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On Our Radar: Pretty Advanced Machine Learning

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Forgive me for stating the obvious, but some really fascinating tech is coming out of newsrooms right now. This month, Shan Wang has already written two great pieces on different ways the New York Times is integrating Slack into their newsroom—introducing us to Blossom, the bot that helps editors decide which stories to promote on social media, and showing how the team used Slack as a tool for live-blogging the first Republican presidential debates.

A photo spread of the current and former Knight-Mozilla Fellows.
The 26 current and former Knight-Mozilla Fellows. Image credit: OpenNews, licensed under CC 3.0.

If you read that and wished it could be your day job, now’s the time to apply for the Knight-Mozilla OpenNews Fellowship. The deadline is this Friday at midnight EDT. —Marie Connelly, blog editor

Your weekend reading

  1. Sociologist Tressie McMillan Cottom caught my attention with her piece on the many meanings of faves—and why Twitter changing the icon from a star to a heart is more than a graphic tweak (tl;dr: hearts make people feel funny). I’ve been seeing this more and more recently, from a period-tracking app that puts hearts onto intercourse days to Twitter adding a rainbow-heart hashflag if you tweeted #pride or #lovewins after the U.S. marriage equality ruling. If you ask me, these little icons are a big deal: as an industry, we’re overstepping the emotional boundaries of users, and forgetting who’s in charge. I should get to decide how I feel about something, not my digital products. —Sara Wachter-Boettcher, editor-in-chief
  2. I have a confession to make: I’m not a big preprocessor fan. (BTW, have you heard about my kid-free lawn?) They absolutely have their place, but my projects mainly involve small teams working with non-technical clients, so simplicity is the name of my game. Chris Coyier’s recent post, “The Trouble With Preprocessing Based on Future Specs,” does a good job of spelling out some of the more esoteric concerns with the approach some preprocessors take, and the problem with trying to predict the future of web specifications. —Tim Murtaugh, technical director
  3. I love Lyza Gardner’s recent talk on the importance of generalists—especially when she says, “Generalists are the people you hand off work to, knowing they don’t know how to do it, and knowing they’re going to get it done anyway.” Anyone recognize themselves in that? —Rose Weisburd, columns editor
  4. We’re so used to hearing everyone sing the praises of Apple as an innovator in the tech and design fields. So when I came across this article about Don Norman slamming them for sacrificing usability in favor of appearance, I was immediately interested. Don makes some really good points, shedding a different light on the computer giant’s ease-of-use practices.—Erin Lynch, production manager
  5. Like many, I learned to code on the web by building GeoCities sites. Cameron’s World is a web collage built from pieces of archived GeoCities pages. Visiting Cameron’s World feels like jumping in a time machine to an era when the web was less polished—but much more personal. —Yesenia Perez-Cruz, acquisitions scout

Your must-see hashtag


Overheard in ALA Slack

“It is nice to hear that someone else also feels compelled to recoil from warmth and goodness, as a Dracula might recoil from garlics.”

Your Thursday gif

A gif of a cat attaching an iPad and falling off a table.

1 Reader Comments

  1. We wholeheartedly agree that some iconography–especially little hearts–can feel overbearing, especially if we’re forced to use them. When we build functional designs, our graphic designers and UX folks work together from Day One to avoid creating imagery that looks amazing but is, in some way, inimical to a fully consensual user experience.

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