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July 25 2012


NYTimes Latest Push

The Data Universe team at The New York Times has over the past few months overhauled the company's push infrastructure. What had been accomplished using a vendor's push notification service is now managed through our new DU Push Mobile Center. It's a flexible system that's improved the speed we push news alerts out to millions of customers (4 minutes in most cases) and should enable plenty of future enhancements and new services.

April 25 2012


52 Applicants Move to Next Round of Knight News Challenge

The Knight Foundation has selected 52 applicants that will move onto the next stage of its News Challenge.


There's a theme you'll see running through the proposals that have made it thus far -- namely, networking. That's because networks are the focus of this year's first round. (The Knight News Challenge now offers three rounds instead of one competition per year.)

What sort of networks? "The Internet, and the mini-computers in our pockets, enable us to connect with one another, friends and strangers, in new ways," Knight's John Bracken wrote in a release when the round was first announced. "We're looking for ideas that build on the rise of these existing network events and tools -- that deliver news and information and extend our understanding of the phenomenon."

Consultant Ryan Jacoby wrote further about some of the trends he saw among applicants. You can read more about that here.

Here's the list of who's moving onward to the next round of the challenge (49 are listed because two were closed entries so we're not able to share them):

Amauta (Eric French)

Asia Beat (Jeffrey Wasserstrom/Angilee Shah)

Bridging the Big Data Digital Divide (Dan Brickley)

Change the Ratio (Rachel Sklar)

CitJo (Sarah Wali/Mahamad El Tanahy)

Connecting the global Hacks/Hackers network (Burt Herman, Hacks/Hackers)

Connecting the World with Rural India (Brian Conley)

Cont3nt.com (Anton Gelman/Daniel Shaw)

Cowbird (Jonathan Harris/Aaron Huey)

Data Networks are Local (Erik Gundersen, Development Seed)

DifferentFeather (Elana Berkowitz/Amina Sow)

DIY drone fleets (Ben Moskowitz/Jack Labarba)

Docs to WordPress to InDesign (William Davis, Bangor Daily News)

Electoral College of Me (John Keefe/Ron Williams)

EnviroFact (Beth Parke/Chris Marstall)

Funf.org: Open Mobile Sourcing (Nadav Aharony/Alan Gardner; MIT)

Global Censorship Monitoring System (Ruben Bloemgarten, James Burke, Chris Pinchen)

Google News for the Social Web (Sachim Kandar, Andrew Montalenti, Parse.ly)

Hawaii Eco-Net (Jay April, Maui Community Television)

Hypothes.is (Dan Whaley/Randall Leeds)

IAVA New GI Bill Veterans Alumni Network Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (Paul Rieckhoff)

m.health.news.network (Marcus Messner and Yan Jin)

MediaReputations.com (Anton Gelman/Daniel Shaw)

Mesh Potato 2.0 (Steve Song/David Rowe)

Mobile Publishing for Everyone (David Jacobs/Blake Eskin/Natalie Podrazik)

NOULA (Tayana Etienne)

Peepol.tv (Eduardo Hauser/Jeff Warren)

PreScouter (Dinesh Ganesarajah)

Prozr (Pueng Vongs/Sherbeam Wright)

Rbutr (Shane Greenup/Craig O'Shannessy)

Recovers.org (Caitria O'Neill/Alvin Liang)

Secure, Anonymous Journalism Toolkit (Karen Reilly)

Sensor Networks for News (Matt Waite, University of Nebraska)

Shareable (Seth Schneider and Neal Gorenflo)

Tethr (Aaron Huslage/Roger Weeks)

The PressForward Dashboard (Dan Cohen/ Joan Fragaszy Troyano, George Mason University)

ThinkUpApp (Gina Trapani/Anil Dash)

Tracks News Stories (David Burrows, designsuperbuild.com)

Truth Goggles (Dan Schultz)

Truth Teller (Cory Haik/Steven Ginsberg, Washington Post)

Unconsumption Project (Rob Walker/Molly Block)

UNICEF GIS (Joseph Agoada, UNICEF)

Watchup (Adriano Farrano/Jonathan Lundell)

Water Canary (Sonaar Luthra/Zach Eveland)

A Bridge Between WordPress and Git (Robert McMillan / Evan Hansen)

In the Life (Joe Miloscia, American Public Media)

Get to the Source (Joanna S. Kao/MIT)

Farm-to-Table School Lunch (Leonardo Bonanni, Sourcemap)

Partisans.org (Michael Trice)

Protecting Journalists (Diego Mendiburu and Ela Stapley)

What do you think about the finalists? Who are your favorites and who do you think should win?

Sponsored post

December 07 2011


Recapping TimesOpen: Hack Day

Seventy developers, maybe more, visited the Times Building on Saturday for TimesOpen: Hack Day. They were joined a couple dozen developers from The New York Times. The combined crowd occupied every available seat in the conference facility on the 15th floor of the Times Building. Practically everybody was there to program, and they all brought their coding chops and their creativity. In the end 15 projects demoed, 6 projects won prizes. And one project, HappyStance, earned the title, Best of Hack Day.

July 17 2011


New Project entry - The Future is a Flying Carpet

 I want to build an online portal that will bring people together through collective imagination about what they wish, in their highest dreams, to be a picture of future cities, future governmental systems, technology, educational systems, economic systems, future visual spaces, architecture, environmental solutions, anything possible. It is in the belief that by undue focus on negative scenarios and individualistic commercialism, we are inevitably and unwittingly likely to hamper positive future development as a collective. As with the individual, we find many authorities talking about the need to believe in a positive element to bring oneself out of depression, everyone talks about curing the individual, but no one really gives too much attention to the individual in relation to the whole community – and how that could also benefit the individual. What if we could contribute to a collective shift in consciousness, as well as in practical action in daily life? One that doesn’t simply depend on what we already think, or what others have told us, but what our own hearts whisper is the need for all of us. It would form a platform for interaction through an online community and an interactive platform that would allow users to submit their ideas and make contributions to what they read from others. It is also envisioned that decision makers and corporations would use it for the development of their own enterprises, and that they would form the basic initial push to give the website its manifestation.

June 15 2011


Using Twitter as Your Database

Here's how we used Twitter as a CMS for election coverage.

May 18 2011


M4D in India: a snapshot

According to India’s telecom regulator, TRAI, India has around 500 million active mobile users. A new study by Opera Software released recently found that 49% of Indians are Mobile Only Internet Users (see this infographic for details on their useage).

What is the relevance of mobile technologies for the development landscape, given that the World Bank has estimated that more than one-third of the world’s poor live in India? This post will provide a snapshot of the “m4d” situation in India, and point you to further resources should you want to find out more about the exciting potential of mobile for development.

ICTD efforts in India have been ongoing for quite some time.  In some cases, mobile applications are being created as standalone measures; in others, mobile projects act as an extension of already existing ICTD projects. The models range from government or NGO-sponsored, to CSR and for-profit ventures.

When thinking about mobile in India, the first caveats to mention arelanguage, illiteracy, and ICT experience. There are innumerable regional languages in India. Only 63 percent of the population is literate, not to mention the huge barriers to ICT access among the roughly 70  percent that live in India’s villages. One project that aims to address these challenges is theBrahmi phone, “the first phone designed for Indian languages.”

Here’s a brief overview of different ways mobile is being used in India’s development sector. New products are getting launched practically every day--if you know of any, kindly share in the comments below!


  • India Institute of Public Health’s infectious disease surveillance system: mobile phones replace paper transmission from field workers to public authorities.
  • Dr. SMS, a Government of Kerala  project providing comprehensive information on health-related resources via SMS
  • Wellness World, just launched last week by Uninor and Handygo, is available on both IVR (Interactive Voice Response) and SMS platforms. It will provide daily information to Uninor's subscribers on health related issues.
  • mPedigree – Started in Ghana and available in India, it’s a platform to protect users from drug counterfeiting.
  • Sana -- Partnering with one of India's leading healthcare providers, Narayana Hrudayalaya, the platform will help to screen and manage chronic diseases in rural and semi-urban India.
  • The Healthphone is set to launch on June 1st, with health and nutrition content in  English and 15 Indian Languages. It is been based on research from UNICEF, WHO, UNESCO, UNFPA, UNDP, UNAIDS, WFP and The World Bank.

It should be mentioned that the telemedicine industry is quite advanced in India; Apollo Hospitals was a pioneer in this regard. See this article by David Shafran for an excellent overview of additional mHealth projects.

m-Governance (complementing e-Governance)

  • Bharti Airtel was the first service provider to offer traffic automation as the world's largest BlackBerry-supported law enforcement network. It has also facilitated property tax collection for Chennai Corporation via BlackBerry.


  • mKrishi: a mobile-based service delivery platform by Tata Consultancy Services for farmers. It provides personalized advice specific to the subscribers' needs.
  • Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA): Each day, SEWA sends agricultural workers SMS messages with commodity prices so they can determine when and where to get the best price for their produce. For more on #mwomen initiatives, see mwomen.org/deployments. ThanksTrina DasGupta for the head's up!
  • Life lines India: Initiated by OneWorld in collaboration with British Telecom and Cicso Systems, LifeLines today serves rural communities in 53 districts across 4 states of India with information services in Agriculture and Education. BT’s first Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programme based on digital inclusion.

(This post serves as research for a guest post I'm preparing & is crossposted from my blog, Beckyblab.)

January 11 2011


December 20 2010


Using Flat Files So Elections Don't Break Your Server

Publishing live election results requires a carefully tuned system: the setup must be able to withstand some of the most intense traffic levels seen all year at NYTimes.com. We decided to center our elections app on the simplest of all caching strategies: the flat file.

December 07 2010


Designing Election Results on the iPad

The 2010 elections provided a chance to develop a custom version of our election results site, specifically for the iPad. In building it, we learned a lot about designing for a new class of computing devices, as well as how to leverage several HTML5 technologies.

November 13 2010


The Great Mandella…

…of life continues. What comes around, goes around. The above visual is from the McNair Fall Choir Concert – a poster to promote excellence for display in the library. Just can’t stay away from that place.

So here I am in my nth month of retirement and STILL trying to catch up with myself when I find myself once again leading students thru visual learning. Today it’s 4H photography, video, and poultry (don’t laugh please – I LOVE my chickens). The latter will most likely become subjects for the two former projects. Nothing cuter than a baby chick.

Today’s focus is just the basics – what do YOU expect to learn as well as intro the the camera and photo/video terms. Since we’re only meeting bout half a dozen times this year, they will have homework of sorts…but as usual, my 4H kiddos are motivated and want to be here. Let’s see how this goes…

October 18 2010


FACT Social Justice Challenge: Featured Projects Announced

French American Charitable Trust logoThe French American Charitable Trust (FACT) Social Justice Challenge seeks to surface innovative Projects that leverage web and/or mobile technologies that foster collaboration around social justice issues.  The FACT Challenge's 90 innovative Projects were put to the community last week, the vote results selecting the 15 Featured Projects to receive development support and move on to the round of expert judges for final selection.

15 Featured Projects

With thousands of votes from the community, the 15 Featured Projects include, in alphabetical order:

read more

October 16 2010


ScraperWiki: Hacks and Hackers day, Manchester.

If you’re not familiar with scraperwiki it’s ”all the tools you need for Screen Scraping, Data Mining & visualisation”.

These guys are working really hard at convincing Journos that data is their friend by staging a steady stream of events bringing together journos and programmers together to see what happens.

So I landed at NWVM’s offices to what seems like a mountain of laptops, fried food, coke and biscuits to be one of the judges of their latest hacks and hackers day in Manchester (#hhhmcr). I was expecting some interesting stuff. I wasn’t dissapointed.

The winners

We had to pick three prizes from the six of so projects started that day and here’s what we (Tom Dobson, Julian Tait and me)  ended up with.

The three winners, in reverse order:

Quarternote: A website that would ‘scrape’ myspace for band information. The idea was that you could put a location and style of music in to the system and it would compile a line-up of bands.

A great idea (although more hacker than hack) and if I was a dragon I would consider investing. These guys also won the Scraperwiki ‘cup’ award for actually being brave enough to have a go at scraping data from Myspace. Apparently myspace content has less structure than custard! The collective gasps from the geeks in the room when they said that was what they wanted to do underlined that.

Second was Preston’s summer of spend.  Local councils are supposed to make details of any invoice over 500 pounds available, and many have. But many don’t make the data very useable.  Preston City council is no exception. PDF’s!

With a little help from Scraperwiki the data was scraped, tidied and put in a spreadsheet and then organised. It through up some fun stuff – 1000 pounds to The Bikini Beach Band! And some really interesting areas for exploration – like a single payment of over 80,000 to one person (why?) – and I’m sure we’ll see more from this as the data gets a good running through.  A really good example of how a journo and a hacker can work together.

The winner was one of number of projects that took the tweets from the GMP 24hr tweet experiment; what one group titled ‘Genetically modified police’ tweeting :). Enrico Zini and Yuwei Lin built a searchable GMP24 tweet database (and a great write up of the process) of the tweets which allowed searching by location, keyword, all kinds of things. It was a great use of the data and the working prototype was impressive given the time they had.

Credit should go to Michael Brunton-Spall of the Guardian into a useable dataset which saved a lot of work for those groups using the tweets as the raw data for their projects.

Other projects included mapping deprivation in manchester and a legal website that if it comes off will really be one to watch. All brilliant stuff.

Hacks and hackers we need you

Give the increasing amount of raw data that organisations are pumping out journalists will find themselves vital in making sure that they stay accountable. But I said in an earlier post that good journalists don’t need to know how to do everything, they just need to know who to ask.

The day proved to me and, I think to lots of people there,  that asking a hacker to help sort data out is really worth it.

I’m sure there will be more blogs etc about the day appearing over the next few days.

Thanks to everyone concerned for asking me along.

October 07 2010


How to Vote: Help Select the FACT Challenge Featured Projects

The public voting process is intended to empower the community to identify the Projects with the most potential for social impact. This guide covers every step of the voting process, but if you ever have questions you can contact us at net2@techsoup.org.

Voting is open from October 11 at 12pm Pacific time and ends October 15 at 5pm Pacific Time.

To avoid a popularity contest, we ask all voters to vote for at least (3) and up to (5)  Projects. 
Please use the guidelines below to get started:

read more

October 04 2010


Submissions Close Today for the FACT Social Justice Challenge!

Whether you are a technologist or a changemaker, an entrepreneur or innovator - from any country around the world - we're looking for your ideas! Social justice covers all sorts of issues, like human rights, equality, and livability; and we see web and mobile-based collaborative technologies offering tremendous opportunity to support social justice work. Today is the last day to submit your Project to the Challenge - submissions close at 5 pm PST.

Use these links to get started now:

read more

September 15 2010


Using Varnish So News Doesn't Break Your Server

Here's a look at how we use Varnish, an HTTP cache, to keep NYTimes.com scaling smoothly.

August 23 2010


Submit your Projects to the FACT Social Justice Challenge

FACT Challenge logoAs we announced last week, the 2nd annual FACT Social Justice Challenge calls for your innovative Projects that leverage web and/or mobile technologies to foster collaboration around social justice issues. Submissions are now open! You can submit your Project idea from today through October 4th. But remember: you can continue to edit, improve and add to your Project throughout that time – so submit today!

read more

July 13 2010


Behind the Scenes of a Live World Cup

This year's World Cup coverage put a heavy emphasis on live, in-game updates and analysis. Here's a look at some of the data and processes involved.

May 25 2010


Building a Better Submission Form

Our new photo uploader, called Stuffy, uses a NoSQL storage engine for speed and flexibility.

April 20 2010


Mobile Technology in Developing Countries: Three Award-winning Projects

Wireless Innovation Project LogoThe Vodafone Americas Foundation and the mHealth Alliance recently announced the winners of the second annual Wireless Innovation Project™ and the first mHealth Alliance Award. The winning projects were selected for their ability to leverage wireless technology to help meet challenges faced in developing countries, including access to clean air, medical care, and financial services for the rural poor.

read more

March 27 2010


A New View: Introducing Doc Viewer 2.0

Taking a look behind the scenes of the latest NYT Document Viewer
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