Tag: New York Times

New York Times and Bob Stein


The first visit of the fantastic New York Trip was the New York Times. The interior hallway had an incredible piece on display. It was the first sign that this trip was going to be incredibly memorable.  The piece consisted of multiple small displays that would display live feeds of the New York Times website. In the department itself, we discussed the R and D at the New York Times, and their approach to analytics and relationship with readers. Everything they use is stream based, allowing for live feedback. This allows for excellent feedback which is integral to running a news oriented service. They have many other feedback sources told through beautiful looking data visualizers. These help identify what he called “postures” in the readers, allowing them to discover and analyze trends. The goal is to deepen the relationship with the readers as opposed to increasing web traffic. “They aren’t chasing after clicks”

For me, this was by far one of the most influential visits for me. I never realized that the R and D department for something as big as the New York Times would be so open and friendly. The work ethic was incredibly powerful to me. Their focus on transparency and being honest to their readers and subjects was such a relief amidst all the speculation of piracy scandals. It was also a very collaborative environment. Everyone was always bouncing ideas off of one another. One of the incredible things however was how they aren’t pressured by the higher ups to create something that will increase revenue or readership. They are given breathing space which sounds like an incredible change from most corporations.

  1. Is the workspace a collaborative environment where you share ideas and make decisions together?
  2. What are the development times from prototyping to actually using something in the workspace?
  3. How do you feel about the scandals popping up about privacy and transparency?




(The game that I mention. It is one of the most powerful games I’ve ever played)

On the same day we visited the ITP department within one of the New York University buildings. We listened to a lecture by the amazing Bob Stein on the nature of publishing and fiction. Bob Stein believes that modern publishing is clueless to certain trends in the modern world. He showed that the trends are moving past static and non-interactive mediums for more interactive and collaborative mediums. Publishing companies are still stuck in past of non-interactivity and static-ness when everything is pointing in the opposite direction. In particular, he strongly believed that gaming is going to become the dominant form of fiction and literacy in the future. He cited games like World of Warcraft as an example of collaborative fiction, as each player works together to create their own worlds and stories. He also noted that games are introducing new forms and techniques of storytelling.

                This was another very interesting discussion that is actually quite relevant to family. I read from time to time but I am by no means a heavy reader. However, my father adores literature and is pretty much always on a novel or three. We don’t really see eye to eye on gaming as a source of well written narrative. Games such as the Last of Us has taught me that games can be an incredibly tool for storytelling. I agree with Bob Stein on many of the points he made. I also found his metaphor of the mountain to be quite profound. It has me looking into the past now to see if what he says is true.1

  • My dad believes that games are not a powerful form of narrative. What do you think is a good way to convince him otherwise
  • What are some games that you feel really push the boundaries of storytelling?
  • Where would you recommend starting in terms of looking at the past?



((I have no idea why its formatting my posts to squish the photos like this??????)))

New York Times R&D



  1. For Kepler: In order to predict the trends for the next five years, how are different media and a data points collected?
  2. For Kepler: In order to get a wide range of data on media coverage, a lot of information needs to be stored and managed. How is the team managing the information beyond the point of using StreamTool? (How is the database being stored?)
  3. For Listening table: A friend of mine was talking about how taking notes in his university is brutal and how system like this would be great for students who need a little assistance taking notes. He suggested creating an application for taking notes for laptops. The Listening table uses a strong imbedded voice-translating system to grasp sentences of words. Does New York Times consider creating an OpenGL for systems like these?


When the class arrived at NYT, we were brought inside where the host, Noah Feehan, greeted us and gave us a tour. He first showed the class the system installed in the hallway called the Kepler. The Kepler is a system that tracks different types of media that are being read by people at the time, and stores that information as data in terms of location, time, and other categories in order to show various trends of news being accessed. The project is to help NYT determine the types of media people are most interested in, and the trend that it follows for the next three to five years.


The class then relocated into the NYT office, where Feehan showed us the program Cascade, a project that analysis world related news trends in social activities.


Feehan later showed us various other projects, such as the StreamTools. StreamTools is a program that helps filter and map out various trends and data that is being sent from the start point and helps plot the data into programs like Cascade and Kepler.


After that presentation, Feehan also showed us the Listening Table, an interactive table that records snip-bits of certain information and returns the information into a text log on a screen.


Lastly, Feehan exhibited a program that retrieves old image databases that would allow users to retrieve news articles based on the image from ads. This allows users to experience a piece of old history’s news and art, since photographs were not used in the past. We ended the meeting with a Q&A session.


Personal Reflection:

New York Times has proven to me that technology has advanced immensely. Not only is a news paper company using tracking data to figure out the trends of places all over the world, the company is also representing it beautifully on screen, making it intuitive and easy to read. As Feehan spoke more about data visualization, I thought of ways to explore more about the possibilities of what data visualization can do, and how much further it would progress. This presentation made me think if it is possible to create an application using data visualization to give data and information about the different locations we will be attending in New York. Data visualization aside, the Listening Table sparked a program/application my friend asked me to build as a side project. The program is for students who take notes in lectures, which would have voice recognition and voice-translation to help student take down important parts of notes in order to prevent missing information. The table made me think how convenient it would be if some of these tables were installed within universities, or if this table can be translated into an application or program. Due to the high demand of help in note taking from students, this project may be a potential kick-starter.

Relevant Links:

Kepler: http://nytlabs.com/projects/kepler.html

Listening Table: http://nytlabs.com/projects/table.html

StreamTools: http://nytlabs.com/projects/streamtools.html

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