Toward the close of December, I have for the past couple years been rounding up the very best work I did throughout the year and summarizing it for myself and my friends — but mostly for myself, so I don’t forget that in spite of many days filled with workaday news briefs, I occasionally do turn out some good journalism.
(Also, I’m looking at year-over-year trends, and I see great improvements between the 2010 list and now. Perspective is a good thing.)
The only good post I wrote at Mashable (and, consequently, in the first 6 months of 2011) was this horrifically long and vastly informative piece on why Node was becoming so trendy. It served as my Hacker News redemption piece for the year. Since then, Node.js journalism has become something of a specialty of mine.
As soon as I jumped ship for VentureBeat, I cranked out this epic love letter to Los Angeles and its startup culture. I spent 5 years in LA before moving to San Francisco, and I’ll always be an alum of that tech culture.
In a long sit-down with Twitter developer relations mastermind Ryan Sarver, I attempted to bury a hatchet that had been raised two years prior. The company’s relationship with third-party developers was one that I’d watched crack firsthand at Chirp, Twitter’s first and (to date) only developer conference in 2009. As I covered the many grievances third-party devs bore, I also noted that Twitter’s attitude toward those devs and its actions toward its API users was beginning to change.
I also got a chance to sit down for a while with a prominent Googler, Bradley Horowitz. Early in the Google+ game, Horowitz gave me a very clear picture of Google+’s real design. It’s not a social network; it is a unifying login and profiling system for all Google web products, which is somehow a lot more important than a mere social network.
Another great couple interviews were conducted on Facebook’s campus. I got to have a long chat with David Recordon, someone I’d been following from afar for a couple years. He told me everything I needed to know about Facebook’s open-source software programs. But I was surprised that the more powerful interview was one about Facebook’s open-source hardware initiative, one that would have me scurrying around a data center in Prineville a few months later to check out revolutionary new designs.
Finally, I tend to do a good bit of Android coverage. This year, the Ice Cream Sandwich launch gave me plenty of fodder for that. I had a great interview with the Ice Cream Sandwich design lead, Matias Duarte. (He also gave me the low-down on Roboto, the company’s new homebrewed font for Android.)
But surprisingly enough, the Android/Motorola acquisition and related patent lawsuits ended up comprising the bulk of my Android reportage this past year. After I wrote a somewhat biting headline about the acquisition, I got a good, long talking-to on background by a Googler. That led to a more thoughtful and nuanced piece on the acquisition, specifically as it related to the issue of patent law and Android’s ability to survive all these lawsuits from Apple and Microsoft.
In a word, if I’ve been a good reporter in 2011, it was because of people. All the best stories are about people, not really about technology at all. My ability to have access to people who have great visions and who make important decisions is the number-one reason I’m a good journalist.
And also, I’ve been doing a lot of reading/studying on narrative journalism, something I hope to improve on in 2012, as well.