I grabbed a quick word with some of the participants at the end of the first data journalism camp we hosted in Istanbul. Here’s how the journalists found the experience.
Archive for the ‘data’ tag
The next two days will be taken up with DJ Camp 2013 in Istanbul. This event is part of a programme created through Uclan’s Media and Digital Enterprise programme and will see Francois Nel, Megan Knight, Patrick McGee and I working with a group of journalists in Istanbul.
It’s all about data journalism – from sourcing information, work on verification and different outcomes including mapping and other visualisations.
The work comes at an important time for the development of an open data culture for the city. Late last year, Istanbul’s links with representatives from Manchester’s digital community kicked off discussions about the challenges and benefits of opening civic data sets during a visit from Julian Tait and Adrian Slatcher.
Now, in this separate initiative, we will pick up on that conversation again and look forward to hosting a panel event with representatives from Istanbul city council as well as prominent editor and columnist with national newspaper Milliyet, Mehves Evin tomorrow evening.
During the two days of workshops and coaching, there will be a liveblog running which you can see at the Uclan Made blog here:http://uclanmade.blogspot.com/2013/01/djcamp2013-coming-to-you-live-from.html
and I’ll hope to do more updates here and on the Flickr group for MADE Turkey here.
The hashtag for the event is #djcamp2013.
Still in beta, it provides an opportunity to play around a bit and see how it might fit into the whole suite of geo-tagging related tools being developed.
Being one of those involved in the team developing this I wanted to get straight onto trying it out so I’ve created a very simple spreadsheet of the locations and opening times of Manchester’s city centre toilets. The data comes from the Data GM store. Creating the spreadsheet took the longest time, the set up and ingestion into the noticeboard probably 10 mins at most. Quick and dirty toilets mapping as it were!
You can see the items and click on items to get a map view here, http://atyourconvenience.n0tice.com but, as n0tice is primarily a mobile experience, the worth of this type of information is more obvious when viewed via the app where users will encounter the information in a serendipitous way due to their proximity to the location. (Alternatively a feed of the info from the api could create something in a different platform or publication.)
If you fancy giving the new spreadsheet feature a go, the instructions on how to get started are here: http://n0tice.org/2013/01/15/how-to-add-spreadsheet-data-to-a-noticeboard the apps to experience the content in your location are free and can be downloaded here.
I’m pulling together a list of data journalism projects (started below) by picking projects that could be interesting in some way to journalists starting out in this area looking for some inspiration and a little ‘howto’ assistance.
Later this month I’ll be joining colleagues from the Media and Digital Enterprise to help host our first Data Journalism Camp (DJCamp2013) in Istanbul – a place where journalists face a challenging environment when pursuing investigations.
In compiling this list I’m conscious that a lot of work in this area involves well-resourced big media groups which can be a bit daunting for independent operators and smaller outfits so I’m particularly interested in tracking down examples where the story is told using free or cheap tools and can be handled with a smaller staff (i.e. without a team of 16 devoting six months to it!)
So, although I’ve included the ‘big hitters’ at the bottom – including the winners of last year’s inaugrual data journalism awards – I’m keen to explore more modest examples too. Please do feel free to share links to any via the comments below (or twitter, email) and I’ll add them to this resource, they can’t be too small……
- A google map created by The Detail gives a postcode district breakdown of the response times to Category A (life threatening) calls made to the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service during 2010 and 2011.
- Crime down your street series from the Manchester Evening News also uses Google maps to create clickable crime league tables from data provided by Greater Manchester Police during early 2012.
- Ongoing map created by Guardian Music readers using n0tice.com to map their reviews and tips of music gigs across the UK.
- Using the very simple tools in Google fusion tables to cope with very large datasets in the case of The Guardian’s wikileaks Iraq war deaths map.
- Simple and easy-to-follow google spreadsheet shows the number and cost of exit packages for council staff who left in 2010/11 and 2011/12 in Welsh local authorities compiled by journalist Claire Miller at WalesOnline from information with the council’s statement of accounts.
- The Telegraph also used google docs to detail the original MPs expenses investigation.
- The Guardian routinely published spreadsheets from news stories at the Datablog. There’s a list of the 2012 spreadsheets from the year’s top data stories available here.
- Animated video, The spread of tech over time, which journalist Caroline Beavon says took her two hours to do and she details how.
- Generative art piece that shows in a graphic and acoustic way the many deaths caused by drug wars in Mexico (mainly during 2009 and 2010)
- Using free calendar tools to tell a story with Homicide Watch DC which seeks to ‘Mark every death. Remember every victim. Follow every case.’
Those international award winners……….
FBI Terrorists. (Mother Jones and UC Berkeley Investigative Reporting Program, USA) – data-driven investigations, national/international
Methadone and the Politics of Pain (The Seattle Times, USA) -data-driven investigations, local/regional
Riot Rumours (The Guardian, UK) – data visualisation and storytelling (national/international)
Transparent Politics (Polinetz AG, Switzerland) – data-driven applications (national/international) explores and illustrates voting patterns in the Swiss parliament
http://nick123.ru/dtp2011/#result (Nikolay Guryanov, Stas Seletskiy and Alexey Papulovskiy, Russia) – data visualisation and storytelling (local/regional)
http://schools.chicagotribune.com/ (Chicago Tribune, USA) – data-driven applications (local/regional)
* I’ve also started bookmarking useful blogposts for data journalism at Diigo with the tag djcamp all suggestions and links gratefully received.
Updated: Suggestions from twitter
— James Ball (@jamesrbuk) January 2, 2013
— Craig McGinty (@craigmcginty) January 2, 2013
The city will play host to the first hackathon event starting this evening in an usual partnership of digital types and the city council. I don’t know whether it’s the first time a council has reached out to its local developer community to work on data for a city – it’s not something I’ve come across in other places that’s for sure.
In these times when the word ‘council’ seems to be attached to ‘cuts’ it’s great to see some innovative digital moves and I’ll be keeping a close eye on the projects which will emerge from inside the magic of the MadLab.
To help do that, I’ve set up dedicated noticeboard which is available for anyone to post to from the event. See it here: http://mcrhack.n0tice.com.
In addition I have a little robot friend on the team – conference bot will automatically import tweets and Instagram pictures with the hashtag #mcrhack into the board providing users allow their location to be enabled. n0tice.com is all about geo-coding, that’s how it works!
Letting the hacking commence!
Computer assisted reporting…..now there’s a phrase I haven’t written or uttered for quite a while. Where data journalism seems to have taken off, poor old CAR just never did catch the popular imagination as a term…..
Whatever you call it, the gradual opening up of data in computer readable formats brings with it more opportunities for journalists and I’ve been fiddling around with feeds to see how some of the new features launched with n0tice 2.0 works.
I’ve shared my efforts – and a step-by-step guide to curating feeds with these tools over at the n0tice blog today – see here.
Data journalism isn’t a much-used term in Turkey where I’m currently coaching on a weekend for news entrepreneurs as part of the #MADETurkey project.
The country is advanced in its Internet use – it’s the fourth biggest worldwide user of Facebook for instance – but journalism is still very much in a transition process to digital and the opportunities scrutinising data offers to journalists just beginning.
After giving a short introduction to data journalism session yesterday, including three very different examples of projects in other parts of the world – wikileaks, HomicideWatch and ArtCast – it was time to demonstrate something practicle and this is the proof of concept that Megan Knight from Uclan put together.
Using a few of the figures from the Committee to Protect Journalists’ The map was created in a very short space of time to illustrate that points that 1. The tools to create something like this area freely available and 2. The skills required are ones all journalists have ie. gathering and processing information, albeit using slightly different tools.
I’ve been experimenting with maps for storytelling, newsgathering and information for quite some time, aiming to best utilise the specific attributes of different available platforms.
For a few examples; I like the simplicity of using google maps to display information such as this map of northern food bloggers’ locations. The utter ease of reasonably large spreadsheet visualisation using fusion tables for this and the live data element of Zeemaps proved useful with this.
But the issue of involving the reader to crowdsource the map’s content always proves a bit trickier – I loved the possibilities the Leeds Cutswatch map offered using Usahidi for instance, but the backend management and integration it required probably put it out of reach for smaller operators such as bloggers and hyperlocals to replicate.
This weekend I’ve played around with the crowdsourcing mapping capabilities of n0tice.com. (Disclosure; this is a platform which I’m part of the team working on.)
The Guardian Travel website used this very effectively this weekend to crowdsource readers events and tips – basically the EasterWeekend.n0tice.com noticeboard feeds automatically onto the Travel website and a few design tweaks on their pages means everything appears in the Guardian’s house style for icons etc.
Inspired by this I came up with this simple hack to display the events of a noticeboard I run for The Northerner blog. Bearing in mind I know no code……it was a simple rehash of the embed code for the Travel one but now anyone who wants to add an event or news story from the north of England to this map simply log into n0tice.com and visit the northerner.n0tice.com board. What do you think?
Fun to play around with yes, but there’s a few considerations for any publisher, whether you’re a blogger like myself or a mainstream news organisation, to take into account when crowdsourcing material like this so tools have been built into the n0tice.com backend;
- live updating. Be able to automate the display of data entered – from form to feed.
- moderate submissions. Ability to control exactly what content remains on a noticeboard (and therefore the map).
- measure the map’s effectiveness, or otherwise, with standard metrics eg. Page views, most viewed etc.
- promote. Easily integrate into the publishers established platforms such as blogs, twitter, facebook etc.
Soon the n0tice.com api will be available to any publishers small or large (sign up here if you are interested) so I’m hoping what I’ve fiddled around with here to demonstrate The Northerner might prompt some far greater ideas for where this particular open journalism adventure could lead.
The #solomoDEN event in Salford Quays was an opportunity to hear about projects, research and initiatives in the area of social-local-mobile journalism.
I attended to talk about a GMG project I’m involved with called n0tice.com which has these ideas at its heart to produce an online/mobile noticeboard (and if anyone would like an invite please drop your email here or via the comments below).
Here’s my pick of the other talks;
1. World Newsmedia Innovation Study.
There’s a lot of information in these 130 pages, 100 data sets compiled by 500 respondents in 11 languages. The aspect that caught my eye was the plans that news organisations have around developing new businesses and this mysterious finding: “While mobile phones, e-readers and social media remain the top propescts in 2011, responses show that managers are generally less enthusiastic about these opportunities than in 2010.” The full report is being being available to download at the website.
2. Help me Investigate networks.
The collaborative website that helps people investigate issues of shared concern has recently refined the proposition into various strands including health, welfare and education.
Currently Paul is calling on interested bloggers to get involved in a Help Me Investigate health project looking at some of the data on GP surgeries’ patient list numbers. More on that here: http://helpmeinvestigate.com/health/
3. Sky in Tyne and Wear.
It was fascinating to hear from Simon Bucks about the video journalism experiment going on in the north east. The unease from local newspaper editors in the room was palpable as he described how a team of 13 journalists including nine dedicated video journalists were starting work in a patch chosen for its sporting enthusiasim and clear sense of self-identity.
— Robin Morley (@mrrobinmorley) February 23, 2012
As well as the original content that large team is producing, the broadcaster is also encouraging submitted video and self-serve events listings in the locality. One to watch.
4. Launch of Media and Digital Enterprise (Made).
The UK Winner of last year’s Google IPI award for news innovation was officially launched in a low key event at the end of the main sessions. Any budding news entrepreneur looking to develop a business involving data journalism should find this music to their ears – mentoring, software and support on offer. Simply add your details to the form before March 31 [Disclosure: I am involved in delivering some of the training support].
5. Open data cities
A typically barnstorming finale from Greg Hadfield inspired the audience into thinking about data and the role of local journalists in not just acquiring data for stories but being the facilitators for city-level conversations. A whole new way of interacting with the citizens formally known as readers.
— John Thompson (@johncthompson) February 23, 2012
It was not just a great talk, it was a rallying cry to those of us who value data journalism to think about how we can collaborate to make such things happen. Anyone?
From getting people offline to providing more detail about formatting – the notes below were sent to me and other attendees of the Culture Hack North event today. I thought the points made about what developers want from data sets would be hugely useful to any organisation looking to get started with opening up data.
Thanking Ashley Mann of Opera North for agreeing to post it here and share it more widely – he’s @biglittlethings on twitter and well worth a follow!
As you have embarked down the road of thinking about what data you might release to the public I thought it might be helpful to share some feedback from the developers about what is/isn’t useful data, what formats are useable etc.
More is more: the more data you can release, the better!
Live: The developers were very keen to point out that the best data is live, it is something that they can access and be certain that it is completely up to date, there are a number of ways of achieving this that I’d be happy to explain if you are interested.
Accessible: I would like to stress that Word documents/pdfs are not useable formats as far as developers are concerned, csv or similar is best. Or simply (as the National Railway Museum have done) stick it into a Google doc spreadsheet - accessible and stored in the cloud so you don’t need to worry about bandwidth/servers/etc. A lot of the developers have said it’d be great if the data you provided for the event could be made available online.
Consistent: quite a few of you provided data that was quite inconsistent, for example dates that either referred to a specific date e.g. 1/1/2001 and/or a date range e.g. 1999-2005 in the same field – this renders this field completely useless to a developer or means that they have to go through and convert everything so that it is consistent (time-consuming and not a lot of fun)
Meaningful: some data was provided with no date or way of relating it to a specific time/place in the real world (i.e. a date), this makes it fairly unuseable. key pieces of information are place and time wherever possible
Semantic: Quite a few of the developers said it would’ve been nice to have more ‘human’ data, opinions, feedback, reviews etc. This would’ve allowed them to think more creatively about the use of the data.
Media: Developers also said that the best data was a mixture of figures, copy and also media e.g. photos and/or video
I think the organisations that probably got the most out of the event were those that managed to come along and be there in person. This not only allowed them to meet the developers but through doing so meant that they could explain their data in more depth and discuss potential ideas with the developers. I’d encourage you all to try and get along to any future events – I think there is a huge amount you could get out of it.