Friday Reading S02E11

It’s back to school time and back to “Friday Reading” on Fridays. So here’s some stuff I read on the internet which I enjoyed or found informative and which I thought you might also find interesting, informative or enjoyable. Plus a link to The Spectator.

Refugee crisis intensifies

The story of the week has been the escalating migrant crisis in Europe and the decision by many media companies to publish the photos of Aylan Kurdi. Here’s Kadhim Shubber on why he was unimpressed with the u-turn of one tabloid in particular, and Tom Chivers looked into whether distressing images like this can really change minds. Maeve McClenaghan looked at what would have happened to Aylan had he managed to reach the UK, and it ain’t a pretty read.

This was great from Cassie Werber on how wishful thinking transformed a few people clicking Facebook buttons into an international story about how Icelanders were offering their homes to refugees.

And this comic will probably tell you at least one thing you didn’t know already about the conflict in Syria.

Here are five practical ways to help refugees right now.

And this is a prick being a prick but you probably don’t need me to tell you that.

On digital journalism and tech culture

Former colleague Anna Leach on “9 things I learned from doing mainstream data journalism” while she was editor of Ampp3d.


“Overall, I still admire the idea of Contributoria and would love to see it or a similar project succeed.

I imagine if Contributoria threw more resources behind forums, created a solid way to vet users, included an inbox with each account and hired a really wonderful community manager to facilitate discussion, they would be in a very different place right now.

I do hope someone will try this again and will learn from these mistakes. I know I’d be willing to try again.”

This is why Contributoria failed. Many faults. One big reason” – Leigh Shulman

“The goal was always to build a culture — a culture of learning, a culture of generosity, a culture of values. Culture infects everyone. Successfully building a culture ensures when you leave you can hand your work off to people you trust and they will run the thing without you and make it better than you could have imagined.”

Five years, building a culture, and handing it off” – well worth reading the now ex-CTO of Etsy.

Conclusive proof I’m old

Everybody really seems to like this piece on “What Are The Stars Of 2005 Indie Doing Now?” but I’ve got to be honest I’m too old and I was like “Who?”, “Them?”, “Never heard it” but it does have some good insights into the grind of having your second album unreleased by your record company.

Politics, culture, and a “fetid ball of soggy electric fat”

“Just as a newly-formed political party would be best off finding the point on the ideological spectrum where it can find the biggest ‘space’ (assuming this party has absolutely no ideological principles and is solely concerned with the pursuit of power), an intelligent playmaker given a free role will venture to the position in the pitch where he can find the most space…

[Cantona, Bergkamp, Zola]’s use of space was not as calculated as Labour’s, but was no less intelligent and equally devastating to opponents. Labour ditched the traditional left and moved towards the centre; these forwards abandoned a position up against the opposition centre-backs, and moved towards the midfield.”

An endearingly far-fetched attempt to explain the last 25 years of British party politics as an expression of football tactics by Michael Cox

The faces of transgender teen America” by David Yi on Mashable. Getting to tell their own story in (mostly) their own words

Jessica Valenti interviews and profiles Anita Sarkeesian. HAVE A GUESS WHAT THE COMMENTS SECTION IS LIKE. GO ON.

“The fetid ball of soggy electric fat at the other end of your clicking finger will thank you for the workout.”

Down the internet wormhole of “From the web”

A service called “Avoid Humans”. You’re welcome.

User research, good and sub-optimal

“A bad survey won’t tell you it’s bad. It’s actually really hard to find out that a bad survey is bad — or to tell whether you have written a good or bad set of questions. Bad code will have bugs. A bad interface design will fail a usability test. It’s possible to tell whether you are having a bad user interview right away. Feedback from a bad survey can only come in the form of a second source of information contradicting your analysis of the survey results.”

On Surveys” – Erika Hall

Meanwhile, you can do a consultation survey about the future of the BBC. In the blurb it says “If you are viewing this on a mobile phone, you can access the survey using a mobile optimised version here.”

Imagine what my response is going to be in the survey to that…