Tyler Fisher

News Apps Developer

How We Built Borderland Out Of A Spreadsheet


Note: This was originally published on the NPR Visuals blog

Since the NPR News Apps team merged with the Multimedia team, now known as the Visuals team, we've been working on different types of projects. Planet Money Makes a T-Shirt was the first real “Visuals” project, and since then, we've been telling more stories that are driven by photos and video such as Wolves at the Door and Grave Science. Borderland is the most recent visual story we have built, and its size and breadth required us to develop a smart process for handling a huge variety of content.


Restoring Equilibrium to the Web


Note: This was originally published on the Knight Foundation blog

In June, Knight Foundation will award $2.75 million, including $250,000 from the Ford Foundation, to support the most compelling ideas around the News Challenge question: How can we strengthen the Internet for free expression and innovation? To submit an application or to provide feedback on other entries, visit newschallenge.org. The deadline is 5 p.m. ET on March 18.

This question, how can we strengthen the Internet for free expression and innovation, should not have to be asked. From its inception, the web’s creators designed it as an open medium for free expression and innovation. In Nieman Lab’s sprawling Riptide, Tim Berners-Lee reminisces on why he invented the whole thing in the first place:

“Every time you thought of something, then you’d put it [on the web], and I’d pretty much see it, so that you and I, our brains, would be in equilibrium, because we’d be in equilibrium with the web.”

Equilibrium is the key word: all ideas and people were balanced in Berners-Lee’s original concept of the web. But if you ask him about today’s version of the web, as Wired UK did in February, his tone is different:

“I want a web that's open, works internationally, works as well as possible and is not nation-based. […] What I don‘t want is a web where the Brazilian government has every social network’s data stored on servers on Brazilian soil.”

When the inventor’s description of the state of the invention contradicts the intention, something went wrong. Berners-Lee seems primarily concerned with government spying and control of the web, not the monopolization of the web by major tech companies. But both are major problems.


I'm 22 years old and what is this.


Note: This article was originally published on Medium

Recently, a lot of people that I admire and look up to have raised their voices, advocating for getting the Internet back to what it once was. An open web. A web we shared and owned together. The old web was awesome.

It sure sounds awesome. Currently, our networks and our personal data are controlled by major corporations with no respect for privacy. Silicon Valley, that so-called tech hotbed of “innovation” and “disruption,” is by most reports becoming a culture of inequality and vapidity. Getting back to the founding open standards the web is, I’m told, a solution to all of this. The web should be a place where we can own our data, where our best developers focus on solving the problems we need to solve as a democratic society. An open web accepts all people and creates a culture of inclusion.

Again, sounds great. As a webmaker, I want an open web. But as someone who has never experienced that, I don’t know where to begin in making it. I’m not sure simply reverting back to what we had is the right path if we want to include people who have never experienced the open web or understand its principles.