Hi. I'm Adam Pash. I worked at Lifehacker for seven years, left two years ago, and have now returned to the amniotic embrace of Gawker Media (meaning Tommy owes Nick $50). And, thanks to the Great Editorial Restructuring of 2015, I'm heading up a new thing called Editorial Labs. The purpose of this
post story is to help everyone understand what we're hoping to do with Editorial Labs and how you can use this fledgling department to be happier, to be more productive, and to do better things.
In short, my goal is to serve as a tech resource who lives and works directly inside editorial, completely distinct from Gawker Tech. So, where the Gawker Tech team's focus is (for good reason) set squarely on Kinja, my focus is on you, the editors and writers, and, more specifically, on building things to make your jobs easier and your stories better.
Those "things" will mostly fit into one of two categories:
- Reader-facing apps, analysis, and interactive whatsits
- Internal editorial tools
What reader-facing apps/interactives might look like
You may have noticed in recent years that some stories can be told better, made richer, or more powerful when they include more than just words. Images, for example, are pretty cool.
You may also have noticed that some enterprising content producers are telling stories with interactive graphs and charts! Polls and quizzes! Bots and... bots!
So on one hand, I want you to think about how an interactive element could make an okay story great. Last year, for example, Deadspin ran this post with a simple interactive element that engaged readers in a simple bit of research. (I helped a little with the coding.) Rather than spoon-feeding the readers a perfunctory rant about coded language and athletes, the readers got to discover the point for themselves.
These things don't always have to be interactive. For another quick Deadspin-related example, last year Tommy came to me with a cache of IP addresses from a poll they'd conducted, and I wrote a script to associate each IP with a location, which turned into this follow-up post.
Computers don't get bored, and together we can get the computers to perform a lot of interesting and tedious data collection and/or analysis in the service of a story.
We're also not limited to things that live inside Kinja. Some larger ideas we've been floating:
- A revived Gawker Stalker app
- A tool to track changes to stories on any web site
- A tool to track deleted tweets from accounts of our choosing
Anyway, you get the point: If you've ever thought "It would be great if I could do X for this story, but I don't know how," you should talk to me about it. I'm expecting a slow start as we collect ideas and test things out, but as we collectively get better at identifying and executing these ideas, my hope is that we can do a lot of cool things in relatively little time.
What internal tools might look like
Apart from reader-facing widgets and apps, I'll also be building tools to make your lives less painful, and in the coming week or two will begin this process by meeting with siteleads and deputies to get a sense of your biggest frustrations. I'm not going to be asking for Kinja feature requests (that's for the tech team), but I will be asking questions about workflow, time-sinks, etc.
EXAMPLE! I'm sure you guys love it because we still use it, but when I was editing Lifehacker, I really hated SocialFlow, and I made a Chrome extension for my staff that let us edit and schedule Facebook/Twitter posts from the comfort of GED (GED!).
I also built a tool for assigning and managing stories that was integrated in Lifehacker's team chat app (which I also built but was not as good as Slack).
Point is: The shitty parts of writing and editing should be easier than they currently are, and I promise to make all of your lives less painful.
So what should I do?
Glad you asked! Email me (labs at gawker) any time you think of something that I may be able to help you with. If you're interested in an interactive or something editorial, include:
- A quick overview of your idea
- If possible, include examples of similar things you've seen before
If you're sharing an annoyance, you don't need to have a solution. I just want to know what's making your work life more unpleasant than it needs to be. Feel free to share every tedious thing you do (related to your work at Gawker Media). For real. Err on the side of oversharing, and I'll tell you when you've gone too far.