Meet the Team: Ben Keith, News Apps Developer

Ben Keith - News Apps Developer
Photo credit: Laura Bertocci

Over the next few weeks, we'll be highlighting everyone on the small-but-mighty INN Labs team. It's only fitting that today we'll start with Ben Keith since he's been on the team the longest!

Ben is our News Apps Developer and has been with INN for 2 and a half years. His role involves building WordPress sites and plugins, providing support for our Largo and plugin users and maintaining his reign as the team's undisputed trivia champion. He has been an integral part of site redesigns for our members and is especially proud of his work on the Pym Shortcode plugin.

Get to know him more (in his own words) below:

Where are you from?

Currently: Columbus, Ohio.
Formerly: the DC area.

What's your favorite part of your job?

(jokingly) The commute.

Where do you get your news?

WaPo, NYT, ProPublica, Guardian US, Quartz, The Dispatch, The Lantern, Washington Times, WOSU, NPR, Ars Technica,  and a bunch of fellow news nerds I follow on Twitter.

Who or what inspires you?

Massive open-source projects, like WordPress, the Linux kernel, The Internet Archive, and Archive of Our Own.

Also, organizations that combine advocacy and legal work, like the ACLU, the EFF, and the Organization for Transformative Works.

What are your hobbies outside of work?

Papercraft, reading, reading, and various small web projects.

What's your favorite part of working remotely?

It allows me to spend a lot more time with my family. I have worked from my parents' house, a friend's house, from the waiting room of a doctor's office, from libraries and airports. I can go places and see people without having to take (as much) leave.

What's your favorite kind of pie?

Oreo. It's almost completely unlike pie.

What cartoon character would you be?

The one who was handed unstoppable power, but hesitates to use it. Or a librarian.

What's your spirit animal?

An osprey.

If you could have a superpower, what would it be?

In most genre fic, straight-up future knowledge is crippled by either the mechanics of the power or the mechanics of the universe. If it's available, sure, I'd take it, but otherwise I think I would go for something more useful. So some sort of Tinker/Thinker power.

What's your favorite book?

The Mars Trilogy.

Favorite place you've traveled to?

Philmont, New Mexico. It was 10 days of hiking in some gorgeous terrain, while still having the comforts of pumped water and hot food.

Are you a dog or cat person?

Cat. ?

Most recently used gif:

And lastly, describe yourself in 5 emojis or less:

?   ?   ?   ?   ?

Nerd Alert 113: Oh, Danny Boy…

HOT LINKS

What we're reading this week

Ben: In Kavya Sukumar’s “Making Remote Working Work For You” article, she briefly mentions Geoff Hing opened his home as a coworking space for friends. Does anyone else do something similar?

Gabe: How the WSJ created its graphic about the Trump family’s 500+ conflicts of interest.

 Julia: Have some fun animating thousands of points with D3.

 Kay: For those of you interested in learning more about Accelerated Mobile Pages, here are some tips for translating custom stories to AMP.

 RC: Check out this podcast on the state of javascript and javascript frameworks in a WordPress context.

 Inndy: Trust me, I’m a robot.


SHOUT OUT

Work we admire by our journalism peers

Hearken: Helping reporters be more transparent, earn trust and build audience with Open Notebook.

The Knight Foundation released its report on How Youth Navigate the News Landscape.

The Center for Public Integrity just open-sourced their app generator: https://github.com/PublicI/app-generator.


GET A JOB

Good jobs with good people

Maplight is hiring a Development Manager.

Searchlight New Mexico is hiring a Senior Data Journalist and Investigative Reporters.

INN is hiring a Director of INN Labs.

The Center for Public Integrity is hiring a News Application Developer/Data Journalist.

The Marshall Project is hiring for a Multimedia Editor, an Immigration Reporter, a Membership Manager and Communications and Development Associate.

The Lens is looking for an Environment Reporter.

Mother Jones is hiring for a Facilities Manager, a Managing/Production editor and for a Mother Jones Documentary Film Residency.

ProPublica has a bunch of job openings for their new Illinois office.

NPR Visuals is hiring a Summer Intern.

VTDigger is hiring a Chief Innovation Officer and a Social Media / Community Editor.

The Better Government Association (BGA) seeks a Development Assistant, a Board Liaison & Development Associate, and has Internships available.

Reveal is hiring an Investigations Editor.

Mississippi Today is hiring a Product/Web Designer and Developer.

Chicago Public Media is hiring a Developer.

The Tor Project is seeking a Communications Director.

If you're looking for general jobs in nonprofit news, check out the main INN newsletter and sign up here to get it in your inbox every Tuesday. Two INN newsletters are better than one!


WE MADE A THING

Our work

Pym Shortcode Version 1.2.0.2 is available to download, now with the latest Pym.js 1.2.0 and bug fixes.


LOVE NERD ALERT?

We love you back

Please consider supporting this newsletter with a donation to INN.

Or, if you'd rather contribute content over cash, be a guest contributor! Read more about that here and shoot us an email at nerds@inn.org if you're interested. We'd love to hear from you.

Thanks much!


DEADLINES

Stay in the know

Today is the deadline to apply for OpenNews ticket and travel scholarships. OpenNews is offering $500 toward the travel cost of attending an event as well as full coverage of your event registration fee.

Do you have ideas about how to improve the flow of accurate information? Submit a proposal to the Knight Prototype Fund by April 3.


ANNOUNCEMENTS

Listen up!

As we start to build the next version of Largo, we'd love to hear your ideas, suggestions, and feedback on what you'd like to see included and updated!

For the next two weeks, our Office Hours will feature Largo-specific ideas sessions. This is a great chance to shape our ideas and get that one feature you've always wanted in the next version! We'd love to hear your feedback, so make sure to join us on Friday, March 24 and Friday, March 31 from 2-3pm EST.

All are welcome!


SOME OTHER STUFF

Gather ye rosebuds

LISTEN: The Postmodern Jukebox covers “Give it away”. ?

EAT: Mamma Mia! ?

DRINK: The Mother-in-Law Cocktail. She’ll be pleased.?

WATCH: NICAR 2017 Lightning Talks.⚡


Harumph.

Nerd Alert 111: Origami for News Nerds

HOT LINKS

What we're reading this week

Ben: Ever wondered what a website was like in the past? Then take a look at Waybackpack, a command-line tool that lets you download the entire Wayback Machine archive for a given URL.

Gabe: This in-depth analysis of push notifications from 12 different news sites will get you thinking about how language and context frame the narratives constructed by media outlets. An important read in these times.

 Julia: OpenNews released the results of their first community survey. Check out these charts and learn more about who news nerds are, how we work, and the challenges we face.

 Kay: How do you get college students interested in a traditional newspaper? That’s what the Raleigh News & Observer is aiming to figure out with their 100% online College Town.

 RC: Check out the pre-reading list for last weekend’s Misinfocon in Boston:

  1. Fake news. It’s complicated: To understand the misinformation ecosystem, here's a breakdown of the types of fake content, content creators motivations and how it's being disseminated
  2. The distributed denial of democracy: Coming together to address anti-democratic trolling and disinformation online
  3. Persuading Algorithms with an AI Nudge: Fact-Checking Can Reduce the Spread of Unreliable News. It Can Also Do the Opposite

 Inndy: A drone made out of mushrooms? Yep! This new humanitarian aid tech is built to save lives and then dissolve within days.


SHOUT OUT

Work we admire by our journalism peers

SND Design Competition

Congratulations to the recent winners of the Society for News Design's Best of Digital Design Competition! We're especially proud of our work with the Chicago Reporter, which received an Award of Excellence for #SettlingForMisconduct.


GET A JOB

Good jobs with good people

INN is hiring a Grant Officer & Writer and a Director of  INN Labs.

The Center for Public Integrity is hiring a News Application Developer/Data Journalist.

The Marshall Project is hiring for a Multimedia Editor, an Immigration Reporter, a Membership Manager and Communications and Development Associate.

The Lens is looking for an Environment Reporter.

Mother Jones is hiring for a Facilities Manager, a Managing/Production editor and for a Mother Jones Documentary Film Residency.

ProPublica has a bunch of job openings for their new Illinois office.

NPR Visuals is hiring a Summer Intern.

VTDigger is hiring a Chief Innovation Officer and a Social Media / Community Editor.

The Better Government Association (BGA) seeks a Development Assistant, a Board Liaison & Development Associate, and has Internships available.

Reveal is hiring an Investigations Editor.

The Sunlight Foundation is hiring an Operations Manager.

Mississippi Today is hiring a Product/Web Designer and Developer.

Chicago Public Media is hiring a Developer.

The Tor Project is seeking a Communications Director.

Vox Media’s Storytelling Studio is looking for a Front-End Designer.

If you're looking for general jobs in nonprofit news, check out the main INN newsletter and sign up here to get it in your inbox every Tuesday. Two INN newsletters are better than one!


WE MADE A THING

Our work

This week, the INN Nerds created not one, but two new WordPress plugins:
No Nonsense Google Analytics & Client Hosting Manager

New updates and additional documentation were also released for our Pym Shortcode plugin. ?


LOVE NERD ALERT?

We love you back

Please consider supporting this newsletter with a donation to INN.

Or, if you'd rather contribute content over cash, be a guest contributor! Read more about that here and shoot us an email at nerds@inn.org if you're interested. We'd love to hear from you.

Thanks much!


EVENTS & DEADLINES

Stay in the know

Julia and Ben are in Jacksonville, FL for NICAR through Sunday, March 5th. Are you there too? Make sure to say 'Hello!'

The deadline for INN Emerging Leaders Council nominations is March 15.

April 7th is the deadline for the Data Journalism Awards 2017 competition.

SRCCON: Propose your session starting March 22 and get in the 2017 ticket lottery starting April 26.


SOME OTHER STUFF

Gather ye rosebuds


LISTEN: 
Tank and the Bangas ?

WATCH: Pick a politician, watch them get yelled at.

EAT: The new essentials of French cooking.

DRINK: When food waste becomes beer.


Dare to be creative!

Nerd Alert 110: When Bots Write News

HOT LINKS

What we're reading this week

Ben: You watched Arrival, right? Wolfram has posted all the code from a recent live stream discussing the analysis of the heptapod language on Github.

Gabe: I have no words for Christoph Niemann’s masterpiece story on the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ).

 Julia: Did some reading on CSS this week: an ode to element queries and a cheat sheet comparing CSS Grid Layout and Flexbox.

 Kay: The Columbia Journalism Review’s ongoing Platform and Publishers project reveals 10 interesting takeaways on how publishers are using social media platforms.

 RC: Read about Alphabet subsidiary Jigsaw and their new Conversation API - an AI-driven solution for combating internet trolls.

 Inndy: What do news-writing bots mean for the future of journalism?


SHOUT OUT

Work we admire by our journalism peers

Reveal Oroville Dam

Awesome work by the team at Reveal. They took a deep look at the Oroville Dam to show us how America’s tallest dam nearly overflowed.


GET A JOB

Good jobs with good people

ProPublica has a bunch of job openings for their new Illinois office.

NPR Visuals is hiring a summer intern.

VTDigger is hiring a Chief Innovation Officer and a Social Media / Community Editor.

The Better Government Association (BGA) seeks a full-time Civic Engagement & Special Projects Coordinator.

Reveal is hiring an Investigations Editor.

The Sunlight Foundation is hiring an Operations Manager.

Mississippi Today is hiring a Product/Web Designer and Developer.

Chicago Public Media is hiring a Developer.

IRE is seeking a Training Director.

The Tor Project is seeking a Communications Director.

Vox Media’s Storytelling Studio is looking for a Front-End Designer.

INN is hiring a Grant Officer & Writer and a Director of INN Labs.

If you're looking for general jobs in nonprofit news, check out the main INN newsletter and sign up here to get it in your inbox every Tuesday. Two INN newsletters are better than one!


WE MADE A THING

Our work

Last Friday we launched the re-design of our Largo Project website. We also created a new Support Landing Page that consolidates all of our available support resources. Our design apprentice, Gabe Hongsdusit, wrote about the process of creating illustrations and animations for the re-design in a recent blog post.


LOVE NERD ALERT?

We love you back

Please consider supporting this newsletter with a donation to INN.

Or, if you'd rather contribute content over cash, be a guest contributor! Read more about that here and shoot us an email at nerds@inn.org if you're interested. We'd love to hear from you.

Thanks much!


EVENTS

IRL happenings

Julia and Ben are heading to Jacksonville, FL for NICAR next week – find them and say hello, and stop by Julia’s Thursday morning panel on remote working.


SOME OTHER STUFF

Gather ye rosebuds


LISTEN:
 A Take Away Show with Lee Fields. ?

WATCH: Every New York Times front page since 1852.

EAT: These simple yet sophisticated 3-ingredient parmesan shortbreads are the perfect complement to your weekend cocktails.

DRINK: Can You Taste the Music? Breweries and Bands Collaborate on Beers Inspired by Song.


Now as you were.

Nerd Alert 109: Eclipse Season

HOT LINKS

What we're reading this week

Adam: Take ‘er easy.

Ben: Digital Rights Management is probably a boring topic, but the consortium that effectively governs the web is trying to decide whether or not it should be included in web browsers. Ars Technica explains what it is, why it’s controversial, why some people want it included, and why some people wouldn’t touch it with a 39½-foot pole.

Gabe: Calling all LGBT/Queer women and allies in tech! Lesbians Who Tech will be having their annual summit in San Francisco next weekend. Livestream tickets for the event are free.

 Julia: Data sonification (using audio to represent data) is a hobby of mine, and I thought this experiment by a motion designer was a neat way of transforming keyframe animations into sound.

 Kay: Don’t miss this week’s 3 to Read, which covers the growing impact of news deserts, Wikipedia’s banning of the Daily Mail, and two views on holding on tight to print.

 RC: Google released some tutorials on telling a story using Google Maps and how to fact-check an image.

 Inndy: You talking to me?


SHOUT OUT

Work we admire by our journalism peers

NASA

Props to the Environmental Data & Governance Initiative, which is hosting #DataRescue events across the country to do important things like archiving NASA’s earth science data.


GET A JOB

Good jobs with good people

VTDigger is hiring a Chief Innovation Officer and a Social Media / Community Editor.

The Better Government Association (BGA) seeks a full-time Civic Engagement & Special Projects Coordinator.

Reveal is hiring an Investigations Editor.

The Sunlight Foundation is hiring an Operations Manager.

Mississippi Today is hiring a Product/Web Designer and Developer.

ProPublica is hiring a Reporter, Senior Editor, Web Producer, and a number of other positions.

Chicago Public Media is hiring a Developer.

IRE is seeking a Training Director.

The Tor Project is seeking a Communications Director.

Vox Media’s Storytelling Studio is looking for a Front-End Designer.

INN is hiring a Grant Officer & Writer.

If you're looking for general jobs in nonprofit news, check out the main INN newsletter and sign up here to get it in your inbox every Tuesday. Two INN newsletters are better than one!


WE MADE A THING

Our work

Last Friday we launched the re-design of our Largo Project website. We also created a new Support Landing Page that consolidates all of our available support resources. Our design apprentice, Gabe Hongsdusit, wrote about the process of creating illustrations and animations for the re-design in a recent blog post.

Adam and Ben have also written a comprehensive post on building donation forms using Gravity Forms, Mailchimp, and Stripe. We encourage you to read through the post and experiment with these tools. Our support team is happy to assist.


LOVE NERD ALERT?

We love you back

Please consider supporting this newsletter with a donation to INN.

Or, if you'd rather contribute content over cash, be a guest contributor! Read more about that here and shoot us an email at nerds@inn.org if you're interested. We'd love to hear from you.

Thanks much!


DEADLINES

The clock is ticking

The deadline is February, 20, 2017 for submitting a proposal to In These Times' Goodman Institute for Investigative Reporting.


SOME OTHER STUFF

Gather ye rosebuds

LISTEN: The Magic iPod.

WATCH: Ashe Dryden's keynote on The Ethics of Open Source at MozFest 2016.

EAT: Zoodles don’t have to taste like sadness.

DRINK: With Duncan.


Happy trails, Adam.

Nerd Alert 108: Feeling Burned Out?

HOT LINKS

What we're reading this week

Adam: 58957.

Ben: From MuckRock executive editor JPat Brown, some amusing anecdotes and a whole lot of tips about FOIA.

Gabe: Jackie Lay is an illustrator and designer who’s done fantastic video animations for The Atlantic. She interprets spoken word with humor, grace, and originality. Check out her videos about Caitlyn Jenner, the origin of dogs, and Notorious R.B.G.

 Julia: An important question these days: How do we design the news for people who are burned out?

 Kay: These drone journalism camps will give you the hands-on experience necessary to pass the FAA exam and also include important sessions on the ethics and law of using drones for journalism.

 RC: Creative Commons has released a new search tool to help you find open licensed images from across the web.

 Inndy: Cassie the Bipedal Ostrich Bot.


SHOUT OUT

Work we admire by our journalism peers

 

OpenNews has gone independent.


GET A JOB

Good jobs with good people

INN is hiring a Grant Officer & Writer.

Chalkbeat is hiring an executive editor and a national reporter.

The Tor Project is hiring a Communications Director.

The Texas Tribune is hiring a software engineer.

ProPublica is hiring a web producer, a product developer and a number of other positions.

KPCC is hiring an audience insights and development manager.

The American Press Institute is hiring a reader revenue program manager.

The Pew Research Center is hiring a research analyst on its journalism and media research team.

The Trust Project is hiring a project manager.

The UK Local Data Lab is hiring its first two team members.

The Internet Archive is hiring for a number of positions, including a head of digitization.

If you're looking for general jobs in nonprofit news, the main INN newsletter has dozens of openings every week. Check it out and sign up here to get it in your inbox every Tuesday. Two INN newsletters are better than one!


WE MADE A THING

Our work

This week we launched a Largo-powered redesign for Fresh Energy, a Minnesota nonprofit dedicated to shaping policies for a clean energy economy.


BE OUR GUEST

This week's guest contributor

Katie Methe (@katiemethe) is a technology problem solver, digital strategist and a Senior Team Lead @10up.

I enjoy reading articles from Post Status, which is dedicated to informing WordPress professionals and enthusiasts about the industry. In particular, here's some New Year's Resolutions for WordPress Developers.

You too can be a guest contributor! Read more about that here and shoot us an email at nerds@inn.org if you're interested. We'd love to hear from you.


ANNOUNCEMENTS

Listen up!

We’ve made some changes to our Support Process. (Plus, check out our cool new Largo site!)

And in team news, the one-and-only Adam is leaving INN to go be awesome at Mother Jones, and Julia is taking the helm here. Stay tuned for more updates next week – but don’t worry, Nerd Alert is sticking around for good.


SOME OTHER STUFF

Gather ye rosebuds

LISTEN: 99 Red Balloons with Red Balloons.

WATCH: The Birth and Death of JavaScript.

EAT: Caramelized-Honey Brûlée. For now, for Valentine’s day, for always.

DRINK: Lord Nibbler, a Cocktail with IPA syrup, Bourbon, and Campari.


Until next time...

Nerd Alert 107: 1 Month Down, 11 to Go

HOT LINKS

What we're reading this week

 Adam: Chicago Magazine has an excellent feature on oboist Alex Klein’s dramatic comeback from focal dystonia. To get a sense of his artistry, make sure to check out his 2001 recording of the Strauss Oboe Concerto. One of the very best.

 Ben: Microsoft’s emotions API can be fed images from video, so why not use that to determine the emotional content of inaugural addresses? Periscopic’s analysis is pretty impressive.

 Gabe: Illustrator Christoph Niemann’s Sunday Sketching is a thoughtful reflection on the creative process that hits close to home.

 Julia: This overview of animation in design systems contains useful guidelines to help you create pleasant – and performant – user experiences.

 Kay: Are people allowed to just take your time? Jason Fried shares an alternative.

 RC: The Knight Foundation has released a review of what they’ve learned about podcasting from their investments in the space.

 Inndy: Meet my newest autonomous friend, Bat Bot!


SHOUT OUT

Work we admire by our journalism peers

Shout out to all the news organizations tracking staffing choices for the Trump administration. Take a look at a few of the big ones and read the Same Diff column on Source for a detailed comparison of the coverage.


LOVE NERD ALERT?

We love you back

Please consider supporting this newsletter with a donation to INN.

Or if you'd rather contribute content over cash, be a guest contributor! Read more about that here and shoot us an email at nerds@inn.org if you're interested. We'd love to hear from you.

Thanks much!


GET A JOB

Good jobs with good people

INN is hiring a Grant Officer & Writer.

The Tor Project is hiring a Communications Director.

The Texas Tribune is hiring a software engineer.

ProPublica is hiring a web producer, a product developer and a number of other positions.

KPCC is hiring an audience insights and development manager.

The American Press Institute is hiring a reader revenue program manager.

The Pew Research Center is hiring a research analyst on its journalism and media research team.

The Trust Project is hiring a project manager.

The UK Local Data Lab is hiring its first two team members.

The Internet Archive is hiring for a number of positions, including a head of digitization.

If you're looking for general jobs in nonprofit news, the main INN newsletter had more than 16 job openings this week. Check it out and sign up here to get it in your inbox every Tuesday. Two INN newsletters are better than one!


SOME OTHER STUFF

Gather ye rosebuds

LISTEN: Lila Downs: Story-teller, tremendous voice, and Grammy winner (NBD). ?

WATCH: The magical, interrupting, bird of paradise.

EAT: All of the dips.

DRINK: Have your drink and eat it too.


Onward!

Week 2: Immersion Continues

Last Friday marked the end of my second week at INN. To be honest, though, it feels like I've been here for much longer - something I take as a sign of great culture fit. Everything that was so new in the first week is becoming more familiar and the continued support of the INN team is making it exciting to ramp up quickly.

The beginning of week two was a continuation of the first few days; squaring things away with my computer setup, reading more team documentation, and getting to know the rest of the team that I hadn't connected with in week one. By Wednesday, things started to "kick into high gear" as I dove into looking at our help desk and support workflows. I also paired up with teammates and felt empowered by learning the nuances of what we do and how we do them, which can otherwise be difficult to document. Sometimes there's no substitute for meeting "in person" (and in our case through video) and talking through an idea, approach, or problem.

I also began to learn more about our incredible members, the powerful stories they produce and the challenges they face. I look forward to continuing to learn about our members, our services, and the nonprofit news industry this week!

The Art of Immersion: Reflections on Week 1

Today marks the end of my first (half) week at INN, since being brought on as the new Support and Community Lead last Wednesday. While the past 3 days flew by I began to immerse myself in our team documentation, the various roles on the team, and our remote culture. I’ve read (and tried my best to digest) a lot of information about who we are, what we do, and (most importantly) why we do it.

This all has led me to:

  • Gaining a true appreciation of our members and their work. This is an appreciation and understanding which I look forward to strengthening next week as I familiarize myself with our members’ sites and more of their work.
  • Getting to know the team and learning a ton of interesting facts about them. They are all equally fascinating and also great at what they do.
  • Orienting myself to how we collaborate and get things done at a large scale with a small, but effective team. And, of course, all from the comfort of our various home offices.

So far only one thing has caught me off guard in my first week. Learning so much new information, meeting lots of new people and being on a new (notice a theme here?) schedule is tougher than I predicted. Luckily, the team at INN has been incredibly welcoming, understanding and insightful. I’m looking forward to recharging over the weekend and then diving into all that week 2 has in store!