a programmer, and can likewise see that incoming news stories can be presented in any number of ways. I guess the only perceived value is in the editors’ judgement of the subjective quality or impact of a given story, versus its information content or subject.

    In other words, all stories are inherently equivalent, though may be about different things; however, some stories could be considered to be more interesting or important. People with limited time may feel more comfortable relying on a third party to do that subjective filtering for them, rather than having to swim in the river themselves.


  2. Posted by kp on October 29, 2007 at 2:07 pm

    I like the visual look and feel of a news website…versus lines and lines of news (aka. river). I use iPhone and go directly to news sites such as BBC, NYT, etc. to get my daily fix. I find river concept to be boring.


  3. > The Times was a leader in RSS too, but
    > never reported on it. Perhaps there’s a blind spot.

    Everything about computers makes newspaper people
    nervous on a deep perhaps-even-Jungian level. You see
    this at a macro level w/ your various plumbing projects
    and the Times. I see it at micro levels in my rural area
    w/ small-town newspapers and computer- web- projects.
    Is this technology friend or enemy ? Lover or killer ?
    They just don’t know …..

    RE rivers: yep, they work in many contexts for many people. May a thousand useful-in-contexts UIs bloom.

    — stan


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