A few changes on Boston.com

February 5, 2013

You may have noticed a few changes on the Boston.com homepage today. 



For longtime Boston.com users, the most notable development is our new Boston.com logo – a more modern and compact design than the logo we’ve used since 1995. We’ve tested versions of this logo with our users and the end result was a bigger version of the same font, without the wave effect. We’re confident this graphic will translate more effectively across all our platforms – desktop, mobile, print and, eventually, on our newspaper delivery trucks.

At the same time, we’ve moved a few elements around and added a few new featured positions in the left and middle columns of the homepage. You’ll notice you can share content straight from our homepage more easily now. You can also easily follow Boston.com on Twitter and Facebook.

Our producers and product teams continually monitor a host of metrics on how our content is performing, including what is being shared and tweeted. So it was important to us to feature content going viral and promote easy sharing. For that reason, you will regularly see a “trending on social” content feature that highlights our most shared content.

These are just a few of the changes you’ll see on Boston.com in 2013, as we continue to expand our content, video offerings and social media connections. We simply want to provide you, our reader, with the best possible experience, across all your screens.

Jeff Moriarty
General Manager, Boston.com
Vice President, Digital Products, The Boston Globe

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Spinning off SNAP

February 1, 2013

By Joanna S. Kao, January 2013 GlobeLab intern

Today is the last day of my month-long internship at GlobeLab. Coming in at the beginning of the month, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I spent last summer interning at WaPo Labs, a similar group at the Washington Post, but I was pretty sure that apart from the name, things would be pretty different.

For my internship, I worked on redesigning and refactoring parts of SNAP, a database and visualization of Instagram photos around Boston, and created a spin-off project using it. I named the spin-off app “FoodPic.kr” — the app takes a location as an input and then displays a panoply of Instagrammed food images taken around that area (I got hungry pretty often this month in the lab). The idea is that people can use the app to find a place to eat based on how the food looks and the type of people who frequent it.



Interning at GlobeLab didn’t mean that I just sat (or stood) at my Steelcase adjustable standing desk being a code monkey — we also had great ideation sessions on our wall, newly painted with ideapaint. I probably shouldn’t give away all of our ideas, but if you check back on GlobeLab once in awhile, I think you’ll be rather delighted with the projects in progress.

It’s been a fun month, and I’m going to miss getting to brainstorm about new innovative apps with incredibly creative people every day. Fortunately, I’ll be back again as an intern at the Boston Globe (although not at Globe Lab) this summer as a data visualization/news developer intern!

Joanna S. Kao is a senior majoring in computer science and minoring in writing at MIT. She interned at Globe Lab for the month of January. Visit her website or follow her on Twitter for more information.

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February 1, 2013

Mapping the Globe - One of our first collaborations with the MIT Center for Civic Media. A look at the geographic distribution of the Globe’s news coverage.

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Least popular searches of 2012

December 31, 2012

By Joel Abrams, Senior Product Manager

I’m a contrarian, so instead of the usual top list, I decided to put together a bottom list. 

Note: All of these are actual search terms that users typed into the search box on boston.com in 2012, but they aren’t the true bottom. Our analytics system only let me get the top 100,000 search terms, and many are actually quite prosaic. These are my selection of the most obscure, random, and unlikely to yield useful results.

What’s the most popular search on Boston.com? Same as it was last year: obituaries.  The most popular topical term of the year? Liberty Mutual.

Bonus popularity contest: the most popular entry on our Big Picture photoblog was the Russia in color, a century ago and least popular was the death of Cambodia’s King Sihanouk.

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Newsroom is perfect petri dish for data and narrative

December 22, 2012

By Alvin Chang, data visualization


It took weeks to clean up homicide data for our Bowdoin-Geneva project. I was ready to map it and move on. But I was unsure about one of the data point, so I looked it up in the Globe archives. I found this 1993 story about Jose Lizardo’s murder:

They followed the well-trod path of generations of immigrants before them, three brothers, journeying to Boston from afar to open a corner variety store in a time-tested pursuit of the American dream.

But on Saturday night, two of them came face to face with a nation’s nightmare: a handgun-toting thief who walked into their Dorchester shop, demanded all their cash and fired shots that within hours would end one of their lives.

For me, that story — which was written by our new boss, Brian McGrory — turned a dot on the map into a person with family, friends and a life narrative. It reminded me that, too often, we forget what the dots on our maps represent. That realization helped me transform a conventional crime map into this interactive.

It’s not always easy to mix data and narrative, but there are three things that made this possible in the newsroom.

1. Resources: As a reporter, one of my biggest challenges was introducing contextual metrics into my stories; as a data journalist, one of my biggest challenges has been humanizing the numbers.

Thankfully, newspapers archives are full of stories that humanize the world. We often forget about these resources because so much of our job is about getting new things. But one of the biggest breakthroughs in this project was finding the incredible breadth of archived material that can give life to our storytelling.

2. Willingness to do great journalism: At this point, we had to go into the archives, find these stories and re-publish them to BostonGlobe.com. It was a monumental task — something I could never have done alone. But to my delight, everyone I approached understood the importance of humanizing this data. Head librarian Lisa Tuite searched and compiled the stories; the wonderful Jeff Fish spent time putting the stories on BostonGlobe.com. At least three others collaborated on this project.

3. Easy presentation: To display these stories, we took advantage of our responsive website. We embedded stories from our own site, and because it adjusts to the width of your screen, it took little effort to make them presentable. It’s the

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