Google Starter Project

See my Google Starter Project in action (5 mins).

The Economist asks

The Economist magazine and its Web site,, recently embarked on a self-transformation. One of the goals was to create a single editorial/technical/design team that would create new social media powered products. I was lucky enough to be invited to help create these new products along with Gideon Lichfield, Deputy Editor of The Economist Online, Ezra Gildesgame, Ben Edwards, Austin Smith, Audra Martin and others.

Before we could start working on new social media applications, we needed to move the entire site over to a new platform, Drupal, and a new way of thinking and working together: scrum and agile. Rob Purdie was our able guide in this area. He helped us figure out how to get stuff done.

This screencast (about 3 minutes) walks you through The Economist asks:
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I also worked on what a software designer might call the "list views" of the site, aka the 'channels' or category pages like Business & Finance, or Culture. Soon the channel concept took over the home page of the site, as well. Gideon and I also worked onThe Economist asks, a little widget that prompts users to answer a thought-provoking question: "Is Obama hostile to business?" for example. The user clicks, the buttons fade out, and then the tally fades in with a link to a discussion. The idea was to provide a good-tasting gateway drug that would lead users to the heavier stuff, i.e. commenting, Economist Debates, Economics by Invitation...

Here's the first version of the widget that we came up with, and the idea was to enable users to embed it on any site, wiki, facebook page, etc.:

And here's a page with one of the first questions that went live:

Update: 19 October 2011. The Economist Asks now regularly sees over 20,000 responses on popular polls.