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Archive of posts with the category
Apps & projects

  • How WSJ used data and design to show Americans their polarized politics and media

    If you want to see just how polarized America's media and political landscape has become, you’d have a hard time finding something more compelling than Blue Feed, Red Feed from the Wall Street Journal. The project shows the viewer two hypothetical Facebook news feeds — one that contains content from sources favored by very liberal Facebook users, and a second that contains content from sources favored by very conservative users — each of which contain...

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  • How a holiday shopping story led to an investigation of equal access to retail services based on race

    For those of us who aren’t retail executives or addicted to Amazon’s Prime service, Bloomberg’s story on last-minute holiday shopping in November probably didn’t register. The story basically laid out the number of people the retailer could reach with its new Prime Free Same-Day Delivery service and how it might impact brick and mortar retailers like Target and Wal-Mart during the holiday season. But to the reporters who wrote it, that story provided the kernel...

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  • Transforming type: The changing landscape of digital type design and typography

    I’ve been involved in print design since my high school days of working on the school newsmagazine. It’s where I got my start learning the basics of design, layout, typography, and it’s what became the foundation for all my other design-related ventures. Only within the past school year, however, have I started getting into type design and studying typefaces. Type is a very nuanced field to get into—there’s a lot of history to a practice...

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  • How I built my first mobile app scraper

    Scraping web pages is a well documented process. There are plenty of guides on how to pull information using plugins like Python’s Beautiful Soup or browser extensions like Kimono. Many web applications even provide public APIs for gathering information, such as Facebook’s Graph API. Yet, there is a growing set of popular mobile apps that do not have a public API. Apps like Yik Yak, Tinder, and others contain a wealth of information about the...

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  • An inside look at The Guardian's effort to document deaths at the hands of law enforcement in "The Counted"

    The Guardian's "The Counted" documents law enforcement killings in the United States. On Nov. 15, Richard Perkins was fatally shot by officers in Oakland, California. His death marked the 1,000th entry in The Guardian’s The Counted’s database that now includes more than 1,063 names. The project launched June 1, and has quickly won acclaim for its relatively robust law enforcement killings database, which is generated via tips submitted on the Guardian website or on social...

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  • Uncle Sam's digital makeover and the lessons it holds for publishers

    The website for the US Digital Services Playbook looks like anything but a typical government website. Find it at playbook.cio.gov/. In September, 18F, a team of designers and developers within the General Services Administration (GSA), and the United States Design Services (USDS) released the US Web Design Standards, a project that aims to unite all government websites under a single set of guidelines that guides visual design and user experience. This idea of creating a...

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  • No soft focus: Behind the design and launch of Broadly

    When Broadly, Vice’s female-centric vertical debuted on August 3, 2015, I was struck not just by the kinds of content they were putting out, but also by its clean yet personable design that complemented its unique voice. Unlike the heavy black color scheme and font weights of Vice Media’s other sites, Broadly was bold in its use of color, typography and grids. I was curious about how Vice designed and launched Broadly, a site that...

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  • How the Washington Post used data and natural language processing to get people to read more news

    In April, Washington Post announced that it had set a new single-month traffic record, with more than 52 million unique visitors. The figure represented not only a new record, but also a 65 percent year-over-year gain that led other big-name publishers, according to the Post. Publisher Frederick J. Ryan praised the addition of new editorial staffers and awards, and then called special attention to engagement: While unique visitors were up 65 percent, pageviews were up...

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  • How and why NPR made 15 years worth of audio available across the web

    Screenshot of NPR's new embeddable audio player. Last month, NPR announced that it would make 800,000 pieces of audio available to embed across the web. While NPR has offered limited embedding since 2009, the depth and breadth of this project is new. It's the first time that NPR will offer a single embeddable player with access to such a large amount of content. The work to design and build the player began earlier this year and was led...

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  • How Byron Lutz untangled the Calderon family's connections and what it tells us about social network analysis

    On Friday, February 21, 2014, two members of a Southern California family dynasty were indicted on a series of political corruption charges, including tax fraud, money laundering, and bribery. Two members of that family — Tom Calderon, a consultant and a former assemblyman, and Ron Calderon, a state senator — would surrender themselves by the following Monday, both pleading not guilty to the charges. Tied to their alleged wrongdoings was an extensive network of people...

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  • Andrew Golis on launching This.cm and creating a social "magazine experience" on the web

    Occasionally we'll do a Q&A with an impressive maker or strategist from media and its fringes. Each person brings a unique perspective on journalism, publishing and technology. Catch up and/or follow the series here. Up until the end of last year, my daily news experience involved sifting through endless tweets and clickbait on Facebook. When I got an invite to This, a link-sharing social network that aims to “find and share the web’s best stories,...

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  • How the NYT graphics team prepped for and carried out its Sochi Olympics plan

    The New York Times’ graphics team began working on the many explanatory, video-based interactives and composite images for the Winter Olympics many months in advance. When the Olympics roll around every two years, virtually every news site covers it in one way or another. For interactive teams in particular, the Olympic spectacle provides a wealth of opportunity to craft stories that are beautiful, functional and informational. For Sochi many newsrooms put together great packages (some...

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  • How a young developer stumbled in to journalism and landed at FiveThirtyEight

    Dhrumil Mehta On Friday, FiveThirtyEight announced that Dhrumil Mehta (a former Knight Lab student fellow) would be joining their team as a database journalist. It was fun news for us to hear, particularly when you consider that a year and half ago journalism wasn’t even a small part Mehta’s career plan. At the time, Mehta was a senior here at Northwestern and six months from completing a bachelor’s degree in philosophy (with a cognitive science...

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  • Preserving interactive news projects with Newseum, OpenNews and Pop Up Archive

    Photo by Ted Han during the #apparchive designathon at Newseum with OpenNews and Pop Up Archive On Sunday, March 2, Knight-Mozilla OpenNews, the Newseum and Pop Up Archive hosted a one-day conference focused on solving a fairly new problem: How to preserve the new breed of complex interactive projects that are becoming more prevalent in news. While print newspapers are relatively well-preserved, we as an industry do a poor job of preserving interactive databases and...

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  • Journalism's biggest data experiment, EveryBlock, relaunches

    Plenty has been written about EveryBlock since word came last month that the site’s owners planned to revive the site after it was abruptly shut down 11 months ago. But last week OpenGovChicago created a unique opportunity for developers, local news lovers, and open data folks: the chance to speak directly with the Comcast executives in charge of bringing EveryBlock back. The event generated plenty of interest in Chicago, the city that gave birth to...

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  • Behind the dialect map interactive: How an intern created The New York Times' most popular piece of content in 2013

    NYT's most popular piece of content in 2013 — “How Y’all, Youse and You Guys Talk” generates a personalized dialect map based upon user responses compared to data from more than 350,000 survey responses collected in 2013. How do you create the most popular piece of content of the year at one of the nation’s most prestigious news outlet? Well, for starters, study or consider careers in politics, law, and philosophy before eventually deciding that...

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  • New journ-tech community in Miami + Follow-up to the Code with Me Miami workshop

    The February, we sponsored Code With Me's second workshop in Miami. We asked our friend, Miami-based journalist and Code with Me Miami mentor, Rebekah Monson, to give us a follow-up explaining how journalists in the area have since started their own Hacks/Hackers chapter and have been hosting weekly open hack nights with the Code For Miami Brigade at one of the city's co-working spaces called The LAB Miami. Code With Me Miami aimed to teach 18 local journalists basic HTML, CSS and jQuery...

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  • The Department of Better Technology wants to get us one step closer to "Government as a platform"

    In our profile series, we often ask the question: If you could design an application that would solve any problem in the world, what would it be? Clay Johnson, the subject of our most recent profile, was recently awarded a Knight News Challenge grant, so he was ready with an answer substantial enough to deserve a piece of its own. With Adam Becker, Johnson has started a company, the Department of Better Technology. They are designing...

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  • Civic Needs App helps developers find interesting problems to solve

    At a National Civic Hack Day event in Chicago earlier this month, one thing was clear: a lot of talented developers want to use their skills for a good cause. The problem is that it's difficult to get all that talent collaborating and working on the right problems. That's why Ryan Briones, who does civic development for the City of Chicago, came up with a new idea he calls the Civic Needs App. With the...

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  • My first news apps team: Making the North by Northwestern housing guide

    This post by Knight Lab student fellow Tyler Fisher, originally appeared on Knight-Mozilla OpenNews' Source. The North by Northwestern housing guide project we built Last week, I launched my first team-developed news app with a group of amazing student news nerds and peers: Hilary Fung, Dan Hill, Rebecca Lai, Sheng Wu and Katie Zhu. We developed a housing guide for incoming freshmen to Northwestern University who are in the process of applying for freshman housing. It includes an interactive map of campus, filters to narrow down housing options, photos...

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  • 'Bottomless' stories, Instagram mashup and more: This Week on Twitter

    Each week our very own Stephen Autar tracks the tech and journalism conversations on Twitter as he runs the @KnightLab handle. He offers a recap of the most intriguing and important stories each Friday. This week, one of the stories I found most interesting was that magazine publisher Future is reportedly selling $1 million in tablet magazines per month. I know how much I dislike tablet magazine designs for the most part so that seemed like a...

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  • Evening Edition's big rush to return to slow news

    The beauty of startup life is how quickly things happen. For Evening Edition — a journalism startup dedicated, ironically, to slow news —quick meant taking a spark of an idea from a Wednesday night Twitter conversation, building it, and launching the product four days later. “In less than a week’s time we went from a joke on twitter, to something that was live and people could subscribe to,” says Jim Ray, one of Evening Edition’s co-founders....

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  • Alan Taylor's journey from technologist to journalist

    Alan Taylor, photo editor and curator of The Atlantic’s InFocus, hadn’t planned to become a journalist. But he did just that a few years ago while working as a programmer for Boston.com. For years, he’d been using interesting pictures to craft photographic series for friends and family. “I seemed to have a knack for seeing these jumbled photographs and putting them in an order that felt right,” Taylor says. “It may not be chronological, but...

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  • Twitter on technology and journalism

    Each week our very own Stephen Autar tracks the tech and journalism conversations on Twitter as he runs the @KnightLab handle. He offers a recap of the most intriguing and important stories each Friday. Read the inaugural post below: If you’ve been following the news this week, you’ve surely seen news of David Petraeus’ resignation following news of his affair. What is most incredible about this story is how investigators unearthed the affair using data...

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