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Archive of posts with the category
Events

  • SNDMakes: Nine good reasons to attend SNDMakes

    Earlier this month I was lucky enough to rep Knight Lab and Medill at SNDMakes-SF, a rapid prototyping event that preceded the Society for News Design’s annual workshop. Over the course of two and a half days, 28 media and tech professionals formed seven teams — appropriately named after San Francisco neighborhoods or landmarks — and swiftly conceptualized, designed and developed prototypes aimed at answering the central question: “How might we grow the news and...

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  • SND panel: How designers can try to correct for the unconscious bias in design

    At last week’s Society of News Design’s San Francisco Conference, three speakers hosted a panel on the application of unconscious bias in design: Sanny Lin, a product designer at Bloc; Martin Gee, senior art director at Time; and Tory Hargro, a product design manager at Facebook. Unconscious biases are the unconscious clichéd beliefs we hold about certain social groups. While we may consciously loathe the biases, numerous studies and research show that we act on...

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  • NICAR16: They're coming for us: How platforms shape the way we tell stories

    One of the recurring themes of NICAR was how graphics reporters and news apps developers are grappling with new distribution platforms like Facebook Instant Articles, Google AMP and even Snapchat. There is no one canonical version of a graphic. Instead, you might create different versions of it for different platforms: a fancy D3 interaction for the mobile web, a fun GIF for Twitter and a static image for Facebook Instant Articles. One of the key...

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  • NICAR16: Tackling federal election campaign finance data

    In an election year, NICAR was bound to feature plenty of election-themed sessions.One of the more interesting that I caught was “Election: Reverse-engineering campaign finance stories,” in which Aaron Bycoffe, Carrie Levine, and Derek Willis walked the audience through the steps they took to break various campaign finance stories. Using an open-source parser to find small donations In quarterly filings with the Federal Election Commission, candidates must declare how much they’ve raised and spent, among...

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  • NICAR16: A glimpse at an Excel-free future thanks to relational databases

    Some people come to NICAR with goals, whether they were networking goals or technical goals or partying goals. I came to my first NICAR with next to nothing. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, other than it being half a week’s worth of sessions and panels about data, journalism, and everything in between, which it turns out, is quite a bit. One thing I had been meaning to learn for a while, though, was...

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  • NICAR16: Visualization designed for the human brain

    Data visualizations must tell a good story. But even the best stories might get lost in the translation to a chart, infographic, or map and end up in the dreaded WTF Viz hall of fame. In a session called “Information design for the human brain,” BuzzFeed reporter Peter Aldhous and MediaShift metrics editor and curator Allie Kanik highlighted different ways of encoding data and shared their tips and tricks for deciding the appropriate visualization for...

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  • Say hello to Knight Lab at NICAR16!

    Hello, NICAR 2016! We’re Knight Lab, and we’d love to meet you. Find us in person or online throughout the weekend, or at the Hacks/Hackers Colorado Meetup we're sponsoring on Thursday night. Two exciting things: We’re hiring! We’ll soon have a presence in San Francisco! (Though we’re not hiring there.) Can't wait to meet you all! Here's who we are and where we'll be: Faculty and staff Emily Withrow — Faculty Joe Germuska — Director...

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  • MozFest 2015: Gamification for a better understanding of the world

    I was an avid gamer when I had the luxury of time, which is not an affordance you can indulge when you go to Northwestern. The games I enjoyed the most were those that not only had me immersed in a new world but the ones that had me learning along the way. I can vividly recall enjoying the Assassin’s Creed series because of its (somewhat accurate) historical context. Even though I was fighting as...

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  • MozFest 2015: From climate change to digital design, you may need to change your language

    Ask me what my biggest take-away was from hours of logging tape for NPR’s ongoing series on the United Nations Conference on Climate Change in Paris, and I will say, “If you want to ensure that your audiences are educated, empathetic and responsive, responsible you'll have to speak their language." In the past few weeks, I’ve listened to (and rewound, slowed down, and re-listened to) some of the world’s leading scientists describe what went right...

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  • MozFest 2015: Why open-source, -science, -knowledge, etc. can't be passive

    At MozFest you’ll hear the word “open” a lot – open data, open news, open knowledge, open science, open web and so on. I wondered, though, what does “open” really mean? A few years ago, I found out about open source software. My understanding at the time was that open sourcing a project was simply allowing other people to see its code. That simple understanding was enough to get by. But after hearing “open” prepended...

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  • MozFest 2015: Why data visualization for mobile shouldn't hurt

    As data journalists, we tend to focus on visualizing our numbers beautifully for desktops. We pour over D3.js line charts and spend hours getting the tooltips on our maps just right. And right before our deadlines, we’ll throw in some CSS media queries for mobile screens and call it a day. I know I’ve been a culprit more than once. One of my favorite sessions was Aaron William’s MozFest session “Crafting new visualization techniques for...

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  • Why you shouldn't talk yourself out of attending your first hackathon

    For some reason, in my head, I’ve always had a really vivid image of what a hackathon might look like: a conference for brilliant individuals (who probably self-taught themselves how to code when they were 11-years-old), madly typing away on their computer and seeing possibilities that I couldn’t see. I’d probably meet the next CEO of Silicon Valley’s newest tech start-up. Or, meet other superhero geniuses in the form of young 20-year-old bodies. So, when...

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  • ONA15: How news organizations build simple bots to help report the news

    It’s no secret that newsrooms are increasingly using bots to cut down on busy work. Software now routinely churns out quarterly earnings stories for The Associated Press and earthquake alerts for Los Angeles Times, freeing reporters to pursue more in-depth projects. And while no bot can write 3,000-word investigative stories, it can assist reporters by alerting them to new data and filtering the information for them. While the idea of creating a bot may sound...

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  • Event recap: Kickstarter for Journalism

    On Friday, Knight Lab co-sponsored an event with Kickstarter and Cards Against Humanity, whimsically entitled "How to journalism in a Scary World if you don’t have a Fancy Grant." The event brought together journalists and other storytellers to talk about how they’ve supported their work and the various funding models you might be able to use as well. Nicole He was on hand to make a pitch for Kickstarter, which last year launched a journalism category. It’s obviously...

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  • NICAR15: Finding business data outside of "business" datasets

    If you want to uncover business news, never underestimate the power of looking at datasets that don’t look like traditional business datasets. Speaking in the “Investigating business with data” session at NICAR15, the Wall Street Journal’s Andrea Fuller and CNBC’s John Schoen provided a wealth of examples of stories written using not only traditional business datasets like the SEC's Edgar and FINRA but also non-traditional business data sets such as Medicare.gov. Datasets like Medicare.gov greatly...

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  • NICAR 2015: Jack of all trades, master of none?

    Participants in the NICAR conversation, "The 'hybrid reporter' identity crisis?" posted their official job titles and what they want their job titles to be. Despite the fact that neither drinking nor networking (“You need to be more sure of yourself!” Alex Duner wailed to me after an awkward introduction to his former colleagues) is really my thing, I found myself at the bar of the Marriott Marquis, in a circle of journalists from across the...

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  • NICAR 2015: Space Journalism and Remote Sensing

    Some of the coolest investigations that have been published over the last year have made use of remotely sensed data from satellites in space. Space is cool. And journalism is cool. So surely the combination of the two must be interesting. And while it didn’t involve firing rockets with journalists on them into orbit, a session at #NICAR15 titled “Space Journalism” introduced some really cool ideas about using satellite data to find and tell stories....

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  • NICAR 2015: On the necessity of interactivity

    Data. Interactive. D3. X charts and Y graphs that explain Z. I feel that we’ve reached a point where “interactive” has become an empty buzzword in journalism. It’s amazing how quickly interest and adoption of news apps and data visualization has grown in the last few years (just look at the sheer size of this year’s NICAR conference), but as interactive and data-driven journalism becomes more pervasive, we also need to reexamine the meaning of...

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  • NICAR 2015: Data from scratch — How to crowdsource data

    We know data tells us a lot. We write programs to automate data scraping. We spend hours creating data visualizations that help readers see what they need to see. We use data to make claims and generate stories that are reliable and have impact. Data is important and we seem to be surrounded by it. But that's not quite true. Sometimes, there is no data? A session at NICAR that really resonated with me was Data from Scratch:...

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  • NICAR 2015: Finding the elusive data/prose sweet spot

    Before I become a good data journalist, even an adept data journalist, there is a skill I really need to nail down: balancing data and anecdotes in an easy-to-understand narrative. Super simple stuff, right? Wrong. It’s a skill that I was drilled and tested on in a handful of courses at Medill, but I don’t feel I've reached the sweet-spot where numbers are present, yet not boring facts that most readers skip. Coming into NICAR...

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  • Say hello to Knight Lab at NICAR15!

    Knight Lab brought a big crew to Atlanta and we’d love to meet as many of you as possible. If you’re interested in talking some shop, sharing ideas, or just saying hello, keep your eye out for: Heather Billings (presenting PyCar, an introduction to Python, from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Thursday) Joe Germuska Ryan Graff Jordan Young Mallory Busch Alex Duner Anne Li Anushka Patil Luke Rague Kulwant Saluja Ashley Wu Nicole Zhu (facilitating...

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  • Rethinking the listicle. What can it do for "serious" news?

    Odds are, you’ve read more than a handful of listicles. They proliferate social media, they’re sweet and short (but short on nutrition), and in a culture of distraction, it's hard not to love a numbered article. This October, I facilitated a session at Mozilla Festival, seeking to discover where these listicles belong "serious" news reporting. The proposal might sound strange considering that most listicles are headlined with some variation of “50 hottest …” “8 simple...

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  • Mozfest 2014: Natural language processing in news

    Natural Language Processing is still very nascent within the field of journalism. Apart from a few great examples, the world of NLP has barely been tapped by news organizations. This year at Mozfest, I facilitated a session "How to find insight hidden in speeches, scripts and books with computers." In the days leading up to my session, I spent hours wrangling various datasets in hopes to create The Perfect Lesson Plan ™ complete with a...

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  • MozFest 2014: Finding inspiration in video games to teach technology

    Man, I’m still in love with MozFest. I know I sound like a kid who can’t quit talking about summer camp, but it’s my third MozFest and I’m as excited now as I was two years ago. Back in 2012 MozFest was was intimidating, exciting and incredibly fulfilling by the time all was said and done. It was a tough act to follow, but 2014 seems to have done it. Why? Probably because I once...

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  • MozFest 2014: Gotta lotta analog data? Crowdsourcing may make it useful for you and fun for readers

    When we think of data, we almost always think of computers. But when it comes to data that was created before the digital area —  handwritten notes, ancient maps or printed documents, for example — nothing beats human eyes to quantify and verify. And when many human eyes are needed, journalists have the option to crowdsource their data. At MozFest this weekend, Mike Tigas of ProPublica and Jeremy B. Merrill of The New York Times...

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  • MozFest 2014: My first time — a rookie's Mozfest experience

    On Wednesday night I was en route to London and getting nervous. “I’ve never attended a conference or a festival before,” I told Knight Lab’s Joe Germuska as we sat at Chicago's O’Hare International Airport just two days before MozFest kicked off. Joe assured me that MozFest was a good one, but I still had nerves. It wasn’t just that it was my first festival. I'd also had a proposal to facilitate a session accepted,...

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  • MozFest 2014: Designing products for news with the Werewolf game

    Yesterday I attended a fun and interactive MozFest session led by Melody Kramer, a digital strategist at NPR, in which she used the game Werewolf to teach how she makes products for NPR. Only, in our game, the scary Werewolf didn’t kill people, it killed features. In a traditional game of Werewolf: The moderator divides players into two secret teams – the werewolves and the villagers. The werewolves’ goal is to kill all of the...

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  • MozFest 2014: On community, and why it's not just a buzzword

    A couple years ago a 13-year-old boy in Ireland started to learn to code and built a game so successful it knocked Angry Birds off its No. 1 spot in the Irish App Store. At 13, I’m pretty sure I was still listening to Hilary Duff and fighting my sister for AIM time on the computer. I know why CoderDojo Global CEO Mary Moloney shared the story of game-making Harry at the MozFest kick-off to...

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  • MozFest 2014: Thinking about (and soon building) sentient articles

    Notes and questions from the MozFest session On the first day of MozFest, I went to an intriguing session called “Rise of the Sentient Articles.” Led by ProPublica’s Sisi Wei and Ryann Jones, the session encouraged participants to brainstorm the future of news powered by algorithms. What if articles modified themselves based on an individual reader’s needs? What if, rather than building news applications and interactive graphics that rely on user input, the content was...

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  • Event recap: Twitter talks elections, politics, and data

    In the eight years since Twitter launched, the platform has become an essential tool for modern journalists. Yes, it’s great source of interesting content and anecdotes for coloring your work. It’s also an undeniably effective platform from which to promote your work. But with more than a billion tweets posted every two days, the data and insight derived from those tweets is probably even more intriguing. Late last month, several members of the Twitter for...

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  • A hackathon for journalists, the highs and lows of the first Journalism School Hackathon

    This month saw the debut of the first ever Journalism School Hackathon, hosted by the UNC School of Journalism and Mass Communication. It was an exciting opportunity for forward-thinking and tech-savvy students from across the country to come together and use their combined powers to work on challenges a few local news outlets had developed. The participants were tasked with maintaining a focus on creating products that would be feasible, desirable and, perhaps most importantly,...

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  • Five data scraping tools for would-be data journalists

    This past Fall, I spent time with the NPR News Apps team (now known as NPR Visuals) coding up some projects, working mainly as a visual/interaction designer. But in the last few months, I’ve been working on a project that involves scraping newspaper articles and Twitter APIs for data. I was a relative beginner with Python — I’d pair coded a bit with others and made some basic programs, but nothing too complicated. I knew...

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  • Quick roundup of student sessions at IRE's CAR 2014 conference

    Students flocking to Sisi Wei's & Jeremy Merrill's "jobs and career straight talk unsession", photo by Ted Han. Being a student at a 1000+ people conference full of industry professionals can be an intimidating experience. Based on an unofficial survey, there were roughly 30 college students at the conference from schools around the US, Canada and Denmark. Their majors ranged from journalism and communication to statistics and computer science. While students were merely a small...

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  • Open Lab Hours bring out budding hacker journalists

    The Knight Lab student fellows began hosting Open Lab Hours each Wednesday evening this fall. The hours are an entirely student-run operation, with students providing instruction and insight to less-experienced web-makers and other students bringing new projects and ideas to pursue. Each week 10 to 12 students come to the Knight Lab to learn and collaborate on projects. Check out the video below (by Northwestern students Suyeon Son) to get a sense of what Open...

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  • MozFest 2013: Content customization for publishers

    One of my favorite ads of all time was one of the simplest: a 15-word Facebook ad created by an artist in New Zealand hawking a pendant he’d made that symbolized “safe passage over water.” I was a dedicated kayaker at the time, so what thrilled me the most was how this ad seemed to speak directly to me — even calling out “kayakers.” When it comes to news however, I’ve never been similarly awed by...

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  • MozFest 2013: Journalists should command the command line

    Journalists who want to learn more technology often jump into HTML, CSS and Javascript. Those are great places to start (as Knight Lab and others have written before), but if you want to maximize the potential of your computer, one of the first things you should learn is the command line! Some quick background: Regular computer users access the computer via a graphical user interface (GUI). This interface allows you to interact with the machine...

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  • MozFest 2013: If it ain't broke, break it — how and why to test your news site

    Moments following the Boston Marathon bombings, the Boston Globe's website shut down due to excessive traffic. And it stayed down. For hours. Suddenly, the state's most prominent news provider was no longer an information resource for arguably the state's most newsworthy event in years. As Dan Sinker, head of the Knight-Mozilla OpenNews project, and speaker at this year's MozFest so eloquently put it: this is a really stupid problem to have. Sinker teamed with Dylan...

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  • MozFest 2013: Measuring news engagement and impact

    I’ve been thinking and writing recently about how news organizations can purposefully and meaningfully measure engagement and impact. It turns out to be a common question and at MozFest on Saturday morning Knight-Mozilla OpenNews fellows Brian Abelson, Stijn Debrouwere, Annabel Church, Sonya Song and MIT Center for Civic Media researchers Erhardt Graeff and J. Nathan Matias helped lead a session on the subject. Organizing thoughts and ideas in the news analytics sessions. The session started...

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  • Come meet Knight Lab at ONA13

    Knight Lab brought a team to the Online News Association Conference and we're eager to talk to meet and talk to as many folks as possible. This year myself and Miranda are in Atlanta and will be hanging out at Knight Lab table on the ONA Midway and presenting throughout the conference. Catch us almost anytime on the Midway and in these sessions: Miranda: Friday 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. — Bringing Tech into the Classroom...

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  • Designing tools for investigation at the Hacks/Hackers Buenos Aires Media Party

    Above, Bike Storming's Mati Kalwill and the Lab's Joe Germuska exchange ideas and show each other project demos at the #hhba #mediaparty media fair. As I recently wrote, last week Joe and I had the privilege to participate in the Hacks/Hackers Buenos Aires Media Party. We prepared a couple of talks and spoke to the group: mine was about the current state of Knight Lab, and Joe's was about the future of journalism. We also prepared and facilitated a workshop on designing...

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  • Noticias del futuro Knight Lab: My talk at #hhba #mediaparty

    Hacks/Hackers Buenos Aires #MediaParty group photo by Ramiro Chanes Last week, my partner-in-crime and the chief nerd around the Lab, Joe Germuska, and I had the privilege to join what just might be the largest Hacks/Hackers gathering in the history of the grassroots journalism organization at the Hacks/Hackers Buenos Aires Media Party. The group is reporting over 900 people participated in its three-day gathering, with participants coming from all over North and South America, plus Africa! Ciudad Cultural...

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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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  • SEO for news — you might not know everything you should

    A month or two back I got roped into going to a happy-hour SEO seminar. Ugh. Talk about an acronym that doesn’t inspire joy in the typical journalist or even the typical hacker journalist: SEO. I’d heard it all before, I thought — keywords, links, URLs, metadata, etc. — but I agreed to go, wanting to appease a boss and deciding that at the very least I’d get to meet some folks and talk some...

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  • Want to build a data journalism team? You'll need these three people

    When I started using software to analyze data as a reporter in the late 1980s, "data journalism" ended once my stories were published in the newspaper. Now the publication of the story is just the beginning. The same data can also be turned into compelling visualizations and into news applications that people can use long after the story is published. So data journalism — which was mostly a one-person job when I started doing it...

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  • National Day of Civic Hacking Comes to Chicago

    Hackers, unite! For the first time, civic hackers across the nation will come together to participate in one of the largest collaborative hacking projects, National Day of Civic Hacking. The initial idea came from the White House’s desire to establish programming that increased government transparency. They reached out to hacking organizations like SecondMuse to help organize hackathon events across the country. These events will use data released by federal agencies to build useful tools that...

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  • Travis Swicegood's real world data lessons from Texas Tribune

    Travis Swicegood Travis Swicegood, director of technology at  Texas Tribune, spoke this week at the latest Hacks/Hackers Chicago Meet-up about the challenges of working with public data — real world data, as Swicegood calls it. There are plenty of challenges in collecting, managing and presenting data from a state the size of Texas — 26 million people, 254 counties, five major cities and a gross state economy of $1.2 trillion. Swicegood shared just a few...

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  • Ignore your focus groups, test relentlessly, and other lessons from NU's entrepreneur conference

    Some of the the Knight Lab crew spent some time yesterday at the 2013 Entrepreneur@NU Conference yesterday, and I have to say, while we didn’t hear anything ground breaking, the team members in attendance agreed that it was inspiring to be around so much energy, so many new ideas, and so many folks who had built something new. It was also a good reminder of the trends in technology and startup culture that we try to keep...

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  • What we learned hosting three Chicago Crime Hacks

    On Saturday the Knight Lab hosted its third and final Chicago Crime Hack with an event at the Cibola co-working space in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood. We drew our largest crowd yet, got to meet a ton of new folks, came up with some new ideas, and ate some delicious tamales in the process. A group of hackers works at the Cibola co-working space in Pilsen. It felt to us like a success, but it’s fair...

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  • Design thinking on Chicago's crime data — Chicago Crime Hack

    On Saturday the Knight Lab hosted its second in a series of three Chicago Crime Hacks, which help hackers explore Chicago’s crime data via the Chicago Tribune’s Crime API. This weekend, in addition to all the usual hack day activities, attendees participated in a unique design thinking exercise. Hack day attendees participated in a design thinking exercise. After a brief bit of instruction from Joe Germuska, Heather Billings and David Eads about how to navigate the API, curious hackers, students,...

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  • Chicago Crime Hack, day one

    The Knight Lab hosted its first ever hack day on Saturday and about 15 civic-minded hackers showed up to tinker with the Chicago Tribune’s Chicago Crime API. A group works at the Knight Lab's Chicago Crime Hack Day. The day started with a quick round of introductions from a diverse group. Some were professional developers with day jobs building software for trading firms or IBM, while others were self-described apprentices and hobbyists. No matter, everyone...

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  • Numbers and narrative: A computer scientist at NICAR

    NICAR 2013 was my first journalism conference and, as a computer scientist, I can't help but wonder what the implications are of this unprecedented NICAR showing — the largest ever attendance at the conference. The world is changing, to be sure. We are no longer in an age where it is okay to be afraid of mathematics. Everyone from the worlds of journalism, government, and business must become math savvy and computer literate. Today, even some...

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  • NICAR Lightning Talks: A round-up

    Undoubtedly the most attended session at NICAR 2013, the Lightning Talks provided a delightful relief from the heavier (thought certainly worthwhile) information-laden talks that make up the bulk of the conference. Eleven journalists took on the challenge of presenting a topic of their choice in five minutes or fewer. It was lighthearted and fun, but concise but valuable. There’s a rumor that a video of the talks will appear sometime soon (and pictures have surfaced),...

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  • Spreadsheets bridge gap between developers and reporters

    This is my first NICAR, but someone mentioned that NICAR 2012 was “The Year of the Map”, with panels, tutorials, and discussion otherwise centered around new, exciting tools like Mapbox and Leaflet. We invented new terms like BoyerMaps and used the rest of the year to make some incredible map-based news apps. If NICAR 2013 has a theme among its divergent, widely varied sessions, it is the resurgence of an antiquated tool: the spreadsheet. From...

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  • Highlights from NICAR's Year in CAR presentation

    This morning’s Year in CAR presentation at NICAR 2013 provided a great look back not only at some of the great investigative work of the last year, but also some really good visualizations and presentations. The full slide deck from Mark Horvit and Megan Luther’s presentation should be on the IRE site soon, but below are some of my favorites from their list of 2012 data-driven highlights. Click through for some of the great work...

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  • Knight Lab gears up for NICAR

    On Wednesday the Knight Lab will head to Louisville for NICAR. It’s the biggest gathering of our tribe and we couldn’t be more excited. The schedule is stacked with sessions on everything from data visualization to basic Python programming to building news apps with Django. A few Knight Lab staffers and faculty will add their insight to the mix at the following sessions: Mobile + DataViz: Friends or Frenemies: Miranda Mulligan will talk about data...

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  • Pair-programming-ish learning model and Code With Me Miami thoughts

    First, this post is incredibly tardy, yet I am going to publish it anyway. This Lab-hosted event was just too cool! Two weekends ago, Feb 2-3, Knight Lab hosted a Code With Me workshop at the University of Miami's School of Communication. This was the second of the two-day introductory web-making workshop for journalists offered by co-founders and Medill School alumns Tom Giratikanon and Sisi Wei. The first one was hosted by NPR in D.C. last...

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  • What j-schools can learn from music conservatories: CompJ

    Was Computation + Journalism an academic conference or an industry conference? It's hard to say, especially when nearly every panel through its two days featured a working journalist and an educator, and an equally diverse audience pressed questions from many ends of the field. Unsurprisingly, the debates that came to the fore early and often centered around that intersection between educators and practicing journalists. As a student in a journalism school, I paid special attention...

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  • Computation + Journalism demo projects

    This week a few Knight Lab staffers, students, and faculty made it to the Computation + Journalism Symposium at Georgia Tech. It’s been a great couple of days filled with new ideas, lively Twitter debates, and plenty of new faces. One of the highlights so far has been the demo presentation Thursday night. We thought these innovative projects and ideas deserved some attention beyond the conference so we’ve collected descriptions and screenshots of as many...

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  • Knight Lab's MozFest 2012 wrap up

    Last week, a significant portion of the Knight Lab team was fortunate enough to join the Mozilla Festival in London, November 9-12. This incredible event, hosted by the Mozilla Foundation, is in its third year and intends to motivate an entire generation of web makers. As far as we can tell, they are doing this job well. In fact, during the Sunday morning keynote, Mozilla's executive director, Mark Surman shared an anecdote that an attendee had likened #MozFest to #SXSWi in its early...

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  • MozFest: What the heck is a hack?

    This year’s MozFest offered a session titled Jumping between Hacks and Hackers Communities, so as one of the newly appointed organizers of the Chicago Hacks Hackers I decided to attend and meet some people in the same ship. OK, really I just wanted to ask them for some pointers since I have found it to be a challenge getting Chicagoans in consistent enough attendance to build a community. Mariano from Buenos Aires showed us a...

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  • MozFest: Turning data in to a story in three hours? Almost.

    This year at MozFest, I responded to a “call for help” from three African nations to solve the mysterious drop in life expectancy they experienced. In a session called “Data Expeditions: Scout the Data Landscape with our Data Sherpas” (organized by a caped Michael Bauer) all participants split into groups to research and tell a story. My group, made of people with diverse backgrounds, reminded me how valuable a wide variety of skill sets can...

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  • Oh, the places you'll go, Hacker Journalists!

    My, how far we've come. We, meaning the OpenNews community. A little over a year ago, I was sitting in Berlin with 20 amazing, talented individuals — five of whom were to be the first OpenNews fellows — and five of the best news organizations in the world. Gunner, Michelle Thorne, Mark Surman, Ryan Merkley, Dan Sinker (and his beard) were all in attendance. We called our event #hacktoberfest, and it was the penultimate stage...

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  • One person's work, another's new idea at MozFest

    I have a rocky relationship with note taking. In middle school, my teachers encouraged me to copy their presentation slides word for word, insisting that putting pen to paper would help me retain information. I quickly realized that I would learn nothing that way, and I still struggle to note important and interesting events because in the most interesting moments, note-taking is the last thing I want to think about. This weekend, MozFest showed me...

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  • Dan on Data at MozFest

    I spent a lot of time at MozFest thinking about data and how we can use it as journalists. Here’s a quick recap of the sessions I attended and the lessons I learned. Data Expeditions More than 50 journalists and engineers followed a group of  “data sherpas” in to a role-playing game-style hack on datasets in the “Data Expeditions” session. The three-hour session was intended to be a hack and teams — consisting of storytellers,...

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