Can Technology Innovation Save The New York Times?

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Video and slides synchronized, mp3 and slide download available at http://bit.ly/12BvrmR.

Marc Frons discusses the New York Times’ digital subscription model. Rajiv Pant shares their experiences transitioning to continuous delivery, and using NodeJS, Scala, cloud and big data. Filmed at qconnewyork.com.

Marc Frons was named Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer of The New York Times Company in March 2012. Rajiv Pant is Chief Technology Officer & VP at The New York Times.

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Can Technology Innovation Save The New York Times?

  1. 1. Marc Frons | @marcfrons | CIO, New York Times Rajiv Pant | @rajivpant | CTO, New York Times Can Technology Innovation Save The New York Times?
  2. 2. InfoQ.com: News & Community Site • 750,000 unique visitors/month • Published in 4 languages (English, Chinese, Japanese and Brazilian Portuguese) • Post content from our QCon conferences • News 15-20 / week • Articles 3-4 / week • Presentations (videos) 12-15 / week • Interviews 2-3 / week • Books 1 / month Watch the video with slide synchronization on InfoQ.com! http://www.infoq.com/presentations /innovation-new-york-times
  3. 3. Presented at QCon New York www.qconnewyork.com Purpose of QCon - to empower software development by facilitating the spread of knowledge and innovation Strategy - practitioner-driven conference designed for YOU: influencers of change and innovation in your teams - speakers and topics driving the evolution and innovation - connecting and catalyzing the influencers and innovators Highlights - attended by more than 12,000 delegates since 2007 - held in 9 cities worldwide
  4. 4. Core Purpose Enhance society by creating, collecting and distributing high quality news, information and entertainment
  5. 5. In the Internet era, technology not only enables great journalism; it is integral to the creation of great journalism
  6. 6. The Internet has forever redefined how journalists tell stories, how they discover news, how they interact with their audience – and how their audience interacts with them
  7. 7. Journalism & technology have become inexorably intertwined
  8. 8. And yet… Until very recently, most media companies viewed technology as a cost center, and as a service organization
  9. 9. But at the most successful Internet companies, the engineers are in charge
  10. 10. How do you create a successful technology culture in a non-technology company?
  11. 11. It’s a lot easier to create a culture than it is to change one
  12. 12. The State of NYT Digital 7 Years Ago  Less than 20 engineers  Separated from the company & print newspaper  Worked in a separate physical location  Little interaction with newsroom
  13. 13. Separate from legacy business? How do you create a successful technology culture in a non- technology company?
  14. 14. Separate from legacy business? Integrate into the business? or… How do you create a successful technology culture in a non- technology company?
  15. 15. We chose to integrate into the business Initially, merged print and digital ad sales forces We knew the day would come when we would need to unify our tech teams as well… Digital Technology remained independent from the rest of the company - philosophies of the Digital team and their print counterparts were too divergent Eventually merged print and digital marketing and circulation
  16. 16. Growing NYT Digital
  17. 17. …we built our own CMS
  18. 18. …we built our own CMS
  19. 19. …we Built the Interactive News Team
  20. 20. Aron Pilhofer
  21. 21. Jeremy Ashkenas
  22. 22. …we created a new culture
  23. 23. Hack Days Monthly, on Fridays Internal AND external participants Pick whatever you want to work on Hack together with journalists, engineers Present to the group
  24. 24. 100% Days
  25. 25. Times Open Times-hosted monthly technology forum
  26. 26. Developer NYTimes.com
  27. 27. code.nytimes.com
  28. 28. NYT Open Blog
  29. 29. Open Source Science Fair
  30. 30. Beta620
  31. 31. …we built our own User Generated Content systems
  32. 32. Stuffy
  33. 33. Community
  34. 34. Recommendation Engine
  35. 35. Evaluating Rec. Algorithms Precision Recall F1 Factor of Impr. (Logged In) Factor of Impr. (Anonymous) Rec Eng 2.0 0.07% 0.32% 0.11% 1.00x 1.00x UBCF 0.14% 0.65% 0.24% 2.05x 2.00x Harry Potter (Naïve) 0.26% 1.19% 0.43% 3.76x 14.00x Dataset = Event tracker, Apr 1, 2013 – Apr 10, 2013 Precision = % of recommendations that were hits Recall = % of all possible hits that were recommended F1 = 2*P*R/(P+R) UBCF = User based collaborative filtering Harry Potter = Give 10 most popular to everyone
  36. 36. …we built our own ad systems
  37. 37. Custom Ad Units
  38. 38. Integrated E-Commerce Links to live e-commerce and purchases
  39. 39. …we built advanced data visualization capabilities
  40. 40. Mike Bostock
  41. 41. Nate Silver
  42. 42. Debunking the Story
  43. 43. …and when the time came, built Digital subscriptions commerce and marketing platform
  44. 44. Where this all puts us today
  45. 45. Android
  46. 46. Windows 8
  47. 47. HTML5 Web App
  48. 48. iOS
  49. 49. Live Video
  50. 50. Live Updates
  51. 51. Google Glass Breaking News Alerts delivered in real time with audio alerts Top News article headlines delivered in hourly batches Top News article summaries that can be read aloud using Text-to-Speech
  52. 52. 2003 Content Management / Delivery 2013 2015 Vendor developed CMS Capabilities • Limited web-based content management • Site templating Tech • Some Java/JSP Challenges • Siloed print & digital content management • FTP-based image management In-house content management systems Achievements Unlocked • Multimedia content support • REST/JSON content API • External Syndication platform • Editing workflows • Some print integration • Faceted search New Tech • Java • MySQL • jQuery • ElasticSearch Achievements Unlocked • Unified digital & print editing • APIs for everything
  53. 53. 2003 Advertising 2013 2015 In-house advertising engine Capabilities • Dynamic ad content • Ad campaign management Tech • C++ • Oracle • “Context” Challenges • Memory & hardware constraints • ADX not really well funded In-house advertising engine Achievements Unlocked • Sales cycle planning, media spend planning • Refactored codebase (Context to Java) • JSON/REST Ad APIs to front end New Tech • Java • C++/Autotools Achievements Unlocked • Real time ad intelligence & placement • Refactored sales orders system (about.com codebase)
  54. 54. 2003 Web Front End 2013 2015 In-house WWW; Vendor developed HTML mobile web Capabilities • Limited web development Tech • “Context” • XSLT/JSP • Some PHP Challenges • Pre-transformation In-house WWW; In-house mobile web Achievements Unlocked • Mature front end delivery capability New Tech • “Modern client” (HTML5) • Fledgling node.js • From prototype to jquery Achievements Unlocked • Radically more touch- friendly site • Flexibility to respond to a highly volatile environment New Tech • HTML5 • Keep on your toes…
  55. 55. 2003 Mobile Apps 2013 2015 No mobile apps in 2003 First iPhone app in 2008, vendor developed Capabilities • 1st generation iPhone app • Offline sync Tech • Native iOS Challenges • Crashing, crashing, crashing • Constrained content In-house developed mobile apps on iOS, Android Vendor developed apps for Windows, BlackBerry Achievements Unlocked • Good release cadence, stable products! • iPad app • Unified, highly product oriented team New Tech • Still a lot of native • HTML5, sparingly Achievements Unlocked • “Sensor Driven Web” • Wearable computing • Mobile-specific journalism
  56. 56. 2003 Tools / Infrastructure / Operations 2013 2015 Own Capabilities • Local Data Center Tech • CVS • Solaris • Apache • Akamai CDN Challenges • `scp *.tar.gz` deploys • Manual backups • Shared passwords Built out mobile team Achievements Unlocked • SVN, sometimes Git • Sane branch & release • EC2 data center • Test & build automation • Dev sandboxes • Still Akamai CDN Vendors for • Cloud infrastructure (AMZ) New Tech • Nginx • Hudson Achievements Unlocked • Continuous deployment • From CDN to in- house built messaging architecture • WebSockets
  57. 57. 2003 Business Intelligence 2013 2015 Buy, with in-house analytics Capabilities • Web log reporting (buy) • Traditional data warehouse Tech • Omniture • SAS • Oracle • Informatica (ETL) Challenges • Vendor controls log data • Incomplete data • Data quality Added In-house business intelligence New Capabilities • Fine grained reporting • Unified event tracking (petabytes) for all platforms • Content tagging • Real-time analytics New Tech • R • Pentaho • Hadoop/S3/Cassandra • D3.js New Capabilities • Full integration of business intelligence into product development cycle • More real time analytics driving content • Improved resolution through improved performance
  58. 58. Just as the Web disrupted Print, mobile is disrupting the traditional Web. Our best defense is to innovate. Planned major redesign of existing mobile apps, launching new mobile paid products next year. All of them will give our readers and advertisers the best possible user experience on all major platforms and on all devices.

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