Tag Archive: internet
Cause for celebration: Time magazine has revamped the photo section of its website. It’s now called Lightbox and it’s a welcome change. Gone are the static HTML galleries that require scrolling to see the full image and caption; gone is the fake last image that was really a tease to the article; gone is the weird celebrity photoshoppery. Now there’s a full screen option, interviews, behind the scenes videos, clean design, and strong photojournalism brought to the forefront of Time’s visual coverage.
Eye tracking has emerged as an important part of measuring audience engagement and user experience on the internet. Devices record where a user’s eyes fall when looking at a website and the data from those experiments guide the future design of the website. Via bloggasm, I came across a look into how users view photos as web content. And while the data is not directly applicable to news websites or journalism, it does confirm what photographers already know: relevant photos of people increase user involvement with content. Interestingly, the findings also show that stock photos of generic people and situations get almost no attention from the user.
“Young journalists who once dreamed of trotting the globe in pursuit of a story are instead shackled to their computers, where they try to eke out a fresh thought or be first to report even the smallest nugget of news — anything that will impress Google algorithms and draw readers their way.” -The New York Times, “In a World of Online News, Burnout Starts Younger“
Newspaper and magazine websites have long been listing their most popular, most read, and most emailed stories in prominent places. Organizations such as Gawker, Bloomberg News, CNET, and others, have tied reporters’ pay, in part, to how many times readers click on their articles. This so-called Pay-Per-View journalism has been heralded as one of the possible saviours of journalism in the internet age, but it’s taking its toll. In a recent New York Times article, the Chicago Tribune’s managing editor was quoted, “You can’t really avoid the fact that page views are increasingly the coin of the realm.” By juking headlines to drive search traffic, guiding coverage toward what is most popular, and endless promotion and “branding” for both media companies and individual journalists (definitely read that link), newspapers and magazines are doing whatever they can to stay relevant and solvent. One side effect, though, is that journalists are burning out younger than ever before. The 24 hour push for clicks, shares, and tweets, is driving young reporters into the ground. “At a paper, your only real stress point is in the evening when you’re actually sitting there on deadline, trying to file,” Jim VandeHei, Politico’s executive editor, told the New York Times. “Now at any point in the day starting at 5 in the morning, there can be that same level of intensity and pressure to get something out.”
Sorry my invites to Google Wave got all used up. If I get any more, I’ll share. If you’re as confused as I am about what to do with it, and how it might be better than email or facebook or twitter or whatever internet tool you currently use, take a look at some of these ideas for how Google Wave might be used. People see the potential for improvements in everything from journalism to wedding planning to the creation of new vaccines. Maybe. Maybe not. Early reports are mixed on the technology. I’m still not sure what makes it better than email or facebook. And it won’t be really useful until more people are using it. But, maybe there’s potential. I know in the past I’ve frequently wanted to keep track of communication between a group of 5 or 6 people and have live chats. Maybe Google Wave is the solution I didn’t know I needed..
I love this. Artist Jon Rafman has mined the depths of Google’s Street View project and found some gems. Street View, of course, is Google’s effort beginning in 2007 to photograph the streets and storefronts of the world as part of its Google Maps direction finding service. Rafman’s project website has 3 pdf volumes comprising his Street View curation. Others have done this before, and at least one crime has been solved using Google Street View, but this is the first effort I’ve seen culling out (or attempting to cull out) interesting photography.
Silicon Alley Insider gathers data on some newspapers who have recently ceased their print publications and moved entirely online. While some, notably the Kentucky Post and the Seattle PI, have seen sharp increases in online viewership, the picture isn’t as rosy for most online-only newspapers. A few of the newspapers now boast monthly online readership about the size of our own here at dvafoto, which is both a bad sign for those newspapers and a nice sign for us. Most interesting, though, is an almost throw-away comment about the Kentucky Post:
A study by Princeton economists says that since the Posts closed, both the number of candidates for city council and local board posts, and the number of people who showed up to vote has dropped. The study also says that the incumbent politicians and board members now have higher chances of staying in office.”
In short, the printed newspaper is an important check on politicians. Not new news, I suppose, but now there’s data to back up the assertion.
Just found via a friend on Facebook, “Lens,” the New York Times’ new photojournalism blog. From the description, it’s intended as “A showcase for Times photographers, it also seeks to highlight the best work of other newspapers, magazines and news and picture agencies; in print, in books, in galleries, in museums and on the Web.” I’ve already subscribed to the rss feed.
Readability : An Arc90 Lab Experiment from Arc90 on Vimeo.
I have lived in a world without print media, and it is horrible. Until a couple of weeks ago, when I found a source for cheap issues of Newsweek International in Nanjing, my news diet has been entirely digital. Armed with Newsweek, and a shipment of magazines (Time, the Atlantic Monthly, Harper’s, New Yorker, among others) from a visiting friend made me realize again how much the switch to digital reading has affected news consumption. If my experience is any indication of the future of newspapers and magazines, I’m frightened for our collective sanity and eyes. Readability has saved my life, or at least, made reading online a lot less awful. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still bad, but the news has once again become…well…readable.
I’ve been reading the news online for most of the time that I’ve been aware of the news. In fact, I don’t think I really remember a time when I’ve read the news when most news wasn’t available online, generally for free. The change from print to digital has ruined my reading habits. First, without a ready supply of print media, I’m without the news over breakfast, in the subway or bus, waiting in a doctor’s office, in a park, during a lull between assignments, nodding off at bedtime…. A raggedy looking, folded up periodical has been a constant companion. Moving to China a couple years ago, though, all but eliminated print journalism from my life.
On the screen, I can’t concentrate on an article for more than a few minutes (a new email has come in, or maybe there’s just one more picture that needs to be toned…). Long form articles spread over multiple pages are annoying at best. More than that, I sit looking at a screen plenty already during the day, and would rather relax while reading than hunch staring at a bright monitor. The Kindle might solve this problem a little, but have you seen how awful the New York Times looks on a Kindle?
And let’s not forget about how completely unreadable most major media sites actually are. With ads, blurbs, top right and left navigation bars, and the like, it can be hard to find the content, especially when reading the local newspaper sites. While some sites provide a no-frills printable version of articles, not all media give the option. Enter Readability, a customizable bookmarklet that automatically eliminates page cruft and resizes the page to a custom width, type size, and typeface. I think I’m in love. Put the bookmarklet in your toolbar and click on it when you’re on an unreadable page. More often than not, you’ll get a perfect-sized column of easily readable text that is exactly the article you want to read and nothing more. Photography included in the article will be interspersed throughout the text, though captions sometimes end up looking like part of the next. It isn’t perfect, but it’s a far sight better than every newspaper and magazine website currently on the internet.
Another great option that I used to use is the Multi-Column Articles greasemonkey script (wikipedia explanation of greasemonkey), but I haven’t been impressed with greasemonkey support in Chrome, my new browser of choice. The usefulness of that script, which emulates a newspaper’s multi-column layout, is limited to a dozen or so websites, though most of the big news sites are covered.
Print media may be dying a slow death, but I’ve never known a time when magazines and newspapers ran huge edits of photography across multiple pages. Sure I’ve seen the odd spread or two, but those are outliers. My exposure to photography outside of the internet has generally been limited to edits of less than 5 images.
It’s hard to realize, but I think we’re in the middle of a golden age for visual culture. Never has more photography, of such high quality (and, of course, such low quality) been so readily available, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Newspapers and magazines are putting huge–often too huge–edits online, every photographer dead or alive has a portfolio website, blogs like this one or Conscientious or countless others sift through the cruft, and then there are the online magazines.
Visura does a lot right: pictures are big, but not too big; edits are long, but tight; diverse range of photographers and photography; great design (though flash and a page layout too wide for my screen are significant drawbacks). There seem to be a million of these online photography magazines popping up, and just as many have gone dormant over the past few years; hard to know which will survive, but it’s great to see a forest starting with so many saplings.
And speaking of the photographers above, be sure to check out “The True Meaning of Pictures: Shelby Lee Adams’ Appalachia”, a documentary exploring the controversy over the photographer’s pictures, Amy Stein’s fantastic series “Domesticated”, now a book, which in my mind is what the world looks like just before the birth of the world described in the Talking Heads’ “(Nothing but) Flowers” (lyrics):