Grist.org, the environmental journalism non-profit I’m on the board of, has received a Knight Foundation grant to “allow newsrooms to better measure audience engagement, beyond clicks and page views, by creating an open-source WordPress plugin that will measure ‘attention minutes’ to determine how long users are interacting with content.” I’m excited to see what they come up with, and that it will be open source, perhaps it’s something we can incorporate into Jetpack down the line. If hacking on that sort of thing and saving the planet is interesting to you, Grist is hiring WordPress developers.

Propublica has a piece on canvas fingerprinting done by the ad service that uses the trojan horse of sharing buttons, AddThis: Meet the Online Tracking Device That is Virtually Impossible to Block. Regardless of the usefulness of this particular technique, which seems to not be effective enough to stick around, services like AddThis and ShareThis will always spy on and tag your audience when you use their widgets, and you should avoid them if you care about that sort of thing. That’s why we put sharing buttons into Jetpack that are much more privacy (and performance) friendly.

The New York Times writes about how The New Yorker is overhauling its design and online presence, including experimenting with paywalls and this wonderful nugget:

The new site, designed to be cleaner, with new typefaces, will be based on the WordPress publishing system. It is expected to be easier to navigate for mobile users — among the fastest-growing segments of the readership.

The New Yorker is one of my top 3 favorite publications in the world, and I’m very excited they’ll be using WP for their next chapter.

Amazing Ibrahim Maalouf concert.

Ibrahim Maalouf Wowed Me

One of the most surprising performances I saw at the North Sea Jazz festival was a French-Lebanese trumpet player named Ibrahim Maalouf. He plays a trumpet with a special additional fourth valve — three is standard — that allows him to more easily play Arabic maqams or scales with quarter tone and three quarter tone intervals along with equal temperament western ones, like Don Ellis. He also has a way of playing that sounds most like singing in his inflections and vibrato.

This is the best video I could find of one song he did called “Beirut,” and I’m amazed it only has 475 views. It’s worth 12 minutes out of your day, especially when it amps up at the end.

The only word for the crowd was “pandemonium” — I’ve never seen a jazz audience react to music like that; it reminded me of the famous Duke Ellington / Paul Gonsalves performance and the riot that followed.

The audience on Saturday went totally bonkers, and the band did some even wilder songs to close including with jazz bagpipe (gaita?), which reminded me of Cristina Pato. Here’s a video of a similar end, but it’s a much more subdued crowd:

Amazing music, and also a good reminder of the power of a live performance, where a great artist can feed off the audience and vice versa. I wouldn’t mind going to a few more jazz shows where people are unafraid to hoot and holler and move a bit.

If you ever have a chance to see Ibrahim Maalouf live, I  recommend it. It looks like he uses WordPress for his site, too, which makes him doubly cool. :)