June link round up
Here are few quick links to things I’ve been thinking about recently:
Jason Goldstein - The Dark Side of Bespoke Cover Stories (And How We Tried to Solve It)
My former colleague at The Atlantic, Jason, writes about how they do custom templates for feature stories:
To solve this problem, we made a small tool called Enhancements.
The way web frameworks (i.e., Django) render a page is by taking a context (information from the database, like the article’s text, authors, and images) and applying it to a template, producing HTML. Enhancements provides a way to modify the context just before the page renders. This means:
The version of the article we keep in the database is clean. If you take the customizations away it looks like any other big story, complete with large art, but none of the bespoke styles.
On the web, for as long as we choose to maintain it, I can do any transformations I want.
That’s given us the freedom to layer headlines over photos, make custom pullquotes that fit the tone of the piece, tweak caption styles, and other small design changes that help capture the tone of the story.
Lately, I’ve really been getting religion around the idea that the database should always be kept pristine, and if you need to do some sort of denormalization or a translation layer, you should store it in memcache or otherwise away from the rest of your data.
Ashley Nelson-Hornstein - On Heroes
Tells the fascinating story of Annie Easley’s career at NASA.
Code Switch - Coding While Black: Hacking The Future Of The Tech Industry
“I was actually in a meeting — a very important meeting,” he begins. “And I get a call from my resident director and says you need to leave your meeting now and you need to come down to the Atlanta Check Cashing outlet on Forsyth Street.”
One of his Code Start students had tried to cash his monthly $500 stipend, but the clerk suspected the postal money order was fake. She took his identification and told him to call the police on himself.
When Sampson arrived, the 19-year-old was in handcuffs in the back of a police car. And when Sampson spoke up for his student, officers immediately began to grill him about the money order. “And so they were like, ‘Do you have the receipt?’ At first I was like, I don’t have to prove that I purchased something. But here I am pulling out a receipt on Forsyth Street in downtown Atlanta, showing these officers that I purchased all of these money orders, so I was a little uncomfortable doing that.”
After 30 minutes of back and forth, the student was released from police custody. He got his money order and ID back, but the incident shook him so much that he dropped out of the program.