It sure was interesting following along with this year’s Society for News Design conference via Twitter today. Seems like each speaker had wonderful points to make and wonderful insights to share on the ever-changing field of news presentation.
What really sent everyone into overdrive this afternoon, however, was the closing keynote address by Amy Webb, founder of the Webbmedia Group, a digital strategy and training consultancy based in Baltimore.
Oh, PLEASE tell me this presentation wasn’t as
sparsely attended as this picture suggests.
Photo by Satoshi Toyoshima.
No one had to tweet Amy talking points. She tweeted her own speech as she went along.
Tory Hargro of USA Today explained:
I had never heard of this. I use Powerpoint, myself. Bu, wow. This is impressive.
Here’s the text from the page Tory cited:
This simple piece provides the capacity for speaker or presenter to to participate in the backchannel of a talk or conference session by integrating live ‘tweets’ into an Apple Keynote presentation. Simply add text inside the tags [twitter] and [/twitter] in the presenter notes section of a slide and when that slide comes up in the presentation the script will grab that text and send it to Twitter on your behalf.
Here are the details:
The software works with Keynote (on a Mac) but not with Powerpoint. It’s written in Applescript so it’s easy to customize — it’s compiled as a ‘stay open’ application but you can open it in Script Editor to modify as you wish. Out of the box it will ask you if you want to add any #hashtags or @mentions to all the tweets (e.g. for a conference #hashtag), and will watch your presenter notes for tweettweet this[/tweet] while in presentation mode only.
The catch, if you want to call it that: You have to be logged into Twitter via your keychain. This might be an issue for folks who use third-party Twitter substitutes. But one that’s easily solved.
And that was just the presentation of Amy’s presentation. The content of her presentation was pretty amazing as well.
(The following tweets, in fact, went out during her presentation on her own Twitter feed. I’m not necessarily showing them here in the correct order, however.)
Amy started out with statements aimed at getting the attention of the SND crowd.
And, of course, she’s spot-on. And boy, I’ll bet this sound byte ruffled a few feathers today.
She dove into the basic format of news web pages. Which are archaic at best. Unusable at worst.
Folks in the audience began to shift nervously in their seats.
The foot/mouth reference is to a plea Billy Kulpa of Lee Enterprises had just made for more folks to come into the session.
In fact, Amy picked on a number of news outlets, including CNN and the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. The latter reference was particularly interesting: She pulled up crime data from the paper’s web site and then from the city of Milwaukee Police Department web site. The MPD kicked the paper’s ass.
Ouch. But point made. In spectacular fashion.
Here’s another sound byte that nearly made me stand up — here at home in Virginia Beach — and applaud.
I use newspaper web site search engines all the time. I’m amazed at how poorly they work. As a test once, I ran a search for the lead story on the home page. The search engine couldn’t find it.
Amy didn’t just speak in general terms. She gave specifics.
Just amazing stuff. I really wish I could have been there for this. This sounds like just the kind of session we all need to give us a swift kick in the ass.
Amy also inserted little nuggets that seem to run counter to what some of us preach about “content-driven design.”
Naturally, I’d argue that the design of a web site — just like the design of a printed page — must support or accentuate that content. If it doesn’t, then it’s bad design.
And Amy’s correct here. What we’re doing with most of our news sites is taking content from one platform — print — and pouring it into a second platform — online — where the fit isn’t necessarily a good one.
Go back to the egg. Disrupt the packaging. Rather than let the content drive the design, perhaps we should change the way we deal with the content. The way we write it, the way we edit it, the way we put it out there for our readers.
Kind of like Mario Garcia‘s old WED philosophy — writing, editing and design — but updated.
Not updated…. constantly evolving.
Yeah. I’m liking this presentation. And then there was this shocker:
Stunning stuff. I’m hungry for more. And really, really ill I couldn’t be there this week.
In addition, Amy has a book coming out in January, in time for Valentine’s Day. She tweets:
Here’s the blurb from Amazon. Which sounds fascinating:
After yet another online dating disaster, Amy Webb was about to cancel her JDate membership when an epiphany struck: It wasn’t that her standards were too high, as women are often told, but that she wasn’t evaluating the right data in suitors’ profiles. That night Webb, an award-winning journalist and digital-strategy expert, made a detailed, exhaustive list of what she did and didn’t want in a mate. The result: seventy-two requirements ranging from the expected (smart, funny) to the super-specific (likes selected musicals: Chess, Les Misérables. Not Cats. Must not like Cats!).
Next she turned to her own profile. In order to craft the most compelling online presentation, she needed to assess the competition—so she signed on to JDate again, this time as a man. Using the same gift for data strategy that made her company the top in its field, she found the key words that were digital man magnets, analyzed photos, and studied the timing of women’s messages, then adjusted her (female) profile to make the most of that intel.
Then began the deluge—dozens of men wanted to meet her, men who actually met her requirements. Among them: her future husband, now the father of her child.
Forty million people date online each year. Most don’t find true love. Thanks to Data, a Love Story, their odds just got a whole lot better.
The book hits shelves on Jan. 31. Preorder a hard copy from Amazon for $15.18. Find the book’s web site here and its Twitter feed here.
Find Amy’s Webbmedia web site here and her Twitter feed here.
For more on Amy…
Previous blog posts about SND Cleveland:
And a couple more sites to keep handy: