It’s been nearly seven years—an entire generation in Internet Time—since Jeff Eaton published “The Battle for the Body Field.” The post beautifully sums up the central problem in producing online narrative content:
This fields-and-templates approach works great for content that follows predictable patterns, like product information sheets, photo galleries, and podcasts. It’s at the heart of NPR’s successful “Create Once, Publish Everywhere” system, and it’s hard to find a CMS or web publishing tool that doesn’t offer some way to model different types of content.
But Team Chunk has a deadly weakness. When narrative text is mixed with embedded media…
The Ship of Theseus is not a particularly good book. But it is a worthwhile experience.
At one level, it’s a straightforward work of fiction—a mediocre literary novel, written by the mysterious and reclusive author V.M. Strake, about a the weird journey of a man who is shanghaied onto the titular ship of Theseus.
But Straka doesn’t exist, and the story of the voyage isn’t the main—or even the most interesting—story in the book.
That one is the story about the fictional readers of this fictional book by a fictional author—readers who are trying to uncover the real identity of…
We want to show that all of our research themes are connected.
This was perhaps the most exciting line in any think tank project brief I’d ever read (I don’t get out much). The REMINDER project (Role of European Mobility and its Impacts in Narratives, Debates and European Union Reforms) approached Soapbox to discuss building a toolkit that would help wrap up the fifty or so reports and briefs that the programme had generated across five major areas.
When it comes to intra-European Union (EU) migration, policy, media coverage, public attitudes, and actual migration statistics interact in complex and important…
Everybody hates Sharepoint.
That’s as close to a truth universally acknowledged as anyone has managed this side of Bath. We hate Sharepoint with good reason: it tries to do everything, and as a result it does nothing well and saddles users with a complex, confusing user experience.
The sad truth is that a lot of people see their CMS exactly the same way. And, honestly, they’re not wrong—and they’re not wrong for similar reasons. Most CMSs try to cram two fundamentally different types of activities into a single thing.
I’m not a particularly sophisticated viewer of art. But when I…
Nearly every website RFP I read seems to contain the words “content hub for [topic]” or “platform for [topic].” I get the allure. You have some of the world’s leading experts on your topic. You produce great content on your topic. Why not curate all the best stuff? That way everyone can just come right to your site to learn whatever they might need.
It’s appealing. But it rests upon a misunderstanding of just how thoroughly the Internet has changed things.
Ben Thompson’s Aggregation Theory is a powerful framework for understanding business in the age of the Internet. If you…
Google’s new Duplex seems to have struck a nerve. Twitter has been awash in charges that the whole project is unethical.
The backstory: Duplex is an AI that can make phone calls for you. But it’s how it makes those calls that is raising eyebrows. See, Duplex very carefully imitates real human speech—including adding verbal tics like “um” and “uh.” Here’s a sample:
I’ll admit that that’s pretty uncanny. But I’m not sure I see how it’s unethical.
Most versions of the argument that Duplex is unethical take the following form:
It probably won’t surprise anyone that I spent my formative years reading a mountain of things about elves and spaceships and superheroes. Yes, I am a nerd. And this nerd is really excited about Avengers: Infinity War.
I’ve spent more hours than I care to admit re-reading recaps of all the Marvel films, looking back through the Infinity War comics, and sharing theories about who makes it out alive.
It’s also led me to do some thinking about just how sprawling the Marvel Cinematic Universe has become. …
Digital publishing stands at a crossroads. With ad-supported content looking more-and-more like a dead-end (at least for everyone who isn’t Google or Facebook), digital publishers will need a new business model. The two most promising alternatives thus far:
Ev Williams (of Medium and Twitter fame) recently outlined the two options ($). For “outlets that are big in terms of content volume/frequency or that have superfans,” subscriptions are an appealing option. That is, if you’ve the New York Times’ output or the New Yorker’s distinctive style, you’ll have little trouble convincing a lot of readers to…
I’ve spent the past few years arguing that the web enables a fundamentally different way to communicate, one that is far less linear than the type of story that has been my stock-in-trade for the better part of two decades. That’s led me to do a bit of thinking about the nature of storytelling itself. Specifically, I’ve been puzzling over two questions:
I’m going to look at the first of those two questions here. I’ll return to the second in a later post.
I was never particularly good at making mixtapes-my teenage musical tastes were too uncultured, my town too small to support more than your standard country/classic rock/top-40 radio stations, and my working-class parents too poor to support much of a music-buying habit.
(For you youngins, “mixtapes” are those pieces of Old Earth technology that Star Lord carries around in GotG. They’re like worse-sounding Spotify playlists if Spotify made you listen to the entirety of every song as you added it to your list.)
None of that stopped me from spending entirely too much time pasting songs together onto off-brand cassettes from…