“The problem for the tech industry corporations is that RSS disempowers them,” writes Dave Winer, the forefather of RSS. “It makes them commodities.” Perhaps this is why Twitter stopped officially supporting RSS earlier this year. Who knows.

In any event, it is still possible to construct RSS feeds for Twitter users, lists, and searches. Dave’s piece and a few questions I’ve received recently inspired me to document those methods. These instructions are intended for savvy web users who don’t want to mess around with code. In all cases, replace stuff like {username} to suit your needs. Read the rest of this entry »

I’m very excited to share this news: we just posted the first of a few job openings at WSJ.com this year. You can click here to apply; email me with any questions. The job description follows:


The Wall Street Journal seeks a social-media editor to join its growing team of journalists responsible for engaging users on new platforms. We’re looking for someone who thinks creatively about the social web and how the Journal fits within it.

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Sparklines, according to Edward Tufte, who invented them, are “small, high-resolution graphics embedded in a context of words, numbers, images.” Among designers, there’s general agreement that sparklines are fantastic for conveying time-series data, particularly financial and economic information, in primarily text-based media like stock tables.

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I recently placed Emphasis on this blog. It’s a fantastic deep-linking tool by New York Times developer Michael Donohoe. Installation was easy, thanks to a WordPress plugin by Ben Balter. Now, anyone can link to a specific paragraph of my blog and highlight any sentences.

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Like Frank Chimero, I recently bought a 13″ MacBook Air. He’s happy with the decision, and so am I. (There’s a neglected, company-issued iPad sleeping day-and-night in the corner of my living room, stirring only for the occasional push notification.) Chimero also goes into great length about his setup, which is one of those things, like interior design and typography, that I like to obsess about in theory but not in practice.

Really, though, I’m linking to the post for his long list of Mac software, much of which I’m downloading right now. It reminded me how much I now rely on web apps for work that used to start in the Dock. But native software is cool, too, and maybe this shiny new laptop — and, of course, the Mac App Store — will inspire me to dot-dmg.

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My former boss Josh Benton gave a talk in 2008 that argued for the narrative power of real-time reporting. Late in the 50-minute presentation, he turned to a UPI teletype printout from John F. Kennedy’s assassination and the raw, arresting copy that was transmitted soon after the chaos began in the Grassy Knoll.

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In 2010, I lived in the same place for all 12 months, the first time I’d done that since 2002. It was the first year since 1999 in which I spent no time in Boston. My rent tripled from 2009, but the median household income of my new neighborhood was 44% lower than my old one. I ate at the four Italian restaurants around my apartment 39 times. When I bought lunch on workdays, I spent an average of $6.94.

I ended the year subscribed to 806 RSS feeds and following 832 Twitter accounts. I sent 2,387 emails from my personal address in 2010, 39% of which were to the same three people. At work, I received 39,677 emails, or 109 a day. I performed 7,939 Google searches, and my third-most-frequent query was “em dash.” I tweeted 1,781 times.

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I’ve been playing around with Storify, and it’s working pretty well for me: the blog posts I want to write are increasingly hatched on Twitter and photo-sharing sites. This is another one of those, so if you’re inside an RSS reader, please click through for the Storify embed.

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As Clay Shirky wrote his new book on distributed information systems, he joked about calling it LOLcats as Soulcraft. That was a play on Matthew B. Crawford’s Shop Class as Soulcraft, which argues for the intellectual value of manual labor. Shirky’s point seemed to be that captioning cat photos with pidgin English — or, just as likely, editing Wikipedia — is enjoyed as a collective act of creation akin to an Amish barn raising. Yes! Then again, he was being facetious.

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You can’t achieve this

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