Nerd Alert: Issue Two


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In this post-holiday week, the leftovers are dwindling and yet we forge ahead.  To Mars!


What we're reading this week

Adam: Studio 20 (a graduate program at NYU) is teaming up with Storyful to explore what it would take to create a more agile newsroom. Here at INN we borrow a number of elements from agile software development, so we’re interested to see how this project unfolds. They already have two excellent interviews up with Melody Kramer and Brian Boyer of NPR and Vox Media's Yuri Victor.

Ben: Friedrich Lindenberg talks about, a story editor that finds figures and companies in your story as you write and gives you significant information side-by-side with the story in progress. It’s an attempt to take story composition tools beyond mere text editors, and Friederich muses about additional ways that software editors can help writers commit acts of journalism.

Kaeti: In order to move the web forward responsibly, we need to understand our past. This lovely history of web design (with illustrative GIFs) is a great place to start.

Meredith: Melody Kramer launched a mom-approved blog and shares her thinking. Melody loves "making magic on the internet." She is thoughtful, funny and always learning. Recently she weighed in on the Serial podcast and its community.

Ryan: John Pavlus writes about Bret Victor (former "Human Interface Inventor" at Apple) and his ideas for unlocking our creativity by thinking differently about our interactions with computers. For a deeper dive, check out Victor's "Learnable Programming" project in which he explores some pragmatic approaches to easing the process of understanding programming.

Will: As part of my apprenticeship with INN, I've been exploring various ways to pull site metrics directly into WordPress. And while collecting data is inherently good, using metrics meaningfully can prove difficult, as Caitlin Petre from the Tow Center of Journalism explains:

To know the implications of metrics for journalism, we must first understand how this data is created, interpreted, and used by real people in actual organizations.

Bert: Humans may make it to mars, but never forget that robots got there first.

This week's guest contributor: Lauren Fuhrmann, Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism

My new favorite tool for collaborative docs: James Somers (@jsomers) built DraftBack to let you play back and analyze the making of every Google Doc you own or have permission to edit.

(Hat tip to Kate Golden @wiswatchkate.)

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


Our projects, manifest

Two things this week: A post from Ryan on recent updates to our deploy tools. This is the set of tools we use to deploy the Largo platform to WP Engine but there are many helpful tools in here for working with WordPress more generally. And a post from Adam on our various community building efforts including our News Nerd Book Club, which is coming up next Wednesday.


Work we admire by our journalism peers

Election Night is one of the biggest news events of the year for MinnPost, but as a small, nonprofit organization, they can’t afford election data feeds from AP or Reuters. They also focus on local and state races — results that aren’t always available from national feeds.

Figuring that other small organizations have similar needs, MinnPost’s data team built the Election Night API — a set of tools, configurations, and instructions to collect and serve election results. Check out the write up to learn more about how and why they made it happen.


Thanksgiving we will never let you go 

LISTEN: Sam Amidon and Bill Frisell perform “Walkin’ Boss” on World Cafe, one of the first tunes Amidon learned to play on the banjo.

COOK: Vox ranked cranberry sauce second to last in their definitive ranking of Thanksgiving sides. Clearly they haven’t had Adam's cranberry sauce.

World-Famous Award-Winning Bourbon Ginger Cranberry Sauce

Serves ~8, depending on how much you like cranberry sauce. I normally make a double batch because I REALLY like cranberry sauce.

This can be made a day or two ahead; it’ll keep for a while in the fridge.


  • 4 cups, fresh cranberries (frozen would probably be OK, too)

  • 1 cup,  orange juice

  • 1/2 cup, white sugar (to taste, add more if you like your cranberry sauce sweeter)

  • 1 or 1 1/2 tablespoons (to taste), chopped fresh ginger (I leave mine pretty coarse but you might want to dice yours finer if you don’t like big chunks)

  • Spices to taste, I’d start with about 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp allspice, 1/2 tsp nutmeg, 1/4 tsp ground cloves and adjust to suit your tastes

  • 1/4-ish cup, bourbon (a.k.a., the secret ingredient)


  • Rinse the cranberries, then combine with the orange juice, sugar, ginger and other spices in a medium sauce pan over medium high heat.

  • Bring to a boil, stirring frequently.

  • Reduce heat, add the bourbon and simmer for 8-10 minutes, continuing to stir frequently.

  • Once the cranberries have mostly popped and the sauce starts to thicken, adjust the spices to taste and then remove from heat and let cool.

  • Store refrigerated and serve cold.

GIF: We are all made of stars.