Little known fact: The Globe offers free desks to startups. Yep, free. In a cool space, too.
We can support teams of up to several people in our Globe Lab, which is a neat area full of technologists, gadgets, product managers, etc. Down one hallway is the main newsroom. Down another are our presses.
The building is truly unique and amazing and you have unfettered 24 hour access, a phone and internet for nada zero.
We are located at 135 Morrissey Blvd. in Boston. We’re a 10 minute walk from the JFK/UMass stop on the red line, which is 20 minutes from Kendall. The South Boston beaches are also only a 10 minute walk away
We maintain this space as a way to stay connected with Boston’s co-working-mad startup community, so it’s not necessary that your startup has a strict news focus. Though some connection to information and/or communities would be nice.
You could come for a day or bring your team and stay for a year.
Here’s a recent WBUR profile of the space you’d be working in:
Interested? email Chris Marstall at cmarstall at globe.com!
The most recent update (3.6.2) to the Boston.com iPhone app includes a relatively new technology called “Push Notifications.” These notifications are similar to the text messages most of us use on our phones, but are tied directly to individual mobile apps.
So for instance, Thursday morning, when the latest state unemployment figures where released, we sent the message “State unemployment rate falls to 6 percent” and linked to the story in the business section of our iPhone app.
We know how easy it is to become overwhelmed with the flurry of text messages and e-mail alerts you already receive. So, to make Boston.com’s alerts more useful we encourage you enable or disable them by topic. The directions are below, but you can choose to receive alerts from any combination of four topics: News, Sports, Business or Entertainment.
By using these general topic filters, we hope to be able to increase the number of relevant alerts you receive, while limiting those that are not of interest. However, if you turn off all of the topics, you will still be able to receive the very occasional urgent alert that the Boston.com editors feel merits a general broadcast.
In the next few weeks we will continue to sparingly use the broadcast alert method, while you select your topic preferences. But before the end of the month we will be using the topic filters almost exclusively. So, if you are interested in politics and Red Sox updates, make sure to turn on “News” and “Sports” for instance.
In case you are wondering, unlike text alerts, Push Notifications do not add to your cell phone bill; they are included in your regular data plan.
If you do not have the iPhone app installed, you can get it in Apple’siTunes store for free. Our Push Notifications are not yet available on Boston.com for Android devices, but we anticipate including them in future updates to that app.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact our customer support team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To set your alert preferences by channel:
Go to settings: Boston.com
Select any combination of News, Sports, Business, or Entertainment alerts.
Or, in the Boston.com app go to More: Settings: Push Notification
To turn off all push alerts from Boston.com:
Go to your device’s home screen and then Settings: Notifications: Boston.com. Turn “Notification Center” off to disable all alerts from the app.
“The Boston Globe sees the new domain extensions as a great opportunity to organize and promote Web sites for our innovative city, and is pleased to have the endorsement of the city of Boston for this application,” said Christopher Mayer, publisher of the Globe.
Mayer said that in the coming months, the Globe and the city will be revealing plans to manage the .boston domain “for the benefit of our city, its businesses, organizations and residents.”
Note that the application specifies that you will be unable to apply for tokyo.boston and other counter-intuitive geographic domains, but most of the rest of the rules have yet to be determined.
By Matt Carroll
Sometimes bar charts are enough to tell the data story. But not always. Sometimes it pays to think more creatively and to move away from traditional ways of displaying data.
Rahul Bhargava, an MIT Media Lab researcher, told an appreciative crowd of about 100 that using data to tell a story well can be a complex process.
Bhargava said people creating data visualizations need to have a keen understanding of their audience and how they will perceive the information.
A board of directors in dark suits may be perfectly at home seeing an array of bar charts on a complicated topic; a more general audience may need to be coaxed along several steps to understand the same info, he said.
Bhargava’s topic was Data Therapy: Creative Ways to Tell Your Story with Data. The meetup was sponsored by the Boston chapter of Hacks/Hackers, a two-year-old group dedicated to uniting media and technologists around topics of common interest. It was held at the MIT Media Lab in Cambridge last week.
Bhargava took the media’s tried-and-true formula of “who, what, when, where, why and how” and turned it into a lesson in creating an informed visualization.
“Who” is knowing your audience. “What” is about finding and characterizing the data. “Why” involves identifying goals, such as informing the public, changing public policy, or growing a group. “When” and “Where” – what are the settings for the visualization and what is the medium that will be used? And “How” involves the technique, such as software or a physical demonstration.
He encouraged people to break away from the common data viz routes – bar charts and pie charts — and think about totally different ways to present data.
For instance, a photograph of a soda bottle, partially filled with white sugar, illustrated the health hazards of soda.
Another person created bar charts in a park by taping sheets of plastic to a brick wall, illustrating how much people liked various local parks. It was simple, easy to understand, and was perfect placed for its intended audience – people at the park.
He also showed several effective traditional charts. A line chart by a Canadian water company showed how water usage – through toilet flushes – spiked between periods of an important hockey game.
The next Hacks/Hackers meetup, “Design for Coders: SND + HH visual workshop,” is scheduled for June 16.
On Sunday, we completed our two-week extended mobile hack event, the Boston Innovation Challenge, that brought together almost 100 people to work together to build something that would “help make Boston better.”
We were interested to see how giving teams two weeks instead of two days would change the dynamic of the event and the quality of the hacks, and we were not disappointed.
Eleven teams presented their concepts, following on four themes that we suggested. Some of the highlights:
Winning top accolades from the judges was a team from the company Intrepid Pursuits who built a native application that shows you bands playing in your area, with a minimal interface and allows you to hear their music, see a photo and flip through to your options. CTO Matt Bridges showed this visual and audio approach to finding something to do really stood out as an elegant idea that was well executed.
In a tie for second place were two teams working on applications for the American Red Cross — Red Alert, from John Rice and Tea who built a weather app that alerts people of dangerous weather and links them directly to a preparedness checklist with links to Red Cross information, training materials and Red Cross shelter locations.
And a Red Cross Facebook App from Geordie Kaytes and Team that helps the Red Cross promote disaster preparedness with a fun and engaging way for people to build and share the contents of their “go-bag”, or portable evacuation kit.
The third place team chosen by the judges was Culture Near Me, from Tom Morris and Chris Marstall, which uses the Boston Globe API & a database of public art locations to create a mobile app that will tell you what culture is around you in Boston.
Here are some comments from some participants.
“It’s great to be chosen the Best of BIC. I really enjoyed having two weeks to work on our app. It allowed us to focus on small UX touches and polish, which would have been overlooked with a shorter timescale. It also allowed us to collaborate with some team members who weren’t available for the first weekend. I’d definitely be interested in more “extended” hackathons.”- Matt Bridges, CTO, Intrepid Pursuits, http://intrepid-dev.com
“Boston is home to some of the best live venues in the nation but unless you are following a specific band, it can be tiresome to research the different groups playing at various clubs around town. As a member of the music scene in Boston I challenged the participants of the Boston Innovation Challenge to create a mobile application that could promote independent concerts. I was amazed to see my simple and vague presentation lead to the creation of a beautiful mobile app that uses one’s location to see all of the shows happening tonight. By combining the data of Jambase and Spotify, music fans can preview music before deciding where to go. The designers and developers of all the Teams displayed exceptional professionalism and commitment to community problem solving. The power of collaboration was apparent at BIC and I was thrilled to be a part of this intensely creative event.Jake Pardee - BIC Judge, student at Berklee College of Music - JakePardee.com
“I am so excited other folks get that “innovation” and “American Red Cross” go together like Charles and River or perhaps “Boston” and “Innovation.” Our participation in the Boston Innovation Challenge has really stirred up some great collaborations we know will help serve our humanitarian mission.” - Kat Powers, director of communications, American Red Cross of Eastern Massachusetts.
Many thanks to all for attending and we’ll keep you posted on our next event.
Jeff Moriarty, VP digital products, The Boston Globe.
By Matt Carroll
Online mapping has exploded in popularity over the past few years, driven by the easy-to-use of new tools. Almost anyone can quickly learn how to turn information into an informative map or post a map on their site from one of the many companies specializing in data visualizations.
A crowd of more than 30 journalists and technologists got a glimpse of some of those tools Tuesday night at a meetup called “Using mapping to inform the world.”
SeeClickFix allows people to easily report problems such as a potholes or graffiti to city officials, said Kevin Donohue, a community manager with the Connecticut-based company. The information is also displayed on maps that allow users to comment.
The app is popular with city officials, who can see which problems are generating the most complaints, and with online news sites. Boston.com has used the application in its hyperlocal section.
Donohue said residents in Oakland, Calif. used the app to leave 300 comments about a dangerous intersection, which led the city to make changes.
The MAPC, a regional planning agency for Greater Boston, takes a different approach. The agency, through its Metro Boston DataCommon, makes reams of data available to residents, who can simply view it or use it to create their own sophisticated maps. (No data uploads are allowed at this point.)
Some of the maps have been incredibly revealing, said Holly St. Clair, director of data services. One user mashed together income and the cost of housing and transportation to make a revealing map.
The MBTA Budget Calculator was created Christian Spanring, a developer with the group, and allowed users to experiment with trying to fix the MBTA’s budget by adjusting a number of costs and revenues.
The meetup, run through the Boston chapter of Hacks/Hackers, was held at Northeastern University and was organized by Dan Kennedy, an assistant professor of journalism at Northeastern and author of Media Nation, the online journalism blog.