Monthly Archive for October, 2008

New York Times Anthrax Scare

Who?

Equipment and officials from some government agency that I’ve never heard of, in the lobby of the New York Times Building in midtown.

The lobby of The New York Times Building, where I work, was closed this past Wednesday, after an employee on the 13th floor opened an envelope that contained a powdery substance. (The 13th floor is where the editorial board and some columnists have offices.)

It turned out to be a hoax, but for several hours the building was in near lock-down mode. Unfortunately, I decided to disregard warnings and went out to meet Lisa for lunch. When I returned, I was locked out for almost an hour, as the police had roped off the building’s entrances. Peering through the windows on the 8th Avenue side of the building, I saw a huge curtain stretched across one of the elevator banks. Some firemen went in with a stretcher, and the broadcast news media started converging on the street. (Apologies to the very friendly NY1 camerawoman, for refusing to talk to her on camera.)

All I could do was to take some photos, and wait to be let in. After about an hour, I received word from a colleague inside that they were letting employees back in through the freight elevators in the loading dock down 40th st. That was about all the fun I could handle for one day… back to work.

More Photos below the jump.

Continue reading ‘New York Times Anthrax Scare’

How Hackers Show it’s Not All Bad News at the New York Times

Apologies that this blog looks a little New York Times-y lately, but I had to share this – O’Reilly’s Andrew Savikas wrote a very interesting post on some of the interesting stuff we’re doing:

…there‘s something going on at the Times that probably won‘t make it to Silicon Alley Insider, much less the mainstream business press, and it‘s something that‘s starting to make me think the Times just might succeed in adapting to the changing rules of the media and publishing game…

So what’s the Times doing that’s so important? They’re hacking.

Savikas goes on to list a lot of examples, but the best one that I can provide is the coming release of our APIs, which will enable people on the outside to play, tinker, and mashup NY Times content. There are only a few APIs currently public, but there will be a flood of releases in the coming months.

[via Jeremy]

UPDATE: Oh man, a bit after I published this today, we launched our Visualization Lab – a partnership that uses IBM’s Many Eyes technology. More Info Here »

What the Hell, Malcolm Gladwell

My friend Julia writes today on Huffington Post – What the Hell, Malcolm Gladwell. She takes the Tipping Point author to task for not including one woman in his new book Outliers, which examines high achievers:

But what about Virginia Woolf, Susan Sontag, Tina Brown, or Indra Nooyi, the CEO of PepsiCo?

What about Oprah?

The omission of women in Outliers says more about the nature of “big think” books than it does about Mr. Gladwell.

I think that lets him off the hook easy, but it’s interesting to read Julia’s thoughts on the book publishing world. She posts regularly to the Harper Studio blog, at 26thstory.com.

New York Magazine Profile of Nate Silver

New York Magazine has an interesting profile on Nate Silver, the man behind the political website FiveThirtyEight.

Silver uses data analysis to track and weight polls, based on their historical track records and methodologies. What’s interesting is that he rightly predicted the outcome of the Democratic primary race, while commentators at the time were talking about a Hillary Clinton comeback.

This Election’s Poster Child

Design critic Steven Heller looks at poster design this presidential election cycle, and the unprecedented outpouring of support for Senator Barack Obama:

So, do these posters have any impact on voters? Not the specific images or messages but cumulatively they are a grassroots effort that excite through the show of collective support. What’s more, posters often appeal to personal needs and emotions, not all rouse in the same way for everyone. Having many options allows partisans to engage as they choose. This show of support goes in the plus column for Barack Obama.

Take a walk down Smith Street in Brooklyn, and you’ll see Shepard Fairey’s poster in many shop windows – it’s almost comic… not just street art any more.

Streetsy: 40+ Streetartists You Should Know Besides Banksy

Jake Dobkin presents 40+ Street Artists You Should Know Besides Banksy:

Everyone knows who Banksy is – but the international streetart community has hundreds of other great artists that deserve your attention. Here’s a selection of the very best.

Christoph Niemann’s Abstract City

One of my favorite blogs on NYTimes.com is written by the German illustrator Christoph Niemann, called Abstract City. He only posts once a month or so, but each one is as unique and interesting as the last.

And, it is amusing that his blog – of all NYTimes.com blogs – doesn’t have an illustrated icon in the header. It’s not intentional on our part, he just hasn’t gotten to it yet.

See More of Christoph Niemann’s work »

Ready for David Pogue

Shadows
Me, standing in, as lighting is set for a David Pogue shoot.

Today, myself and a few colleagues helped Zach Wise set up and shoot some green screen video of New York Times Technology Columnist and near-Broadway performer David Pogue. The video will be integrated into a multimedia piece that Zach and I are working on, which should be done before Thanksgiving.

This is the first real video shoot that I’ve worked on, (having in the past done a lot of voice-over work with sound engineers). What’s scary is that we did this largely by ourselves – Zach found a studio at the nearby CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, we hung the green fabric, and we set up the lighting with a little help from their engineer.

David Pogue came in a short while later, I grabbed a boom mic, and we were off to the races. It was a lot of fun, and Pogue nailed the takes – I have no idea how he did it without a teleprompter, but he had us all laughing several times. And he was very patient and friendly throughout the shoot, even when we had to embarrassingly scramble back to the office for more P2 cards.

So, that was the hard part – now we have to design and build this thing.

CIA Tactics Endorsed In Secret Memos

The Washington Post has a page one story today on a pair of secret Bush Administration memos sent to the CIA, that explicitly endorse the agency’s use of torture techniques. It’s unclear who the leaks came from, but it appears that the memos addressed concerns expressed by then-CIA Director George Tenet:

The repeated requests for a paper trail reflected growing worries within the CIA that the administration might later distance itself from key decisions about the handling of captured al-Qaeda leaders, former intelligence officials said.

So, Tenet was looking to cover his ass. Nice reporting WaPo.

Mad Men, Mad Props

Mad Men is such an enjoyable show – but, typeface designer Mark Simonson takes Mad Men’s prop masters to task for their typography sins.

None of these missteps occurred to me when watching, so maybe I need to brush up on my history of typography?

The Measure of a President

The Times has an interesting (if not completely pointless) infographic on presidential height and weight, in recent history. I like that the silhouettes are all mostly recognizable – Jimmy Carter’s smile, Harry Truman’s spectacles and William Howard Taft’s belly… funny.

It was done by Scott Stowell’s design studio, Open N.Y., the people who design GOOD Magazine.

No Want!

No Want!

Katya gets involved in the party planning. (Photo by Lisa)

More Photos from our V.P. Debate Party »

MSM Ahead of Curve on V.P. Debate

Did you know that NYTimes.com streamed live video of last night’s debate, right on the top of its home page? There was a full-screen option, too. Pretty cool stuff – even Gawker was impressed.

Also, check out our V.P. Debatinator – a mashup of video, transcript, and timeline from the debate.

Beehive vs. Chompers: V.P. Debate Party

V.P. Debate Party

Invitation design for our party, Thursday night.

I couldn’t resist – Lisa and I are hosting a V.P. Debate party this Thursday night, so I whipped this invite up. The idea was to play up two of the more striking elements of the candidates’ appearance: Sarah Palin’s beehive and eyewear, and Joe Biden’s abnormally large teeth.

The result is kind of awkward but fun. It looks like an elongated John Kerry-sized head, but it’s not worth fussing with the proportions at this point. Just go with it… I did.

UPDATE: The always charming Emily pointed out a rather obvious spelling mistake in the design above. Can you find it?

Subtraction 7.1 Beta

Khoi Vinh recently realigned his blog, Subtraction.com, converting the back-end from Movable Type to Expression Engine. (Full disclosure: Khoi is my boss.)

There are a few new tweaks to the familiar design, the most noticeable being the link roll folded-in with longer form entries, creating a nice chronological flow. Also, he created templates for photo posts.