Amidst Confusion, the Times Finds a Way to Scoop

The Times did an interesting piece on their CMS, Scoop, yesterday.

It’s platform-agnostic. To me this is absolutely critical when you are providing content to a desktop-ish Web version, along with other apps and who knows what else in the future. There should be a simple way to provide a complete version of a piece and shave off those bits that are not needed for other uses. Seems like they’re getting there.

It also allows inline changes and comments, Word-style. This is one area where I think Word almost serves some credit for providing what its users want, as does the Times (here’s hoping it is not as crash as Word when it deals with a lot of edits.

http://open.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/06/17/scoop-a-glimpse-into-the-nytimes-cms/

Old cross-post: Jonah Peretti & Buzzfeed

Selling you to you, by Buzzfeed’s Jonah Peretti
Jonah Peretti, founder of Buzzfeed, essentially provided the blueprint for that site in a paper he wrote in 1996, essentially saying that the site that builds an identity for a user that happens to be a near exact reflection of that user stands to make a bunch of money.

Buzzfeed creates a very, very large number of entertaining, image-filled, reflections of a very large number of demographics: “hijabis,” “naturally skinny people,” “people who grew up in the Texas heat,” (these gathered from a view at around now).

So, by providing a huge library of relatable things, it gets clicks. Brands, products, whatever you’re selling, can of course do the same thing.

This little nugget has set off a lot of reaction, especially among users who have been interested in the virtual world and who have seen its evolution in progress.

A by no means comprehensive catalog:

Critical Theory on the Buzzfeed Guy
Metafilter on Peretti
TechCrunch: Survival of the Youest
Vox on Peretti

Old cross-post: Respecting your customers.

This last evening I was in the neighborhood, and decided to take a look at ABC Carpet and Home. For those of you who don’t know this store, it offers fabulous, and fabulously expensive, furniture and various sundries from designers all over the world. It’s a huge place, taking up something close to a city block and several floors.

I was just looking at some towels. You see, they were running a small summer sale, and I am in the market for some towels, and I really like those waffle-weave-type ones they have there. They remind me of Italy.

Anyway, it turns out that it’s really hard to find a price tag on towels at ABC. They range from not-cheap to insanely expensive, and you have to ask someone for the price on some if not all towels, and also ask if something is on sale or not.

Why?

Is it the “if you have to ask” thing? Are the intentionally being intimidating? What about the designers where there is a clear price list listed right there? Why is that only available with the less expensive ones? Is there some aura they are going for, of mystery?

Because it just made me tired. I didn’t want any towels after that experience. Why stores obscure prices escapes me. It’s easier for everyone if the store just trusts that the customer can make his or her own decision. It doesn’t have to be a blaring sign, just a place you can look to find out how much something costs. This allows someone to say, “well, that’s very nice but I can’t afford it” or “$900 for a towel? I can’t afford not to get it!” as they please.

Make things a little easier for people and you might be surprised at how much they appreciate it, and you.

Content strategy folks.

Sophistry is intended to become a resource for Content Strategists and their ilk. For now, I’m just building it, and there are many wonderful resources that are more fully baked.

A List Apart has been more or less on the forefront of the good stuff, with its Content Strategy section, and for those of us who write, the Writing section.

There’s some good work from the Razorfish folks at Scatter/Gather. Michael Barnwell and Rachel Lovinger I’m familiar with, and I’m sure the rest of the folks are good too.

Kristina Halvorson has been at the game for a while over at Brain Traffic.

Karen McGrane is another longtime CS person. She’s smart.

Erin Kissane wrote the book on CS, or at least one of them, and a good one too.

One list that’s useful for everyone.

1. Stop making lists.

Lists are very popular, and one of the things that the marketing geniuses always tell you to do is to make your content into lists.

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