Five Short Links

Digifive
Picture by Tiger Pixel

How US News abandoned print and learned to love its data – How a magazine started monetizing its rankings of colleges, cars, high schools and mutual funds as a side-business, and ended up closing the traditional publishing business to focus on it exclusively. People in the publishing business often think they’re selling books, magazines or shows, but those are just the delivery mechanisms for the advice and entertainment people actually crave.

eq.org.nz – The power of Ushahidi – How the local online community responded to the Christchurch earthquake. The details in this account are crucial, especially how important the ‘neutral ground’ aspect of the service was. With no corporate logos on the site, competitors felt it was safe to cooperate without worrying that it would backfire on them. That attitude may seem crazy in the face of a catastrophe, but efforts like this are way more effective when they don’t require people to behave like saints.

Article text extraction from HTML documents – In-depth bibliography on all the projects out that take a web page, and try to extract the important “body” text, without the ads, boilerplate or navigation links.

Big Data, Analytics and Storytellings – I spent an hour chatting with Lyle Wallis last week, he’s spent years fighting in the trenches applying data analysis to real-world problems. He had a lot of insights, but this post captures one of the most obvious but also most overlooked: People respond to stories. As engineering-types, it’s easy to miss out on the power of laying out your explanation as a narrative, but it’s a marvelous mental hack for connecting with your audience. See also Ira Glass.

Mobile internet usage in Japan – Comscore does a great job of teasing out the effects of the quake on cell data traffic. It actually surprised me how subtle the patterns of the disaster were in the data, even through something that apocalyptic.

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