The Best & Worst of Times

Without a doubt, the TEC program and the entire San Francisco internship experience has only gotten better, more challenging, and more fun (this gloomy weather might mess it up, though!) during the time I’ve been here. As I write this long overdue blog entry, I’m splitting my peripheral vision between two laptops and a Dell monitor. Was it Tim Young of SocialCast who said “Multitasking is BS?” I agree with this statement, and yet having my real work project of revising the company’s Media Kit staring back at me from the large center monitor helps to keep me on task even while checking E-mail and updates on the screen to my left and blogging to my right..or does it?

Looking back on the past month, my weekends have been busier and more jam-packed with travel and activity than my weekdays. Ironic, because I usually look forward to the weekend as a time of relaxation and slowing down. In fact, the variety of events I have attended and people I have met on the weekend reassures me that I have made an excellent choice in joining the TEC program and staying in the Bay Area for the summer.

This past Saturday, I attended the Society for News Design San Francisco MeetUp at Adobe, Inc. I have always been interested in journalism, as Copy Editor of my high school newspaper and major in Communications & Political Science at Stanford. This free MeetUp was right up my alley in more ways than one: it gave hope that with a little innovation, the journalism tradition could thrive in the “Digital Age;” it was free, and it was favorably located near the San Francisco Caltrain station. The most interesting presentation of last Saturday was from Tyson Evans of the New York Times, who revealed some of the data representation projects he was working on: comments from around the world shown in real-time as silhouettes within a crowd; years of homicide files displayed as colored dots on a map depending on categories like age of perpetrator and even weather the day of the crime. I am excited about what the New York Times is putting together using the Web and their vast stores of information, and for such official (premium?) content, I can imagine a new revenue stream in the works.

But while this giant of the news world tries to ride out the storm that has overtaken so many organizations already, Om and Paul of top tech blog GigaOm hold no punches in their criticism of the Times. Om’s “New Media” presentation and Paul’s “value spectrum” illustrated the same point in different ways: The New York Times may have great content, but it has never prioritized the voice and the needs of the customer in its business model. In the words of Om, “They need to LISTEN now more than ever.” Paul’s brainstorming on the white board definitely helped us to visualize the NYT model and realize how “content distribution”-the main advantage of the paper’s delivery-has become irrelevant. These are considered by many to be “dark days” for the New York Times, but I personally would love to be inside the giant, to be part of the team whose responsibility it is NOW to Listen, leverage Relationship Value, and Innovate with technology.

Stephanie

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