Recent Posts

What makes “the world’s best designed website”

16 minute read , Posted on April 16, 2012, by Carl V. Lewis

With the Pulitzer Price announcements coming up later this afternoon, you’d think I’d be writing about whose up for the “Best Deadline Reporting” or “Best Public Service Journalism” prizes. But instead I want to talk about a different media award doled out during the past week:’s designation as the “world’s best designed website” by the Society for News Design. Put simply, I can’t say I disagree.

Critique: “Agreement Groups in the United States Senate”

6 minute read , Posted on April 06, 2012, by Carl V. Lewis

Take a look at this fascinating visualization of U.S. senate agreement groups made by Ph.D. student Adrian Friggeri. Using a complex agreement algorithim based upon data from, the visualization displays how much all 100 senators of each U.S. Congress during the last 15 years have crossed the aisle –– or stuck to party lines –– on senate-floor votes.

Response to Norman, “Emotional Design”

5 minute read , Posted on April 06, 2012, by Carl V. Lewis

Good aesthetics are more than just fluff when it comes to design. They are a core part of a product’s functionality. Such is the argument Donald A. Norman makes in his insightful 2005 book Emotional Design: Why We Love (or Hate) Everyday Things. For Norman, attractive things work better by boosting the mood of the user and therefore allowing him or her to think more clearly and operate it more efficiently.

Respons to Saffer, “Designing for Interaction”

7 minute read , Posted on April 06, 2012, by Carl V. Lewis

Interactive designer Don Saffer artfully captures both the practical and the theoretical aspects of his profession in his 2006 book Designing for Interaction: Creating Smart Applications for Clever Devices. From its title, Saffer’s book may sound like a simple “how-to” guide to creating web apps with interactivity. Yet while it is certainly that to an extent, the book is more broadly a treatise and exploration of the ideology and terminology behind interactive design.

On Richard Boarman’s “Bubble Trees: The Visualization of Hierarchical Structure”

3 minute read , Posted on April 06, 2012, by Carl V. Lewis

In his brief two-page paper “Bubble Trees: The Visualization of Hierarchical Structure,” Richard Boardman proposes a new type of interactive presentation of hierarchical data that he calls the bubble tree. To bolster his argument, Boardman points out the difficulties inherent in the traditional “tree” structure, which suffers from the “breadth versus depth” problem by leading to information overload and taking up too much screen real estate. As a solution, he proposes a clickable bubble tree that leads to child...

Critique: “Salubrious Nation: a game-y look at U.S. health”

10 minute read , Posted on April 04, 2012, by Carl V. Lewis

In keeping with our recent weekly reading about the growing ‘gamification’ of data, I wanted to focus my critique this week on a map-styled data-driven game made my a group of researchers at Rutgers University called Salubrious Nation. The game attempts to engage users more deeply with public health data by luring them in with an addictive system of points and rewards.

Why news organizations should stop differeniating blogs from articles

13 minute read , Posted on April 03, 2012, by Carl V. Lewis

Andy Boyle (@andymboyle) of The Boston Globe made an┬áimpassioned┬áplea to news organizations earlier this week that they stop differentiating between blogs and articles because they’re both equally forms of content. Someone’s been needing to put this into writing for a while now, and I’m glad Andy said it so eloquently.


8 minute read , Posted on April 02, 2012, by Carl V. Lewis

Lately I’ve been trying to get my feet wet with Django, an open-source Python web framework that’s well-suited to producing complex news apps under  tight deadlines. I haven’t had enough free time yet to get into the nitty gritty of it, but I’m getting there slowly. What first piqued my interest in Django was a brilliant news app I ran across a couple of months ago called Curbwise, which was built with Django by the news developer...

On the importance of localism

less than 1 minute read , Posted on April 02, 2012, by Carl V. Lewis

A decade before the rise of the Internet set in motion the disruption of legacy news business models, Kaniss foresaw the growing need for local and regional news to unite increasingly fragmented, suburbanized communities.