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We have an Emerging Tech Team!

Did you know CNN has an Emerging Technologies team? 

We do! We've combined our Emerging Tech and Off Platform projects into one team at CNN. Most people ask how we define Emerging and Off Platform. Off Platform is a robust and established product that displays CNN content, like an iPhone. Emerging Tech is a brand new product that gives users CNN content.

Our Off Platform projects have consisted of Apple News, Google Newsstand, Facebook Messenger, and Facebook Instant Articles. We've seen a tremendous amount of traffic on these platforms, which has initated several conversations about how we will experience news in the future. These platforms have also allowed us to utilize our design team to create talored experiences on some of our most popular news stories. 

Apple News Preview

Photo Credit: Alicia Johnson, CNN

Our Emerging Technologies team has launched our Amazon Alexa and Google Home experiences during the past year. If you haven't tried those out, just say, "Alexa, enable CNN" on your Amazon device or "Okay, Google, let me talk to CNN" on your Google Home device. 

Google Home and Amazon Echo

Photo Source:

My favorite thing about being on the Emerging Technologies team is being able to partner with companies like Amazon, Google, Apple, and Facebook. Having the name CNN has allowed us to partner with these tech powerhouses and many others. I think it's a unique experience that many companies aren't able to have.

My second favorite thing is all the cross-collaboration that has been going on to make these projects come together. It has been fun to see what our design, product, editorial, and production teams can do when we all put our heads together.

Be on the lookout for CNN's experience on the newest technology drop. And if you are going to be at any conferences in Atlanta this year, you should checkout Katie Owen’s presentation on “Google Home: Creating Engaging Custom Actions” at We Rise or my "How to Build an Alexa Skill" workshop at  Connect.Tech.

River of Information

Communication is one of the greatest tools that people can use. Communication allows a river of information to flow from person to person.

From time to time, I find myself artifically creating dams that slow down the flow of information.  This typically occurs when I do not manage the channels that control flow. An easy example is inadvertently including a colleagure on an email thread or meeting invite. On the surface this seems harmless but it has the potential to lead to a communication gap.

definition of dam

How am I solving this for myself? I am working daily to firm up my communication channels. I am actively building relationships with people. I am creating distribution lists. Each moment I am asking myself, "How can I help". 

These are just some random thoughts that I am quickly expressing.

GraphQL service

In the London office we are developing a GraphQL service. The service accepts GraphQL queries and can translate them into multiple REST requests to backend servers that serves data. The service will mean developers of page rendering apps can treat all data coming from a single source, thus eliminating the need to code and maintain api-calling code per data source.

What is GraphQL? 

GraphQL is a query language for your API. It replaces REST API web-services. GraphQL gives the client the ability to pick and choose what data it wants from the server. I like to think of GraphQL language as SQL, and the GraphQL server standardises all data sources as databases. The format of the query and the query result will always be the same regardless of the data source, e.g. MongoDB, Postgres, etc.

Other two benefits of GraphQL: 

  • Fast and light payload - single round-trip, GraphQL only fetches the data you specify with your query.
  • Self-documentation - once you create GraphQL schemas then documentation will be automatically available.

Technology Problem Solving

When I am presented with a problem there are two questions I try to get addressed: Why is the problem a problem? How can this problem be solved is most simple way possible? I am writing about this because that is how I have found myself operating at CNN.

From a technology standpoint, I am driving toward solving problems from a holistic perspective. It is my intention to move away from solving symptoms first. There has to be a balance between keeping the lights on and preparing for the future.

Being a technologist has allowed me to bring some of the most creative ideas to life. Through it all I have now found myself taking the stance of "Keep It Simple, Stupid" (aka KISS). I often have the urge to create the most complex systems just because it feels like the right thing to do. The challenge for me is to find ways to keep it simple. Will I feel more creative when I keep things simple? I am not sure but it is worth a shot.

These are just thoughts that I wanted to express. Don't beat me up too badly!

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