Welcome to Nerd Alert: Issue One


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Welcome to our very first newsletter. Have we made a terrible mistake? Is this the future of journalism? Only time will tell.


What we're reading this week

Adam: Derek Willis of the NYT writes, "Reporters and editors need to be better, stronger users of their publishing tools, not just to be effective at their jobs but to shape and inform the growth and improvement of those tools." This is something we think about a lot, particularly in our work on Largo. Many of the sites we work with still have only one or a few "web people" who do all or most of the publishing work and interaction with the CMS. But I’d argue strongly that everyone at your organization should at least know the basics, not just for efficiency’s sake but because it will also help you all to become better publishers (and give us better feedback).

Kaeti: For web folks and designers who haven’t yet jumped into the world of CSS preprocessors, this post by Molly Wilson at Sliced Bread Design is a clear and helpful introduction. The post assumes an intermediate level of CSS knowledge, but even total beginners can benefit from the overview.

And one more cool thing: Coolors is a fun tool to find color pairings and inspiration.

Meredith: Steve Losh, a programmer, suggests, "The purpose of technical documentation is to take someone who has never seen your project, teach them to be an expert user of it, and support them once they become an expert." We are building a framework for thinking about documentation and supporting users. The guidance offered here resonates, "teach, don’t tell."

Ryan: This week, INN added another member to the team — a shiny new chat bot, Bert. Bert is an instance of Hubot running on Heroku. You can find Bert's configuration here: https://github.com/INN/hubot. Learn how having your own Hubot can make your life better: https://hubot.github.com/

Already have a Hubot instance of your own? Tweet us @INNnerds with your favorite Hubot scripts or fun chat room anecdotes.

Will: Ben Thompson of Stratechery talks about "internet scale," and reminds content creators that "the thing about Internet scale is it doesn’t just have to mean you strive to serve the most possible people at the lowest possible price."

And a bonus lunch link: Here's a fascinating cutaway of the Evening Star's office building in 1922.

Bert: Beep beep toot toot.

This week's guest contributor: Ted Han, DocumentCloud

Social media and sites like Reddit.com are an ever increasing component of how people read and process the news. Facebook and Twitter have made efforts to reach out to writers and news producers explicitly. But not all platforms are equally accommodating. Reddit as the self-styled "Front page of the internet" has had a particularly odd and complicated relationship with writers and news sites. The Atlantic found themselves banned site-wide on Reddit through their attempts to engage with Reddit's communities (they were later unbanned).

When reaching out on these platforms it's worth reading up on the norms and practices within the various communities they host. Reddit also stands out as peculiar here as they view themselves as a polity and actively experiment with how users and creators interact on the site. They’ve recently talked about ways to charge creators for posting to the site and also ways to distribute part of their revenue back to the community.

Want more links from Ted? Follow him @knowtheory.

Each week we ask someone from outside our team to contribute a link, tool or idea. Are you our next guest star? We think you might be. Send us a note at nerds@inn.org.


Our projects, manifest

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Stealing the NPR app template for fun and (non-)profit — A couple weeks ago, our team launched its first news app (which you can find here). This week, we wrote about how we built it, how we pulled off a collaboration with this many orgs, and what we learned along the way.


Work we admire by our journalism peers

A server-less boundary service? What sort of witchcraft is this? Wherewolf, by Jenny Ye and Noah Veltman, allows you to display information (e.g., an election district) for a given geographic point.

Check out the repo for examples and code.


Gather ye rosebuds

LISTEN: Adam strongly recommends you listen to some Piedmont blues with Rev. Gary Davis.

COOK: Winter is upon us, but our hearts remember a warm summer day with drinks and tacos on a patio. Good thing we have this collaborative collection of taco recipes to see us through this dark season.

WATCH: The binge rewatch of Gilmore Girls continues (now available on Netflix). INN nerds are #teamjess.

GIF: Well this certainly gives us a lot to think about over the weekend.

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