Professional Biography

Stewart Mader has helped organizations around the world use the Web to connect people with engaging, valuable, and timely information. He is the author of Wikipatterns (Wiley, 2008), a practical guide to improving productivity and collaboration in organizations.

He is currently Global Head of Digital Media at Fitch Ratings, where he is building the company’s first-ever digital media team, and leading a complete redesign and reengineering of the company’s website and social media presence. Previously, he served as Director of Social Media & Online Tools at CFA Institute, where he established and led the organization’s online efforts, including Enterprising Investor and @MarketIntegrity, to reach journalists, legislators, policymakers, and investment professionals who play essential roles in shaping the direction of the financial services industry.

Stewart has guided digital media for companies including Atlassian, MARS, SAP, and World Bank-International Finance Corporation. For IFC, he guided development of a hub for donors, investors, consultancies, and NGOs to document and evaluate business models best suited for developing countries. For Atlassian, he established the voice of the brand by writing about social media, collaboration, and software development for the Atlassian Blogs, speaking at numerous conferences, and providing guidance to Confluence & JIRA customers around the world as the company expanded from its roots in Australia to a global organization with offices in Europe and the US. He also led digital media for Brown University, where his team was selected by Apple for one of the first large-scale pilots of iTunes U. He holds an MS, Curriculum Development & Instructional Technology from University at Albany, and a BS, Chemistry magna cum laude from University of Hartford.

Stewart is also an advocate for public transit. He currently serves as Acting Chair of PATH Riders Council, an advisory group chartered by PATH to to ensure riders have a voice in system design, customer service communications and operations decision-making. He also founded Subway NY NJ, an independent proposal to return New Jersey to the New York City Subway Map and prominently display PATH lines, for a more complete map of rapid transit in the urban core of New York


Interns, agencies should not manage social media

If you’re a director of social media and you’re not directly involved in managing editorial flow and campaigns on your company’s social media presence, you’re doing something wrong. Your presence on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn (and other industry-specific platforms like Houzz) is a counterpart to your website. For many people, it may be the first place they get information about you or interact with you, so why would you leave this to someone who is either unfamiliar with your organization, or not even part of it?

Interns should be involved with social media, but they deserve to learn what differentiates a company’s use of social media from someone’s personal use: editorial development, staff training, campaign planning, budgeting, and analytics. Likewise, agencies should be involved, but as sounding boards and suppliers of external perspective to help guide strategy.

Organizations need to develop the internal competence, and confidence to handle social media directly. Social media directors have a professional responsibility to guide an organization’s overall embrace of social media, and they con only do it well if they have the necessary firsthand experience. Making time to directly manage a key piece of the company’s social media presence gives directors credibility when they advocate for the integration of paid social into advertising campaigns and marketing automation, request the necessary budget to grow audiences and engagement, and work with staff throughout the organization to embed the mindset and skills necessary to serve in public-facing social media roles.

When organizations outsource day-to-day management, this is what happens: We Got A Look Inside The 45-Day Planning Process That Goes Into Creating A Single Corporate Tweet. Bad press for Huge, bad press for Président Cheese, and a reminder that when given an inch, Business Insider will take a mile.

Why is Huge not advising Président Cheese to start with a promoted account campaign to build a more reasonable starting audience on Twitter? At CFA Institute, we started a new account in April focused on the private wealth segment of the professional investment management industry, managed by a staff member who covers private wealth, and is a former Financial Times journalist. Thanks to a promoted account campaign targeted at people likely to have an interest in private wealth (based on who the follow and what they tweet about), @CFAwealth now has 17K followers, which gives the account a reasonable starting audience with whom to build a relationship based on useful information and interaction.

On Great Websites, Information is Craft, not Commodity

Jonathan Harris thinks the Internet is in the midst of a crisis:

The Internet is causing mass homogenization of human identity, making us all look the same. We use the same tools and social networks, fitting into the same templates, designed by companies to maximize page views and profits.

Most online experiences are made, like fast food, to be cheap, easy, and addictive: appealing to our hunger for connection but rarely serving up nourishment. Shrink-wrapped junk food experiences are handed to us for free by social media companies, and we swallow them up eagerly, like kids given buckets of candy with ads on all the wrappers.

Although Harris argues his point well, I don’t think there’s a crisis. There are parts of the Internet that feel overly commercialized – the equivalent of walking through Times Square. But if you go to a different neighborhood in New York, you’re more likely to find yourself among a collection of small, independent bars, restaurants, stores, and cafés that pay close attention to the quality of their experiences.

Likewise, the best experiences on the Internet come from websites built by people who, day after day, publish the best pieces of knowledge they can either gather or create. Those sites are worth visiting every day, because they push the limits of the web with original designs, truly interesting content, and an atmosphere that reflects their editors’ rigorous attention to detail. Here are a few such sites: A List Apart, Bobulate, Brand New, Daring Fireball, Frank Chimero, Hypercritical, Jessica Hische, kottke.org, swissmiss, The Great Discontent, Transit Maps, and Windows of New York.

John Gruber, author of Daring Fireball, recently linked to an article in which Andrew Orlowski explains why the commoditized, cast-a-wide-net approach that has produced a dizzying array of Android-based mobile devices can’t compete with the product culture of focused devices like the iPhone and Blackberry:

The lucrative end of the mobile device market is a product culture, and it pays to put more of your wood behind one arrow, or just a few arrows; the more you make, the less distinctive each one is.

The same principle applies to the websites that are distinctive because their authors combine content and packaging into a beautiful product that others aspire to recreate. Mega-sites like Facebook, Yahoo!, CNN, and many others designed to keep you moving through content like merchandise racks in a department store will never define the web, because they don’t push it forward. They have the biggest, brightest signs, but can’t match the experience and quality of sites that are the product of craftsmanship and dedication.

“Good Read. Great Read! Must Read!” No Thanks.

Lately, it seems there’s been a meteoric rise in use of the terms good read, great read and must-read. Tweets everywhere are proclaiming that I just must stop what I’m doing and read all these “good reads” and “must-reads”, lest I miss out!

Here’s the problem.

You wouldn’t tell me that a picture is a must-look, a song is a “good listen” or a video is a “great watch”. You’d tell me the song is beautiful, the video is funny, and the picture is scary, or gross. You’d tell me something meaningful about the contents of a picture, song or video, not about the process of consuming the piece of media.

Am I being pedantic? Perhaps, but I’m saying this because articles took time to make, and—if they’re really so worthy of attention—deserve to be promoted for what they tell us. Calling an article a good read commoditizes it as just another thing competing for my time and attention, and makes me think more about the time I’ll spend on it (and not on other important things) instead of piquing my interest in what it contains and what I might learn from it.

Something is Always Going on Somewhere

John Lanchester:

There’s a romance attending on those jobs, the ones that keep things running all night long: it’s part of the fascination of big cities, the sense that something is always going on somewhere, even in the smallest of small hours. Bakers and police and nurses and cab drivers and market porters all belong to that secret city, the one which rumbles along so late it starts to get early.

Throughout the 17 days my newborn daughter spent in the NICU at Lenox Hill Hospital I saw this culture firsthand – at the hospital, on the Subway, and on walks around the Upper East Side and to & from home. It’s an extraordinary thing.

A Unique Skyline for Brooklyn

Two Trees Management, best known for making modern-day DUMBO, has released its plan for the long-vacant Domino Sugar factory site on the Williamsburg waterfront. Two Trees acquired the site from previous developers Community Preservation Corporation and the Katan Group when their plan became mired in controversy over how much of the new residential development would be affordable. Dana Rubinstein summarizes the new plan:

The $1.5 billion plan calls for four new buildings and the redevelopment of the fifth, the original refinery building, which would house office space. The northermost building (the one farthest to the left in the rendering), would house both residential and commercial space. The third tower, and the project’s centerpiece, would house luxury apartments in a building that looks something like an untorqued version of Rem Koolhaas’ CCTV headquarters in China. There would be more apartments in the fourth and fifth buildings. The latter, the project’s tallest, would top off at about 60 stories.

Mixed-used project at former Domino Sugar site in Williamsburg. embargoed until 10 p.m. Sunday night. Sun4Mon

Vishaan Chakrabarti, principal at ShoP Architects, calls the new plan a unique skyline for Brooklyn:

According to Jed Walentas, principal at Two Trees, the previously approved plan, designed by Rafael Viñoly Architects, would have added to the monotony of the Brooklyn Waterfront. While the old plan was primarily condominiums and big box retail, the new plan includes office space and neighborhood-scaled retail. ‘We want to create a real neighborhood,’ he said.

The architecture and open space plans from ShoP and Field Operations are compelling, but what’s most exciting about this new plan is that Two Trees has a track record of building vibrant, diverse neighborhoods and appears to want the same result for the Domino Sugar site.

Ed Koch’s Legacy: Restoring New Yorkers’ Self-Respect

Tom McGeveran on growing up in New York during the Ed Koch years, and seeing the mayor succeed in beginning to give New Yorkers back their self-respect:

There are great mayors, sure, but the great churning ocean meeting the captain at the prow—war, banking policy, union squabbles, immigration, the changing workplace, the changing value system—is very, very strong. I think it’s possible that the fact that I’m still here, after grumbling through three mayoralties after Koch’s, and that my parents and two of my siblings and their families still live here, might be proof that something worked, for us, at least. I’ll grumble through the next one too.

The first step in loving New York City is, after all, saying you do. You hope it comes true, someday. The great politicians aren’t just the ones who say it over and over, but the ones who do something to make it so. That, at least, Koch did try–very hard, I think–to do.

Craft and Character

Steven Soderbergh on character:

On the few occasions where I’ve talked to film students, one of the things I stress, in addition to learning your craft, is how you behave as a person. For the most part, our lives are about telling stories. So I ask them, “What are the stories you want people to tell about you?” Because at a certain point, your ability to get a job could turn on the stories people tell about you. The reason [then-Universal Pictures chief] Casey Silver put me up for [1998’s] Out of Sight after I’d had five flops in a row was because he liked me personally. He also knew I was a responsible filmmaker, and if I got that job, the next time he’d see me was when we screened the movie. If I’m an asshole, then I don’t get that job. Character counts. That’s a long way of saying, “If you can be known as someone who can attract talent, that’s a big plus.”

Ada Louise Huxtable

From the PBS/WNET series New York: A Documentary Film:

I have always felt that the fascination of a city like New York, particularly, is that it offers you all of these contrasts, all of these changes. That you still can go back and see the Georgian and the Federal city, that there are still places where you can experience that, and you can experience that right next to some of the newest and grandest skyscrapers.

We who love cities are in her debt for doing so much to improve public awareness and discussion of architecture’s role in our lives.