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Meranda Adams

Meranda Adams (née Watling) is a senior online editor for a magazine by day and journalism blogger (or more prolific twitterer) by night. She's loved writing and design since childhood, and developed an early interest in technology when she started teaching herself HTML at age 10. She's a graduate of Kent State University‘s School of Journalism and Mass Communication, which is about a half hour from her hometown of Akron, Ohio. Currently, she lives near Indianapolis with her husband and their dog, Dickens. Contact Meranda at meranda at merandawrites dot com or on Twitter @meranduh.

Which Tweet Wins? See If You Can You Out-Predict A Computer

If you work in social media, or any online media site really, for very long, you learn that it’s hard to predict which post or piece of content will go viral. That doesn’t stop people from trying.

The latest attempt? The New York Times has the details on a collaboration by three computer scientists who developed an algorithm that, with relative accuracy, can tell you which of two tweets to the same content by the same user will more likely be reshared. This is how those developers explain their project:

… [W]e take advantage of the surprising fact that there are many pairs of tweets containing the same url and written by the same user but employing different wording. Given such pairs, we ask: which version attracts more retweets? This turns out to be a more difficult task than predicting popular topics. Still, humans can answer this question better than chance (but far from perfectly), and the computational methods we develop can do better than an average human …

How is that possible? A huge body of data to pull from. In A/B tests, it predicts which tweet will be more popular correctly 67 percent of the time, compared to the 61 percent of tweets more likely to be retweeted that humans guess correctly, according to the NYT. Before you get too depressed, read the full article to see why your computer won’t be replacing you or your social community manager anytime soon.

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Then just for fun: The NYT’s The Upshot takes this idea one step farther and put together this fascinating 25 question gut check to see if YOU can beat their algorithm and predict with more success whether one tweet will go viral or one tweet will go silent.

It’s harder than it sounds! I got 15 vs. the computer’s 19. So what do you get?

What To Read Today: Interview With Buzzfeed’s Jonah Peretti

If you only read one thing on the Internet today, this is it. And it will probably be all you have time to read, clocking in at the 91 minute mark according to Medium’s estimation.

(But hey, if your Tweetdeck is down and Feedly’s under attack, you should have more time than usual to lean in to a piece like this. Sorry for the reminder.)

jonahperettiIt’s an eight-part Q&A that reporter Felix Salmon conducted over a few interviews with Jonah Peretti, who helped found two of the most viral, traffic-driving websites on the Internet: Huffington Post, and after leaving HuffPo, Buzzfeed.

If you only read part of it, skip to sections 6, Buzzfeed as Willy Wonka’s Lab, and 7, How to win the Internet. On the whole, it’s a fascinating look into the mind and methods, plus the future and back story, of one of the people who made the Internet and general online mediascape what it is today — for better or worse.

News On Paper Towels? Yeah, It’s A Thing Now

Like a throw back to the days of ripping the latest headlines off the wire, one newspaper in Mexico has come up with a fun and unexpected way to put the paper back in newspaper — with paper towels!

Check out this video from agency FCB Mexico about the fun campaign by free newspaper Más por Más, which according to the video literally prints the latest headlines ON paper towels as they come out of the dispenser. They put a QR code on the sheets, and report a significant increase in visitors to their website from the novel hand wipes (which were made with a special ink that didn’t smear).

Fun AND functional? You bet!

See more of the details about the creatives behind this idea on Creativity.
(H/T PSFK)

ONA Adds Categories for Data, Visual Digital Storytelling To Online Journalism Awards

In it’s call for submissions today, the Online News Association added new categories that recognize some of the biggest areas of digital journalism growth since the awards were first launched in 2000.
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Of particular note, the ONA will award new prizes for investigative data journalism and visual digital storytelling. Among other changes, the new Online Journalism Awards categories include:

The University of Florida Award for Investigative Data Journalism — This award, made possible by the estate of Lorraine Dingman, honors work that best features and presents data journalism on digital and mobile platforms. The award will focus on the effectiveness of the data to tell a story, how well the data are presented to users, the journalistic impact and relevance of the data, and the design and functionality of the data presentation. Judges will also take into account the difficulty in acquiring the data. Winners will be asked travel to the University of Florida (expenses paid) to lead full-day workshops.

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Finally, Viral Content That’s Actually Funny: The Onion To Launch ClickHole.com

Watch out Upworthy, BuzzFeed and the other bazillion viral content producers who rely on visitors falling into the rabbit hole of clicking link after viral link on their website. There’s soon to be a new, funnier kid on the block who’s going after your audience by poking fun at you…

(Screen capture from ClickHole.com)

(Screen capture from ClickHole.com)

Parody news site The Onion, which already garners robust traffic by playing off newspaper and TV news story stereotypes, announced this week it will set its sights on stealing some of the click love with a parody site of the viral content farms.

The new site, ClickHole.com, will launch in June. Don’t worry though if you can’t wait that long, there’s already a fun infographicesque tutorial up on the homepage where you can practice your clicking skills. Plus, the name is such a perfect parody of such sites that it’s hard to believe that domain was even available.

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