The next 11 days

A bit of travel coming up over the next 11 days:

  • Today I’m flying to NYC to meet a few new members of the Fusion team in person. Tomorrow we have a hack day on the theme of personalization.
  • Friday evening I’m taking the train to Philly for Saturday’s BCNI. I fly back to Portland Saturday evening.
  • Home on Sunday.
  • On Monday, I’m headed to Napa via SF for the VIP workshop. I’m bringing my running shoes.
  • Thursday, I fly to Las Vegas for Loopconf, where I’ll be until Saturday morning.

If our paths intersect, say hello!

On the gear front, I recently picked up a Patagonia Refugio 28L backpack. It passed the test with flying colors on an overnight to SF. One pocket for my laptop, another for clothing, and a third for cables, etc. I can’t underscore how exceedingly awesome it is. Clothing volume-wise, I think it’s going to max out at three night trips unless I pack my reusable undies.


Off to Philly today for SRCCON, a gathering of some of the nerds who make the technology behind the news. I am so excited! For years, CMSes, publishing workflows, and the unsexy but very mission critical technologies have been my passion. Yet most of the conferences, online discussion, etc. have skirted around the topic, in part because legacy organizational structure hasn’t let the hackers get to work.

Funny how things go if you stick at it long enough. Washington Post and Vox have made great leaps forward, and convinced executives everywhere that change is possible. Hell, even The New Yorker relaunched on WordPress two days ago. NBD.

Back to Portland Saturday night, off to Sunriver Sunday through Wednesday, and then to New York for WCNYC Thursday through the following Wednesday. REST API retooling here we come!

BCNI Philly: Advanced WordPress development

Andrew Nacin and Marc Lavallee led a 2 pm session on advanced WordPress development. It was mostly a free-form conversation about the use of WordPress in newsrooms. Continue reading BCNI Philly: Advanced WordPress development

BCNI Philly: Creating thriving communities where your readers are happy

Andrew Spittle and Andrew Nacin led a 1 pm session on lessons to be learned from developing software. Both worked on their college newspapers. Spittle now works for, a service offered by Automattic, and Nacin works on, an open-source software project. Two different types of communities involved: centralized and decentralized. Continue reading BCNI Philly: Creating thriving communities where your readers are happy


Window seat on Amtrak 651 Keystone Service to Philadelphia for my third BarCamp NewsInnovation Philly tomorrow. Stoked to hang out with Andrew, Andrew, Marc, Sean, Greg, and everyone else. Michelle arrives tomorrow night after her Yelp event. We’re staying at the Penn View Hotel, and then will enjoy a tourist day on Sunday.

BCNI Philly: APM’s Public Insight Network

Drew Geraets led a session this morning on American Public Media’s Public Insight Network, an initiative and tool to bring their audience deeper into the reporting process. Funded by the Knight Foundation, they’re currently doing a complete rebuild of their CRM for journalism to produce a fully open source project and expand usage beyond the 12 existing media partners.

Specifically, by doing the rebuild, they want to: share more insights, offer better tools for sharing, enable sources to update their profile within the system, offer sources more granular privacy controls, instantly publish insights, create credibility systems for sources, offer a better user experience, and integrate with existing sites.

The prototype dashboard for the reporter-facing Audience Insight Repository is project-based and focused on collaboration.

Journalists can search through a huge database of sources based on demographic metadata.

Once they’ve found a worthwhile lead, the journalist can click through and get contact information, background on the source, and a record of prior interactions.

The project also has plans for a user-facing site tentatively called MyPIN where they’d be able to engage more fully with the news organization’s reporting process or update their profile information.

There’s a certain amount of friction, however, in requiring sources to manually update their profiles every time a bit of their personal data changes. As the system exists now, American Public Media requires readers to submit full contact information every time they fill out a form. If the contact information on the form is different than what is in the database, then that discrepancy is flagged and an analyst has to manually address that conflict. In the future, in addition to enabling users to update their profiles on their own, it might also be worthwhile to explore integrating with LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter. With LinkedIn or Facebook, the user could update their resume, contact information, etc. and have it automatically pulled into the Public Insight Network. By integrating Twitter, for example, journalists could easily find sources for a given story by having search localized to updates from users within the network.

We also discussed user privacy, which getting correct is of significant interest to American Public Media. More importantly, what control users have over their privacy and how to make policy changes without surprising or alienating them. An idea I suggested is that, rather than presenting just a list of options for the user to choose from, they should instead try a Hunch-style approach. With this, they’d be presented a series of questions detailing scenarios about their data and how it might be used. The decisions the user made responding to each scenario could then guide their privacy options. At some point, American Public Media would like to start sharing source information amongst all of their media partners using the software, but it will be critical for them to execute that move right the first time.

Sesh ideas for BCNI Philly

Tomorrow morning will find me headed to Philadelphia for Saturday’s BarCamp NewsInnovation Philly. Needless to say, I’m super stoked for this opportunity. Not only will I be able to finally meet my boss, my new colleagues, and the rest of the CoPress team I haven’t met, but I’ll get to spend an entire day, and probably much of the weekend, discussing the future of journalism with some of the smartest news folk in the country. If my flight doesn’t get laid over in Atlanta, I’d like to spend my time taking about at least a couple of different things:

Designing a News Startup From Scratch in 60 Minutes

The goal would be to rapidly prototype what a news organization of the future might look like by walking the hypothetical startup from concept to a year after launch and covering things such as:

Continue reading Sesh ideas for BCNI Philly

Planes, trains, and the Bolt Bus

Just as soon as I finish my oatmeal, I’m off for an epic trek across these United States for the first ever CoPress meetup in Philly. We’ll be talking student newspapers, strategy, the internet, and our favorite type of pie at this time of year. If you’re around town, you’re more than welcome to join us for a fun lunch party on Wednesday.