Megan Taylor

front-end dev, volunteacher, news & data junkie, bibliophile, Flyers fan, sci-fi geek and kitteh servant


SNDBoston: The Future is Now

with Nick Bilton and Michael Rogers from the New York Times R&D team.
R&D: Engineers look ahead (18 months to 5 years) for new technological advances. R&D is a state of mind and a commitment of resources.
“I always wear a tie because with a title like ‘futurist’ you need all the credibility you can get.”

How will content be delivered?
– Paper is hard to compete with as a display device.
– E-Ink: flexible, long battery life, no energy to display page, can hold 180 books, only black and white
– Polymer vision: about the size of a cell phone, updates wirelessly
– OLED: OLED screen is vibrant, great with color
– Google vision

The next audience: Millennials
Fears: a) no interest in news, b) no interest in paper
Were you seriously following the news at age 17? College students read campus news on paper: its still convenient.
Millennials have no habits that revolve around news. They have mobile phones!

Wireless everywhere!
– WIFI: laptops shipped with it
– 3G
– WIMAX: wifi on steroids, global standard

Laptops will get smaller, smartphones get better, until they merge. Times Reader: Windows-only right now. Navigate, resize, edit and annotate text, send annotations to others. Lays itself out to fit size of screen.

Print to Mobile
– Reefers
– Interact with paper via text messages
– 2d barcodes for cellphones to Web site
– communication between phone and TV, phone and computer

Devices are becoming more aware of our location and the content we seek. More and more data comes in automagically tagged with extra info (Geotagging).
How do we create new value out of existing content without expending human effort? (Algorithms, Google Earth!)

Virtual News Delivery: SecondLife


SNDBoston: Elections Roundtable

Coverng elections is a serious design challenge: fairness, impartiality, dense content, BORING?! Designers can make the content interesting and visually appealing.

Paul Nelson, The virginia Pilot

– Work with ad vertising to ensure enough space
– Handle news based on value and not on previous coverage
– Get opinions from community (reaction pieces on debates, etc.)
– Create ways to make the good stuff stand out (local connections to issues, adwatch – are candidates telling the truth in ads?)
– At-a-glance info
– Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert
– illustrations, graphics, multimedia, embed from YouTube etc.
_ reefers to Web site
_ prepare multiple fronts

Dan Wasserman, Boston Globe

– Cartoons for election campaigns: has to fill the same size rectangle 4-5 times a week.

Eilliott Malkin, information architect, New York Times interactive

– 2004 election coverage: infographic reefer, liva data from AP
– 2006 coverage: modular inforgraphics, came up with structure 6 months in advance: results page for each section
– 2007: blog caucus, full column infographics, live data, results by various categories
– 2008: homepage, politics section front, blogs, election guide (evergreen), topic pages via nyt navigation and google searches (SEO), timelines


SNDBoston: my tentative schedule

For my 21st birthday (which was a month and a half ago now) my mother promised to buy me a Blackberry Pearl as soon as I qualified for the T-Mobile discount, which would be sometime in October. Well, October is here. This means, that despite not having a laptop, and my MacBook Pro not being delivered in time, I should be able to blog my way through SNDBoston (Society of News Design conference).

So, this is my tentative plan:

On Thursday, I’ll be attending the Student Sessions, which promise advice but are a little vague on structure and content.


9:30 am You can judge a book by its cover
Described by USA Today as “the closest thing to a rock star in graphic design today,” Chip Kidd revolutionized book design. Kidd shows how to tell and sell stories using conceptual thinking, visual puns, and found images.

11 am Brainstorming workshop: design
Inspiring examples and practical tips for fresh approaches to design. Robert Newman (Fortune, Real Simple, Vibe, Entertainment Weekly) and Kate Elazegui (art director, New York magazine).

And at this point I’m conflicted. At 2pm, there are two fantastic looking sessions:

Roundtable: The elections
Print and online designers, graphics artists, and picture editors discuss fresh ways to cover the upcoming elections. Panel includes Elliott Malkin (, Paul Nelson (Design Director, The Virginian Pilot), and Dan Wasserman, editorial cartoonist for The Boston Globe.


It’s the little things
Recent innovations in presenting stock tables, sports agate, and other small information. The panel includes Dennis Brack (The Washington Post) and typographer Matthew Carter.

Input anyone? Onward, then.

3:15 pm Multimedia, the next frontier
The next place for great design and photojournalism is multimedia argues Brian Storm founder of MediaStorm and former head of multimedia for MSNBC.

Oh, poppycock, more conflicts:

Brainstorming workshop: graphics
Inspiring examples and practical tips for fresh approaches to infographics Archie Tse (New York Times) and Javier Zarracina (The Boston Globe).


Typography roundtable
A discussion on trends from readability to revivals with typographers Matthew Carter and David Berlow.

And Friday ends with

6 pm ‘Helvetica, The Movie’
It’s the 50th anniversary of the typeface you love—or love to hate. Director Gary Hustwit’s documentary has been drawing rave reviews on the film festival circuit. The Chicago Tribune enthused that the film “sharpens your eye in general and makes connections between form and content, and between art and life.”


9:30 am Reinventing The Guardian
Mark Porter, creative director of one the 2005 SND World’s Best-Designed newspapers on reinventing the print and online versions of one of Britain’s leading newspapers.

11 am The future is now
A look at new and emerging technologies from The New York Times R&D team. Interface designer Nick Bilton and futurist-in-residence Michael Rogers demonstrate the handheld Times Reader and discuss interactive newspaper technologies in development.

This conflicting sessions thing is really obnoxious. I need a time machine!

2 pm Reinventing page one
Long the most traditional page of the paper, panelists Jeff Hindenach (San Jose Mercury News), Gayle Grin (National Post, Canada) and Søren Nyeland (SND 2006 World’s Best-Designed Newspaper Politiken, Denmark) show how to build memorable fronts with photography, graphics, teasers and a strong design voice.


2pm Storytelling in print and multimedia
Jenn Crandall (’s onBeing) project and Kelli Sullivan (Los Angeles Times projects including the Pulitzer Prize-winning “Altered Oceans“) show how words and images can be combined to create compelling narratives.

At 3:15 I’ll be having my portfolio reviewed. I’m really nervous about this because this Web site is in dire need of a redesign (which I’m working on) and I can’t really print out a lot of my work.

The (for me) icing on all this newsy cake is a session at 4:45 with Adrian Holovaty.

Making data webby
Adrian Holovaty of shares philosophy and strategies for making data browsable online. He’ll touch on several of his past projects, including and Faces of the Fallen.

I’m working on a couple of database projects this semester and probably will be working with Django next semester, so I’m looking forward to satisfying my fetish for the geekier side of journalism.


Citizen Journalism: Iraq

The New York Times has a great article, Link by Link: Watching the War and Acknowledging the Dead about “ordinary” people who track military casualties in Iraq.

Daniel K. Ropkin
is looking for “looking for the best story, the one that really tells that person’s life, finding a picture,” with a depth that the Military Casualty Information page can’t match.

Michael S. White “allows a visitor to analyze the material in complex and highly specific ways: for instance, how many service members from New York State over 50 have died in hostile actions in Iraq? (One: Sgt. First Class Ramon A. Acevedoaponte, 51, of Watertown, killed when an improvised explosive device detonated near his Humvee in 2005.)”

Tom Willett includes a single news account for each United States service member killed in combat, with room for comments.

Q Madp created his site “two days before the war started, to make sure all these guys are recognized — I don’t want them to be trashed like they were in Vietnam.”

The New York Times also links from this article to their own coverage.

Each of these sites fills a different need; provides a different perspective. Take this to heart: if you’re not providing people with what they want, they’ll make it for themselves. No one has a monopoly on information or publication anymore.


New feature on NYT Web site?

My co-workers at the Help Desk like to get their news online. We were talking about an article on the New York Times Web site, when someone highlighted a paragraph and inadvertently double-clicked.

Apparently, when you double-click on a word in an article, it opens a pop-up window with the definition of the word.

A neat feature, no doubt, but it isn’t made obvious that this will happen. A lot of people highlight as they read to keep track of where they are, and clicking inadvertently could be confusing and irritating.

So, please NYT, give me the option of turning that nonsense off.

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Newspaper Summaries

Philadelphia papers offer summaries for really busy readers – New York Times
The idea for Inquirer Express and Daily News at a Glance came from former readers who had said they canceled their subscriptions “because I feel guilty that I never get to read the whole paper,” says a spokesman for the papers. “This is an attempt to say, ‘If you can’t get to the whole paper, that’s okay, here’s a summary.'”

I need this.

My Editing class requires that we read the New York Times and The Gainesville Sun every day. Each week, we are quizzed on current events. Unfortunately, since all my news comes through RSS and I have over 200 feeds a day, the information doesn’t always stick.


Interactive maps and user generated content

The New York Times is accepting user generated videos for their Wedding and Celebrations section, using Brightcove.
Couples whose announcements have been chosen to appear in the paper can create a 3 minute “How We Met” video which will appear at So far, I don’t see anything up there aside from professionally shot “Vows” videos which appear on the same site. has a super duper interactive map with animation, satellite, radar and cloud views. It’s currently in beta and takes a few seconds to figure out, and it’s powered by Microsoft Virtual Earth instead of Google. I think this is the first serious map I’ve seen that didn’t have Google in the left-hand corner.


NYT Iraq casualties infographic

nyt iraq casualties infographic

I really like this infographic by the New York Times on the Iraq casualties. Too bad even my 19″ monitor at 1280 x 1024 can’t accommodate it. And why is the legend at the bottom? A quick search leads me to believe that this was published as part of a TimesSelect article, though I can’t be sure because the graphics are not archived with the articles. (??!!) If this was web-only, why is it in black and white instead of color? Color could have prevented some of those unfortunate icon choices. (A civilian is a woman holding a baby? The difference between armed forces is the direction of the gun?) This is not a “quick glance, now I get it” kinda thing. But it could have been.


A few more things about RSS: Week in Review, Google Reader

Last week’s New York Times “Week in Review” feed was unimpressive, but not disappointing. It included some select articles from throughout the week, plus corrections to previous articles.

901am lists some great advice to Google on how to improve their reader. From the 5 recommended features, my favorite is same story consolidation. I can absorb so much more if related items are grouped together. Go check out the list and let me know what your favorite feature would be.

In contrast to RSS faves, here is my pet peeve: summary/excerpt feeds. Whether you forgot to check the “full feed” box or are stuck on page views, I really, really hate having to click through to the Web site to finish reading. Argh.