See here? Nerd.
This pairs nicely with my favorite session from ONA — discussing what new story formats are. Are articles considered particles, waves, or things? I even tweeted with David Cohn of Cir.ca during the session. What a way to meet people online!
Here you go:
Optimizing Your Narrative: An Exploration of New Story Formats #evolvingnarratives
10:30 am Friday
(Covered by Carolyn Crist)
Zach Seward – Senior Editor, Quartz
Pablo Mercado – VP of Technology, Vox Media
Trei Brundrett – Chief Product Officer, Vox Media
Big idea: How do we cover evolving narratives?
Stories are evolving through social and search and are always unfolding.
What type of experience is valuable for users?
Use media to keep people updated as they unfold.
And how do we organize content? Topic pages was it for awhile.
Liveblogs for some stories.
Articles. Let’s blow that up.
The idea of “StoryStreams”
Particles or waves?
Let’s back up to the 1800s when folks were figuring out the nature of life. There was an idea that light was a particle, but it was then also understood as a wave motion. For a long time, people thought it was one thing, but then it was useful to think about it in other terms. That paradigm shift led to advances, and we’re experiencing a similar shift in news now.
We need to adapt our thinking and our systems to account for this paradigm shift in news.
Metaphor! Science accepted that light = particles. Then someone realized it also = waves, opening up massive innovation. #evolvingnarratives
Every night is Election Night in the sports department.
–Explosion of social sources
–Rapid acceleration of news cycle
–Social and search discovery
–Increasing mobile consumption
In the past, AP would write an article and then push out another article. Our blogger mentality was to put an update at the bottom of the post. But we needed a new native format for these.
–Organize around stories and not topics
–Atomic unit of content is not the article
–Reverse chronological is familiar format for blogging
–Quick, in line publishing
Updates are pushed to you in the app. Launched as StoryStreams in 2009, and Google did Living Stories experiment for a story that keeps evolving. So many companies are trying this. Cir.ca has done this with mobile app chunking, and the workflow is designed to create stories in this way.
When do you create a stream?
Who creates a stream?
Multiple authors in the stream?
Original writing vs. curating
Streams for each team on SBNation. Nice to see all of those bloom, about 300 of them.
When trying to deal with new formats and cover stories in a way more like a wave, you have to consider workflow issues.
What order? (Give reader the option to switch it?)
Indication of sequence? Time?
Updates of equal importance?
Brief vs. in-depth
Summarizing current status
Sidebars that tell you where you are in the story? Live updates pop up while you read story?
Another big challenge for news streams: how to present and summarize the story to readers who just joined in? #evolvingnarratives
Everything at one URL?
Updates on individual URLs?
How does Google see this content?
All updates distributed to RSS/Facebook/Twitter?
Zach – Verge (created 2012)
Things. I want to push back and make an argument for particles. There’s a fundamental tension here.
There’s no demand for landing pages.
There’s no demand for packages.
There’s no demand for articles.
*May even argue there’s no demand for news.
I don’t think anyone has ever said, “I really love this landing page.”
We know the supply side we can do. What about demand?
PEW shows that not long ago people were equally divided between not having a news habit and having news habits at breakfast or checking CNN.com at their desks at lunch.
The new news habit it no habit at all.
Push vs. pull media (grab a paper vs get from CNN), how dramatically different news consumption habits have changed in a very short period of time. That forces us to think about things quite differently. When you’re pulling, there’s more room for packages. When pushing, there’s a tendency toward as much atomization as possible and distilling into “things.”
They’re diffuse constellation of sources than anything else.
Split among social media, news sites, direct, search
Things are the grist of the social web
They are the stuff people share: “Hey look at this thing.”
Headline style of “six trends to watch for” and “the chart Tim Cook doesn’t want you to see”
Articles are something that can be passed around and frame them as that.
Quartz traffic comes from side door — social media
Facebook is most shared news stories — most are satellite photos or Steve Jobs patent interactive, letters by Warren Buffett and Steve Jobs’ sister — visuals, raw statements
NPR piece on inside joke on Arrested Development — flabbergasting in its scope
complete history of Twitter as told through New York Times
“Thing” is authoritative take on subject — sells you a bit promise, things don’t have to be short but have to be surprising fact, chart, photo, authoritative feature, exclusive bit of news, strong argument, good headline, quip
… Things are always just one thing.
Trei: When do updates, may write-thru if there were tons of updates that need to be summarized, not worried about duplication. Push new pieces in and summarize if narrative has turned. If wrong, make update to point out that previous was wrong. Leave it there to reference and push out correction.
StoryStream isn’t liveblog in the sense that it doesn’t give full play-by-play and detail.
Zach: Wikipedia is good at updating news events but not a good read until after the fact. You don’t refresh the page and read through it. Pitch as “everything you need to know about xx” or “ultimate explainer of xx” rather than portraying it as a landing page. The technical differences may not be much, but in terms of demand, effect is different.
Zach on Circa: acknowledge they are experimenting, do atomize in chunks but there’s no way to liberate as individual chunks, what can spread is on story or topic level, sense as a user is you see they’ve done more news coverage that feels “thingy” lately because there’s no web component, on web and ways to spread, native app is different and more as a service, makes sense what they’re thinking, at least can’t imagine find solution for native apps works as well on web or vice versa, very different
Thei on Circa: Have talked to them, adding metadata to bits they have, ability to reference them and reconstitute them
Zach: Organize around obsessions. If people follow enough threads, it may make a sweater. We’re never claiming to be whole story (from ethics point of view)