Rick Mason is one of Newsana’s oldest and most valued members, along with one of the helpful hands that helped build Newsana! Mason is a web developer who has worked on all kinds of projects for multiple companies. He enjoys journalism and has spent seven years working at a weekly newspaper. In addition, Mason has been running a local group titled CreateInTO (formerly FlashinTO) that meets monthly to talk about creative applications of technology as well as working with FITC, an event company that runs design and technology events around the world. The past couple of years, Mason has been working at Relish Interactive where he built out the back-end technology that keeps Newsana running. When he’s not working, you can find Mason on his bicycle commuting or trail riding. He also loves spending time with his daughters who he quotes, “have completely changed my view of the world.”
1. What makes a great social media site?
The best social media sites are those backed by simple applications that make it easy to post content. They also usually feature powerful API’s that let other sites and applications connect to them. Twitter’s success was built on the backs of the hundreds of developers that early on saw the potential and built all kinds of apps using Twitter’s API. Instagram built the app first and only more recently have started to expand their viewing options. Of course there’s also a sort of secret sauce that often involves not just well designed software but also a healthy dose of luck in the form of hitting the right market at the right time. There are dozens of really great social media projects that have come and gone because they never quite clicked with users or simply got lost in the sea of competitors.
2. Where do you go for great content online? Why there?
I’m one of those people who has faithfully stuck with RSS feeds as my major content sources. Though I like the immediacy of Twitter I find it too time consuming for content discovery. I was an avid Google Reader user and have since switched to Feedly. I can very rapidly skim through hundreds of RSS feed headlines and pull out the best stuff. I’ve tried all sorts of different tools and strategies but a powerful RSS reader is still my tool of choice. And though RSS has faded into the background in recent years, it’s still rare to find a site that doesn’t have RSS feeds for content.
That said, some of the feeds I pull in are from other aggregators. Hacker News is my top source for professional and geeky news – it’s particularly good for surfacing obscure things you won’t find elsewhere. The Verge and Mashable are probably my next top two sources.
3. What’s your favorite type of content (infographics, interviews, thought pieces, studies, etc) and why?
Can’t say I have a favorite. I’m just as happy getting lost in a rabbit hole of YouTube watching or Buzzfeed trash as I am reading long form content from The Atlantic, New York Times, etc. I do read a lot of studies though – I’m really interesting in anything to do with the human mind and behavior. I’m constantly citing the latest studies at home, driving my partner a bit crazy in the process – especially if they are studies about parenting.
4. Which of your Newsana pitches are you most proud of?
That’s a challenge! I almost crashed my browser trying to go all the way back to the beginning. I think overall though the pitches I’m most proud of are the ones that I pitch under Gender & Feminism + Parenting. Having two young daughters at home these hit a deeply personal spot for me. Pitches like this one, http://newsana.com/parenting/story/talks-mckenna-pope-want-to-be-an-activist-start-with-your-toys
Girls like McKenna Pope give me hope for the future, hope that we’ll eventually end up in a world where regardless of gender, everyone is treated equally.
Talking about long form stories, this one from The Atlantic about how ridiculously over-protective we’ve become of our children is a personal favorite. http://newsana.com/parenting/story/features-archive-2014-03-hey-parents-leave-those-kids-alone-358631
5. What’s the best part of Newsana?
Aside from the fact that I helped build and shape it right from day one? :) I do find that the community of users has really created a space that does what Newsana set out to do: surface the best content for everyone to read. It’s served as a valuable platform for showing me things that I might not otherwise read. I also really love that after awhile it becomes clear that certain members are like-minded individuals and I know right away that I’ll want to read whatever they thought was important enough to pitch. It’s filtering based on my own perceived connection to another individual. This is something that’s hard to mimic with an algorithm.