A Snapshot of Journalism Labs: HuffPost Labs

HuffPost Labs


There are a number of big journalism labs all striving to be on the cutting edge.  Below is a ‘snapshot’ of one of the more commonly known labs, HuffPost Labs, with a discussion how they operate and some examples of projects they’ve developed.  Their research, techniques and new tools sometimes provide inspiration for BBG staff as they are looking for creative solutions.  I’ve already posted about the Nieman Journalism Lab, the New York Times Research & Development Lab, and Northwest University Knight Lab.

 

 

HuffPost Labs

Mission:

According to Arianna Huffington in an interview with Poynter columnist Steve Myers in 2011, the overall mission of the Huffington Post is “is building community around news, information and entertainment, inviting the audience to participate in the conversation and interact with each other.”

While the HuffPost Labs website doesn’t explicitly state its mission on their website, it seems that their projects do reflect the overall mission of HuffingtonPost.com.  They’re self-described as “currently hard at working redefining the future of mobile cloud traffic via APIs and data hubs. #sorandom,” followed by “NOW HIRING: FULLTIME GROWTH HACKER NINJA INTERN!!!” Despite this announcement, HuffPost Labs intern Ilana Sufrin assures us that the team is fully staffed.

 

Operations:

The HuffPost Labs’ team consists of Matthew Conlen, Brandon Diamond, Andrew Sass, and two full-time interns.  A small, but creative team, their website is probably the most amusing of all the Lab websites.  The team of developers went mega-retro and have a site full of old school animated .gifs, ugly fonts highlighted by ugly colors, set to the soundtrack of a Hawaii Five-0 .midi soundtrack.

 

Project—From Lab to Production:

Presumably focusing on tools that serve the news aggregation model, the first project out of the HuffPost Labs (fall 2012) was HuffPost Highlights.  This tool “feeds quotes and passages readers have copied into a searchable web page”.  According to Ariana Huffington, HuffPost readers copy and share quotes from HuffPost via Twitter, Facebook, or email over 40,000 times a day.

In December 2012, the HuffPost Labs team “released the first version of HackerUnion.org our way of giving back to the tech community in New York and around the world.”  HackerUnion.org is a community of developers and designers “who have something to add to the broader group” in order to create a go-to source for the industry in New York to encourage job growth, career growth and creativity. Hacker Union is poised to set up chapters in San Francisco and London.

 

Current Projects:

The team is currently working on a mobile app designed to “change the face of NYC nightlife.” In addition to this project, HuffPost Labs maintains a startup tech blog at www.compylr.com.

 

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Thoughts? Feel free to post comments or questions in the section below or tweet us @BBGinnovate.

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(Thank you to Rob Bole for his contributions to this post.)

(The foregoing commentary does not constitute endorsement by the US Government, the Broadcasting Board of Governors, VOA, MBN, OCB, RFA, or RFE/RL of the information products or services discussed.)

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April Deibert

April Deibert

April Deibert is the Multimedia Blogger/Producer for the Office of Digital & Design Innovation. Follow her on Twitter: @BBGinnovate and @AprilDeibert.

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