I write to you from a plane returning from San Francisco*, home of our tech overlords, where I spent two days presenting a bird’s eye view of the intersection of ad tech, publishers and marketing to Mozillians (who are not our tech overlords) and others.

I was very satisfied, especially because the group leveled a bunch of questions at me that I hadn’t thought deeply about but should have and also because I think at least some of what I had to say was new to them.

The workshop I presented was a restructured and expanded version of the…


Publishers getting paid a tiny fraction of big tech’s daily profits to publish on a specialized news platform is a bad idea for a lot of reasons. But it is particularly bad when it comes to Facebook. Why?

So there are now three theoretical compensated major tech platforms for publishers to “put their news upon.” There is Google News (not really compensated, except for Google sending you more traffic, but who knows, one day, EU copyright law, etc…), there is Apple News+ (where you actually get paid in real money but not a lot) and there is the now…


There is something endlessly frustrating when a news site launches a redesign that is a barely changed rehash of a large media companies older design.

Few, if any, media companies are backing up their design with user experience science. If the final sites are any indication, we have paid little attention to decades of significant study into UX and reader patterns. We shouldn’t be imitating them.

Instead, we try to determine design based on imaginary user stories and A/B testing. The problem is that when we treat humans as users, we forget to account for designing in a way that…


Facebook is partnering with fact-checking organizations to eliminate the scourge of fake news from your feed, only it doesn't seem like partnering. Aren't partners supposed to treat each other like equals?

Many of the common objections* to journalism by the alt-right center around news being click-bait and rather uninformed discussions of impression-based advertising. The essential idea is that journalists are being corrupted by money. It isn’t a hard argument to make because mainstream journalists also don’t like the idea of mixing business and editorial goals. Yet as these arguments move towards the extreme the eventual implication is that money corrupts…


No one writes anything on the internet.

HTML does not have a tag for bylines. The web’s fundamental technology has tags for six different headers, figure captions, navigation and asides. It does not have a tag for authorship. HTML5, designed for “allowing you to describe more precisely what your content is,” cannot describe who wrote this article.

Authorship is a major indicator of quality and transparency. Without it built into the structure of pages good writing may disappear from the web, because we don’t know how to value the people who write.

HTML5 has tags for six different headers, figure…


So I have access to Facebook’s dashboard for Journalists: “Signal”. Facebook needs to approve access for Signal and it seems you need to work at a media organization to use it.

With all the discussion around Facebook’s Trending I thought it would be interesting to talk about what is visible inside of Signal for Trending.

Signal has Trending and Emerging tabs as part of its Trending section.

I’m not going to go into detail about the Emerging section right now, but I’ve played with it in the past and I’ve spotted topics that would move from Emerging to Trending as…


In the interests of cool data, I’ve collected information about every single piece of content I read on the internet (and some of the videos too). I’m able to dive into this collection to find out all sorts of interesting metrics. Here’s a few stats from everything I’ve read in the past three months.

Internet reading accomplished vs goals:

Stories Read / Stories Queued To Read

August:

438 / 536 ( 81% completed )

July:

493 / 544 ( 90% completed )

June:

400 / 546 ( 73% completed )

Notes: not all stories read made it to my reading queue before being read except…


After years of using delaying tactics and last minute deadlines to push last minute Senate votes, Mitch McConnell’s attempt to use building deadline pressure to extend, with some modification, three of the more controversial Patriot Act provisions failed late Sunday night. The bill to do so is the USA Freedom Act. It is still likely to pass on Wednesday.

Rand Paul used parliamentary rules to disrupt the vote and debate pushed beyond midnight, forcing the government to shut down:

NSA bulk data collection (the now infamous Section 215 which allows, among other things, collections of photos of your dick, to…


Let’s be humans on the internet.

The hardest part of doing better on the internet (at least for me, and in my experience for many others) is following these rules. I don’t always get there, but I’m always trying.

1: You could always be wrong.

2: Remember that people criticizing a group of which you are a member are not criticizing you personally.

3: Do not deploy knee-jerk defenses of organizations or groups you enjoy, people can defend themselves until you do the research. Sometimes they can continue to defend themselves after you’ve done the research.

  • 3b: The following can…

Aram Zucker-Scharff

Director at The Washington Post. Dev w/ @pressfwd. Technology solutions for journalism probs. Opinions & data my own. Prev: Salon.com, UPI, Altac@GMU.

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