Megan Taylor

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

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New Washington Post Blog on Economic and Domestic Policy

The Washington Post launched a new blog yesterday, written by Ezra Klein.

That’s how the e-mail I got introduced it too. “a blog by Ezra Klein.” Pardon me, but who the @#$% is Ezra Klein?

Klein comes to The Post from The American Prospect, where he quickly built a dedicated following and became a widely recognized voice.

OK, nice credentials, but I still have no idea who this guy is.

Apparently he is going to write pretty extensively on “legislative issues at the top of the Obama administration’s agenda, including economic recovery, reviving the banking system, cap and trade, and health-care reform.”

Important stuff. Why didn’t you lead with that, instead of expecting me to recognize a by-line?

The blog itself is off to a pretty good start, even if Washington Post PR isn’t.

  • A section called “Think Tank” will be updated with articles, studies, and policy briefs.
  • Ezra Klein is on Twitter.
  • His blogroll links outside of Washington Post blogs.

No word on how much he’ll interact with his readers, so I’ll withhold judgment on that point.

Oops, Ezra didn’t write his own About page:

ezraklein

Beatblogging.org has what Ezra needs to know to make his blog rock: Creating the perfect beatblog.

More about Ezra Klein:

Political Blogger Ezra Klein Joins The Washington Post (readwriteweb.com)

Ezra Klein to WaPo (outsidethebeltway.com)

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Obamania

I’m confused. I feel out of the loop.

I get that Obama is the first black president.

I get that he represents a new era in our history.

I get that he represents changes that a lot of people want to see.

I get that his use of social media and technology during his campaign implies some very cool things during his presidency.

But why is everyone going apes**t!?

Why do I keep seeing articles about what the Obamas ate for lunch, or the kids’ first day at school or his physical appeal?

Why did a whole bunch of people stand around in the freezing cold to listen to other people talk, and musicians with numb hands try to play?

Why are there iPhone applications devoted to this man and his inauguration?

I remember Bush’s inauguration as a bad day, because my family disagrees with his beliefs and policies. I don’t remember Clinton’s. And before that, I wasn’t paying attention to anything other than my skinned knees.

But I’ve asked around, and no other inauguration has been compared to Woodstock.

I really don’t get it. Do you?

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Davos Debates on YouTube

For me, the great thing about YouTube isn’t finding new music, disturbing advertisements, or hilarious miscellany.

The great thing about YouTube is how it creates avenues for discourse.

Davos Debates on YouTube

For the second time, YouTube is hosting the Davos Debates – but this year, whoever uploads the best video response to one of the session questions gets a free ride to Switzerland.

YouTube has partnered with the World Economic Forum to open up debates from this year’s Davos annual meeting. We’re inviting people to record a video answering one of four session questions, and whoever uploads the most original, creative and popular video will win a reporter’s pass and fully-paid trip to Davos at the end of January. Along with that, the best videos received will be played in the relevant sessions to Davos attendees.

Go to http://youtube.com/davos and check out the submissions. Submit your own response. Whether you win or your video is chosen for viewing at Davos doesn’t matter. Getting involved in the discussion does.

The questions:

  • Are you confident that global growth will be restored in 2009?
  • Should company executives have a code of ethics similar to doctors and lawyers?
  • Will the environment lose out to the economy in 2009?
  • Will the Obama administration improve the state of the world in 2009?

What do you think?

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Vote for the change you want to see

The Ideas for Change in America competition is winding down, with today being the last day for voting.

The top 10 ideas will be presented to the Obama administration on Friday.

You can vote for 10 ideas

From the site:

The Ideas for Change in America competition was created in response to Barack Obama’s call for increased citizen involvement in government. The final round of voting began on January 5 and is comprised of the top 3 rated ideas from each of the 30 issues in the first round of the competition, which collectively received more than 250,000 votes.

The top 10 rated ideas from the final round will be presented to the Obama administration on January 16th at an event at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, co-hosted by the Case Foundation. At the event we will also announce the launch of a national advocacy campaign behind each idea in collaboration with our nonprofit partners to turn each idea into actual policy.

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The Bush-Cheney Legacy

A few days ago the Washington Post put together a section looking back on George W. Bush’s presidency.

It’s a bit soon, but given the zeitgeist, totally understandable. Hopefully as time goes by we’ll get more analysis of what the effects of the past 8 years really are.

The section puts me in mind of Jeff Jarvis’ “Topic Theory.” Whether we can call topics the “building block of journalism,” topic pages are an important way for users to keep track of a paper’s coverage, catch up on unfamiliar stories and gather context on an issue.

The Post’s Legacy page includes “video interviews with Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporters Bob Woodward and Barton Gellman, a timetable of significant news events and policy decisions, and opportunities for users to submit their own views.” (from the press release I forgot I had received) There are also graphs, articles, and photo galleries.

I have a complaint, though: clutter. There is so much stuffed into this one page, with no clear hierarchy. It’s just a bunch of stuff on a page, when it could have been designed to lead a reader through the events of the presidency.

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Washington Post: TimeSpace

Awhile ago I realized that somehow I ended up on the Washington Post’s press release e-mail list. I’m not complaining, it’s a good way for me to find out about what they’re doing.

Today, the World section launched an app has has been around for a bit (I think they had a elections version) in beta. It’s called TimeSpace: World.

It’s pretty freakin’ cool, although sadly loading page page also loads a ginormous ad above the application. This is not quite what people mean when they talk about making web apps pay.

From the e-mail I got:

Using innovative technology, TimeSpace: World compiles all world news content from The Washington Post, washingtonpost.com, PostGlobal, Foreign Policy magazine, and partner sites including The Associated Press and Reuters onto one, customizable map.

Here’s how it works: coverage is collected into clusters around hot-spots on an interactive map. By clicking a cluster, users can view articles, blog posts, photos, videos, and even reporter twitter feeds (without leaving the page). A timeline below the map illustrates peaks in coverage and allows users to customize news searches to a specific day or hour.

They also made a widget for the app, and individual items have unique URLs for easy sharing. The content includes articles, blogs, photos and video.

I really like the idea, though unless you’re looking for something specific, it can get overwhelming to look at. The map is designed really well, with a neat sliding timeline function that also shows how much content there is for a specific time. Looks like there are some tracking possibilities here.

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Election Emotions

I don’t remember people’s reactions when Clinton was elected. I remember being angry, in a trendy “Everyone hates on Bush” way, after the election in 2000. In 2004, I almost left the country. But in none of those elections did I understand, as I only begin to now, the chain of events that starts with this one crazy night. I wanted to try to document the range of emotions I’ve seen people around me go through as the election ended and in the past day or so.

The day of the election, while I was bouncing off the walls with excitement and anxiety, people at the office seemed really calm. Someone even said to me, “I wonder who will win, but really, it’s not like it can get any worse.”

When it was all over, I could hear people outside my apartment screaming, honking, and generally celebrating. Even though you could see the same happening on the TV, it was cool to know that people around me were so emotionally involved in this election.

Yesterday a friend told me that when he looks at the people around him, they seem happier. They have hope.

This morning I got into a conversation on the train with a middle-aged black woman. She spoke about how she never thought she would see a black President of the United States. About what this means for everyone, “but especially for minority kids.” She was practically glowing as she spoke of a friend who is 106 years old, and has lived through so much radical change.

I often hear people complain about how hard emotions are to read off a computer screen. I find it rather easy. Everything I read seems to be charged with the energy of change. Whether its because he’s black, a Democrat, Internet-savvy, or just the lesser of two evils, a lot of people seem to be thinking happy thoughts.

Now all we need is some pixie dust.

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Election Afterthoughts

Last night was one of most exciting of my life. I got to watch America do something special.

I got home around 6:30, right after the first polls closed. I stayed hooked to television and computer until just after President-elect Barack Obama’s acceptance speech. It was an amazing experience.

During past elections, information was sought largely from television news. This time, I paid more attention to a large selection of Web sites than to the obnoxious commentary of political analysts. Apparently, so did a lot of other people:

According to Akamai, which is the content delivery network for most major news sites including CNN (which had a record day on its own), NBC, Reuters, and the BBC, global visitors to news sites peaked last night at 11 PM with 8,572,042 visitors per minute.
That is double the normal traffic level, and 18 percent above the previous peak of 7.3 million visitors per minute achieved during the World Cup back in June, 2006. (The third biggest peak to news sites was last March during the first day of the U.S. college basketball playoffs when it hit 7 million visitors per minute).(TechCrunch)

Most of the links below aren’t to news sites, though. These are passionate and creative people who found different ways to reflect on what we all saw last night. A little bit of meta-coverage, if you will.

Mark Luckie put together a time-lapse video of the NYTimes home page from last night. It starts while voters are still at the polls and ends with Obama’s victory. “In the Hall of the Mountain King” was an inspired musical choice.

Mark Newman and his cartogram software showed how skewing the normal red/blue map according to population or electoral votes is a better graphical representation of how America voted.

Daily Kos collected headlines and newspaper front pages in the US and elsewhere. Excellent collection with some really creative designs.

My friend Matthew Gonzalez grabbed some screen shots from news Web sites’ home pages. I really love the NYTimes treatment.

Designer Robb Montgomery collects his best picks of front pages. I have to agree, the Chicago Sun-Times front is amazingly powerful. He also brings us “a video tour and spot critique of top U.S. media Web sites and their election graphics at the moment when Sen. Barack Obama won the 2008 presidential election.”

ReadWriteWeb put together a really cool slideshow of election coverage online, showing resources from Twitter to Ustream, news sites and more.

Mindy McAdams put together her own slideshow of voting maps and home pages.

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Spot.us FB group and updates

I recently joined the Spot.us group on Facebook. I’ve met David Cohn and heard him talk about Spot.us as well as following his blog for quite some time now. His idea is intriguing, and I’ve been pretty excited to see how things might work out for him.

From his message to the group, here are three successfully funded stories:

The first example of Community Funded Reporting came from a fantastic reporter Alexis Madrigal who examined the infrastructure of ethanol in the state of California. I feel confident that it is the most exhaustive look at the subject to date.

The second example is ongoing: The SF Election Truthiness Campaign. We raised $2,500 from 74 small donations (average $33) to fact-check political advertisements for the upcoming SF Election.
Just today PBS’ MediaShift blog wrote about it.

Our most recent success story is underway right now: Chris Amico will look into the environmental concerns of cement kilns in the Bay Area.

Sounds like things are going really well for David so far, (congrats!) and I hope to see the project grow and even expand to other areas!

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Newspaper curmudgeon talking points

This is amazing. Must memorize. Where did I hide my index cards?

• Comments are worthless vitriol and they degrade the work of journalists.

• Never link to your competitors, you’re just giving them traffic!

• Social media is a fad. Investing in it now will be a waste of time and money when it all goes bottom-up.

• A blog is not a tool for journalism, it is for people in robes writing about their cats.

• Citizen journalists suck. They’re biased! They have opinions and everything. Act like they own politics.

From:

The ultimate guide to newspaper curmudgeon talking points — Eat Sleep Publish.