Posts

Archive of posts with the category
Lab projects

  • A Google Spreadsheets change affecting TimelineJS users

    Google recently changed something about their Sheets service which is causing many people to run into an error when they are making a new timeline. Note: there should be no impact on existing timelines! After this change, many of you click on the "preview" and get this message: An unexpected error occurred trying to read your spreadsheet data [SyntaxError] Timeline configuration has no events. There is a straightforward work-around, but it requires those of you who have...

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  • Software developers interested in journalism: Northwestern and The Washington Post want you!

    Northwestern University and The Washington Post are offering a unique opportunity for two talented software developers interested in applying their programming skills in media and journalism. Here’s the proposition: (1) a full-tuition scholarship to earn a master’s degree in journalism at Northwestern University, followed by (2) a six-month paid internship with The Post’s world-class engineering team, with the possibility of subsequent full-time employment. These opportunities are made possible by the John S. and James L....

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  • Knight Lab tools now embeddable on Medium

    We’re excited to announce that instances of TimelineJS, StoryMapJS, and JuxtaposeJS can now be embedded directly into your Medium posts. To make this possible, we’re using Embedly, a service that makes it easy to embed content into a variety of sites. Embedly works well with Medium, which is one of the most popular platforms that supports the service. While you may be able to embed our tools on a number of other platforms using the...

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  • Letting readers get a word in: An experiment in reader engagement

    Forward-thinking journalists value "reader engagement," and that generally means that readers are actively contributing to the story instead of just consuming it. What happens when we take reader engagement to an extreme? What kinds of reader contributions are useful and which are just gimmicks? The Tow Center's 2015 Guide to Crowdsourcing says that "news consumers clearly have stories to share, but they don’t necessarily want to write the news." If not the actual copy, then...

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  • A few small improvements to StoryMapJS

    Based on research and user testing, we're making a number of small changes to StoryMapJS. We think they make the tool easier to use, but we wanted to explain the changes for any veteran users who might notice them. Thumbnail preview First, we made a simple change to the media section: you'll now see a thumbnail preview of whatever media you've attached to the slide. This should make it easier for people to know what they are looking at...

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  • Challenges in structured journalism: Why it's hard to write the same story every day

    This article is a part of a series written by Knight Lab Professional Fellow Steve Tarzia documenting his work to develop a crowdsourced model to support the ongoing content creation needs of GunMemorial.org. Follow the series here. The Pulitzer Prize awarded two weeks ago to the Washington Post’s police shootings database was a victory for everyone working on telling big stories with data. The Post’s database is a great example of structured journalism, and what I...

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  • City Hall Monitor seeks to help reporters find newsworthy documents

    This week we’re happy to announce a first iteration of City Hall Monitor, a project designed to help reporters in Chicago find unique, newsworthy documents among a slew of mundane government paperwork. Currently, a journalist who searches the city’s archives is likely to be buried under a pile of boring documents that are unlikely to provide much journalistic value (think approvals for awnings or sidewalk cafés and notes of congratulation or gratitude). Though some aggregate...

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  • Former fellow takes project from Knight Lab to VICE as Knight-VICE innovator

    Knight Lab alumni fellow, Farahnaz Mohammed, received a nice bit of news recently, when she learned that she’d made the cut for the inaugural class of Knight-VICE innovators. Mohammed is among four young journalists selected to develop innovative ideas in journalism that’ll be supported by VICE, Knight Foundation, and City University of New York. Farahnaz Mohammed Mohammed, who graduated from Northwestern’s master’s in journalism program earlier this year, will continue work on a platform she...

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  • Plotting a course and finding direction for a new podcasting project

    Since joining Knight Lab as student fellows in April, Michael Martinez and I have been thinking about podcasting technology and online audio in hopes that a project idea would emerge. We're obviously not alone. The last 12 months have seen the rise of highly popular shows like Serial and advanced mobile or in-car "podcatching" platforms. Just last week, podcasts marked another milestone when President Obama appeared on Marc Maron's WTF podcast. Unfortunately, a handful of...

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  • Spring 2015 Collaborative Innovation class presentations

    Tomorrow, Wednesday, June 3, journalism and computer science students in the latest version of Northwestern’s “Collaborative Innovation in Journalism and Technology” class will unveil the prototypes they’ve built over the past 10 weeks. You’re invited to see what they’ve come up with. The projects they will be presenting are: Composite: A provocative project that shows the faces of individuals around a location based on publicly available photos. ImageTweet: A tool that makes tweeting pictures with...

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  • Bootstrap for beginners

    When I first showed up at Knight Lab, I heard a lot about a thing called Bootstrap. In particular, one student fellow was hesitant to use it, much to the disbelief of the staff and guests who dropped by. “How can you not use Bootstrap?” one said. “Practically half the internet is built on it.” Well, I thought. That sounds important. I’d best try this out. While I can’t speak to the statistic of half...

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  • The art of failing

    I have a fear of failure. I don’t like it when my inbox has more than five emails sitting in there (at the time of this first blog post draft’s conception, it was at 400). I cringe when my desktop is cluttered with screenshots and downloads. These, for me, are true indicators of the clutter that accumulates in life and how success is measured by organizing that clutter very, very well. Let me be clear,...

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  • What I learned building my first website

    Through sheer luck and a generous professor, I nabbed a two-month fellowship at Knight Lab after I graduated from Northwestern’s graduate journalism program, despite considering myself a web development newbie. I knew full well what the Lab did, but I never imagined getting involved on the development end. My aim at the start was to research a potential digital tool to aid in the practice of journalism and hand over a stack of paper to...

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  • Implementing SSL on Amazon S3 Static Websites

    Since this post was written, Amazon has launched AWS Certificate Manager, which provides certificates at no cost and substantially simplifies managing them for use in the AWS context. We recommend that readers investigate the AWS Certificate Manager product before following the guidance in this post. Every day, more and more websites are serving their pages using HTTPS. This can lead to warnings or complete failures when those sites want to embed content from other sites. Until recently, that...

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  • Pulitzer Prize-winning story features TimelineJS

    For the second time in three years, a Pulitzer Prize-winning story has featured a piece of Knight Lab technology. The TimelineJS instance the Daily Breeze created to "show the superintendent's machinations through the years." On Monday, the Daily Breeze won the prize in local reporting for its work investigating California’s Centinela Valley Union High School District and its superintendent’s outsize salary. Featured prominently in the series of stories was an instance of TimelineJS, Knight Lab’s...

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  • How four girls conspired to take down CAESAR

    Someone once said, “we should totally just stab Caesar.” Our school’s student account system, CAESAR, is the official course registration tool and is also the source of several frustrations for students. So my peers and I committed an infamy. We dared to totally take a stab at CAESAR. Each quarter, Knight Lab encourages its student fellows to think of how best to develop skills specific to our personal interests and needs. In the past, I’ve...

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  • New journalism/technology prototypes unveiled Wednesday

    On Wednesday, December 3, journalism and computer science students in the latest version of Northwestern’s “Collaborative Innovation in Journalism and Technology” class will unveil the prototypes they’ve built over the past 10 weeks. You’re invited to see what they’ve come up with. The students have been working since September, when I and Associate Prof. Larry Birnbaum of the computer science department in the McCormick School formed seven interdisciplinary teams out of the 25 students enrolled...

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  • What I learned building my first news product, JuxtaposeJS

      Just in time for last week's Online News Association Conference, Knight Lab announced the launch of JuxtaposeJS, a lightweight, easy-to-use, image comparison tool. Any product launch is exciting and I'm excited to see how journalists use JuxtaposeJS to tell stories. But from a personal perspective JuxtaposeJS is more than just a tool — it’s the first tool I’ve ever built from start to finish. It was also my first major Javascript project and I...

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  • Introducing JuxtaposeJS, an easy way to compare two frames

    We’re pleased to announce JuxtaposeJS, a new Knight Lab tool that helps journalists tell stories by comparing two frames, including photos and gifs. JuxtaposeJS is an adaptable storytelling tool and is ideal for highlighting then/now stories that explain slow changes over time (growth of a city skyline, regrowth of a forest, etc.) or before/after stories that show the impact of single dramatic events (natural disasters, protests, wars, etc.). For example, check out this NASA image...

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  • SoundCiteJS update makes the tool mobile and MP3 friendly

    Last year, we released the initial version of SoundCite, a tool that helps content creators add inline audio clips to their stories. It was designed to be easy to use for any author (no coding required). We open sourced the project and hoped that our users would guide us on future development. They have. Recently The New York Times and Al Jazeera published stories using customized versions of SoundCite that included the ability to do...

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  • Learning more about twXplorer's potential and pitfalls through user testing

    This is the second post in a series highlighting research and possible new directions for our Twitter search tool, twXplorer. I was in India working for CNN-IBN on their Citizen Journalist website searching for some meaningful way — any meaningful way — to share Twitter trends generated by the voices of everyday citizens when I first came across twXplorer. I was so excited! Wow, I thought, I must be able to share these histograms with my...

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  • From Sourcerous to Trendable: Nine new tech prototypes unveiled next week

    Nine new projects from teams of Northwestern journalism and computer science students demonstrate ways that technology could help journalists, publishers and media consumers. And you can see them unveiled next week. The final presentations in our unusual "Collaborative Innovation in Journalism and Technology" class take place at 6:30 p.m. (Chicago time), Wednesday, June 4 in the McCormick Tribune Center Forum. If you can attend, please let us know. If you can't, catch the live stream...

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  • Help us improve twXplorer, our Twitter search tool for journalists

    As part of his academic research, graduate student fellow Neil Holt is examining ways in which Knight Lab’s twXplorer might be updated to be more useful to working journalists. This is the first post in a series. Knight Lab is looking to bring its well-reviewed Twitter search tool, twXplorer to the next level over the next three months and we’re hoping you’ll help shape its future by telling us where you’d like to see it go....

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  • StoryMapJS' GigaPixel tool follows Game of Thrones adventure

    Last week we put the final touches on a StoryMapJS update. As we were wrapping things up, we started to look for fun way to show off the new GigaPixel tool, which allows you to use the StoryMap interface to explain what’s happening in a static image. Eventually we decided to follow the Game of Thrones character Arya through the show’s imagined world of Westeros. The Lab’s operations and project manager (and resident Game of...

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  • StoryMapJS Beta gets a fresh look, MapBox maps, and a new gigapixel image tool

    Back in December we released an alpha version of StoryMapJS, our tool to help journalists tell better stories with maps. Since then it’s been adopted by a number of journalists and deployed around the world — helping to tell the stories about boarding school runaways in England and chart the impact of the debt ceiling debate in the U.S. among many others. We have been refining StoryMapJS and rolled out a few bug fixes already,...

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  • New microsite to document and explore social network analysis in journalism

    Campaign contributions. Insider trading. Conflicts of interest. Each of these topics requires a journalist to understand relationships among people, places and organizations — social network analysis. The Knight Lab started exploring this subject in April 2013 by experimenting with software that makes it easier for journalists to perform SNA. Our next step: a Knight Lab microsite that serves as a hub for collective intelligence around the application of network analysis to journalism. The site is...

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  • Introducing the StoryMapJS Alpha, now with an authoring tool

    Where? is one of the fundamental questions journalists set out to answer, but often, the maps produced to accompany stories feel flat, or are hard to interpret. StoryMapJS is a new Knight Lab tool to help you connect the places of your story into a media-rich narrative. Like its sibling, TimelineJS, StoryMap makes it really easy to illustrate your work with photos, videos, sound, tweets and more. And today it's easier still: a couple of months...

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  • Nine new prototypes from journalism and computer science students

    Yesterday, 30 journalism and computer science students in Northwestern’s Collaborative Innovation in Journalism and Technology class presented nine new media prototypes. The prototypes, developed in a 10-week quarter, cater to various audiences in the media equation — “tools for journalists, software for publishers, and applications that could be useful or fun for media consumers.” Occasionally, promising prototypes will be further developed by Knight Lab. If you missed the presentation, a summary of the apps and...

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  • Nine new projects unveiled this week by journalism, computer science teams

    Journalism and computer science students from the latest “collaborative innovation" class at Northwestern will unveil nine new technology prototypes this week — and you can see the demos in person or via a live stream on Wednesday. The technologies they will be presenting are: Spectacle: An app for Google Glass that provides an augmented-reality experience exploring the Northwestern campus. TweetBeat: A service that helps a journalist find Twitter users worth following to keep up with...

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  • TimelineJS passes 31 million pageviews, 250k deployments

    When we pushed the final design and functionality of TimelineJS out to the world about 18 months ago, it was already a success for Knight Lab. It had been deployed at LeMonde, RadioLab, Gigaom and other big-name publishers. But in the year and half since, TimelineJS become a staple of the the web making world. In fact, early this month the 250,000th instance of TimelineJS was created and deployed. At around the same time reader...

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  • Slimformation is now Firefox-ready, just in time for the Mozilla Festival

    This update includes a number of technical updates plus a Firefox add-on We've made some updates to Slimformation which include a number of technical updates and a Firefox add-on (the first version was built as a Chrome extension). Slimformation is a prototype for a tool to help readers to track and improve their reading habits. After installation and, say, a week of reading via the browser, a reader can see how much time they have...

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  • Announcing StoryMapJS developer release — a new tool for storytellers

    TimelineJS is the Knight Lab's most popular project, and is one of the most widely used interactive storytelling tools on the web. Today we're excited to announce an early-access release of its sibling, StoryMapJS. Like TimelineJS, StoryMapJS is primarily developed by Medill professor Zach Wise, based on his experience developing interactive news projects at The New York Times and the Las Vegas Sun. While TimelineJS makes it easy for you to tell stories based on...

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  • What's next for twXplorer? Help us decide.

    Just over two weeks ago we launched twXplorer, a tool to help people make sense of searches and find interesting conversations on Twitter. When we launched the tool we didn’t know how it would be received or what use people would find for it. So far, we've been pretty happy to have more than 13,000 people use twXplorer and to get a few kind words from The Atlantic (“control your own little battalion of news-finding...

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  • TimelineJS — Now with even more Knight Lab

    From the beginning, TimelineJS has been a project of Northwestern University Knight Lab. However, when Zach Wise first set out to create it, the Knight Lab had a less developed software process and identity, so Zach presented Timeline as a product of his personal Verite.co website. Since then, two things have happened: TimelineJS has become wildly popular, and the Knight Lab has established cohesive design guidelines and a more methodical software development process. In the...

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  • twXplorer — A smarter way to search Twitter

    TwXplorer, a new social-media research tool launched today by the Knight Lab, started with one journalist who told us he had a problem. Peter Slevin, a Medill faculty member, has been working on a book about Michelle Obama. As part of that work, he periodically tracks her place in the "global conversation" by searching Twitter for references to the first lady. What he gets back: a long list of tweets mentioning Michelle Obama. He can...

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  • Journalists! We're building a tool to help you discover obscure relationships and we'd like your help

    Can new software help journalists do a better job of gathering, organizing and making sense out of newsworthy information? That's the question the Knight Lab has set out to answer through our Untangled project. When Joe Germuska wrote about Untangled in April, we were imagining a multipurpose "browser-based knowledge management" tool that would help journalists keep track of information they found online. Since then, we have explored this idea through a variety of approaches: by...

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  • Disqus helps Knight Lab gather feedback on Refine—Better Commenting

    Earlier this week Disqus published an article about Knight Lab’s Refine—Better Commenting technology. The post is the first semi-tangible result of a conversation we started with Disqus many months ago and one that might help shape the future of the technology. Refine—Better Commenting basically takes high-volume comment feeds (think CNN, where certain stories attract thousands of comments), analyzes them and provides users unique insight into what’s being discussed most. From the Disqus post: It can...

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  • Updates from the past six months, PLUS! Come be a student fellow

    [KICKS OFF SHOES. FALLS INTO CHAIR. LETS OUT AUDIBLE EXHALE.] Oh. My. Guess what?! Last week was my first anniversary here at the Lab. I came to this job with the intention of substantially chipping away at the media-stack, innovative-systems-for-news-publications, journalism-tech "problem." Well, that  expectation was quite naïve. A university is not positioned to produce and support substantial, commercial-level software technology. One can expect ideas and students from a university. The product that a university contributes...

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  • Introducing Neighborhood Buzz

    Neightborhood Buzz, Chicago, O'hare, Science tweets As social media have become a regular part of daily life, people have wondered what they can learn about themselves and their communities from the millions of messages posted online—especially on Twitter, because it is so public and so conversational. Many projects in this space begin by selecting tweets for analysis based on who tweeted or specific terms used in the tweets. Students in our Fall 2012 Innovation in...

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  • SoundCite gives voice to WaPo's account of Wendy Davis' filibuster

    Knight Lab couldn’t have been more excited to learn that The Washington Post used our newly launched project, SoundCite, to tell the story of the Wendy Davis ‘tweetstorm’ following her filibuster in Texas. There's just something about launching a project and seeing it used to help tell stories. It's like sending a child off into the world and watching her succeed. SoundCite co-creator and Knight Lab student fellow, Tyler Fisher, said it best: Got home...

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  • On receiving Google Glass: The world – well, the Web – #throughglass

    This post by Knight Lab founding faculty member Owen Youngman originally appeared on his personal blog. Glass, meet Owen. Owen, meet Glass. Wednesday, June 19 — my grades turned in, and commencement yet to come — I headed to Google’s Chelsea Market space in New York City, across the street from the massive New York headquarters building the company bought for $1.9 billion in 2010 (check out Andrew Blum’s book “Tubes” to learn an interesting reason the...

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  • SoundCite beta, in-line audio tool, ready to use

    https://vimeo.com/68383495 Knight Lab officially took the wraps off of SoundCite this week, our most recent tool for content creators. In a nutshell, SoundCite makes it incredibly easy for web publishers and writers to include in-line audio in their stories. We released an alpha version a month or two back and WBEZ's Jim DeRogatis used it to give a profile of Chance the Rapper more depth by allowing readers to hear the lyrics DeRogatis cited in his piece....

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  • Slimformation: A prototype that helps you read smarter, improve your “information diet”

    Slimformation: A prototype that tracks the kinds of content a user is viewing and provides advice on how to improve his or her “information diet.” Activities tab shown above. How many of you have tried to diet before? I know I have my fair share of attempts. So we all know there are better and worse foods for you (say, vegetables over macarons). The same logic applies to information. We live in a world of...

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  • Journalism, computer science students to unveil eight collaborative projects

    Next week, journalism and computer science students from Northwestern’s “Collaborative Innovation in Journalism and Technology” class will unveil the prototypes they’ve built over the past 10 weeks. And you’re invited to see what they’ve come up with. The students have been working since April, when I and my Knight Lab colleague, Associate Prof. Larry Birnbaum of the computer science department in the McCormick School formed eight interdisciplinary teams out of the 27 students enrolled in...

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  • Untangled: New Lab project aims to improve browser-based knowledge management for journalists

    When we canvassed the community at News Foo late last fall, many people described tools they'd like to see which help journalists manage and make sense of data. These suggestions encouraged us to make a specific 2013 initiative we're calling "Reporters' Notebook," in which we'll look at existing tools and imagine new ones. As one step in brainstorming possibilities, we returned to a student project called Untangld. This project came out of our collaborative innovation classes,...

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  • What is Knight Lab? Technology, editorial content and events

    Knight Lab has three major buckets of output – technology, events and editorial – all dependent on the other two for success. Immediately following the announcement of our new blog, my inbox was flooded with questions like these: Is Knight Lab making a content play? Are you all trying to be Nieman Lab? Reporters' Lab? Short answer: No. As this journalism nerd lab evolves, we have found it necessary to expand the definition of our output....

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  • Alpha release: SoundCite makes inline audio easy and seamless

    Over the weekend we released SoundCite, a tool that lets anyone easily include inline audio in their stories. We have open-sourced our code on GitHub and would encourage you to contribute in any way you wish. Fork it, send us pull requests or just let us know what you think. SoundCite helps users create short audio clips from files on SoundCloud. Users insert those clips into the text of a story with an embed code...

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  • We have a new look — and strategy — for the Knight Lab's blog

    Knight Lab's responsively-designed relaunch I am so excited to pull back the curtain on our brand, spankin' new blog design and I'm not sure that we could be more eager to get going. It is a pretty new toy that, in contrast to our old site, will allow us to participate more substantially in the dialogue that is already taking place within our geographically diverse community of journalism-technologists. More importantly, our new name, visual identity,...

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  • Twitter hacks and the Yahoo redesign: 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. If you’ve been paying attention on Twitter this week, you know there was a lot to talk about. It wasn't journalism, but on Monday the Burger King Twitter account was hacked and “defaced,” according to CNET. The hacked tweets said the...

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  • #Doprah and The Atlantic's 'blunder': 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, like every other, was a great week on Twitter. There was much news to follow and talk about—even more so than usual. Conversation surrounding the death of Aaron Swartz carried over into much of this week. Everyone from NPR...

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  • BookRx Launches

    Just before Christmas the Knight Lab launched BookRx, a project that analyzes your tweets and recommends books based on what it finds. BookRx is similar to other projects in our Social Loupe. In the first phase, it analyzes your tweets (the words, Twitter usernames, and hashtags you use) and compares them to terms that are correlated with book categories. In the second phase, it looks within those categories to find specific books to recommend, again...

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  • Data's nice, but a school choice tool is better

    In Chicago, like most big cities these days, there's no shortage of data available about the local public schools. A parent trying to find the best school for his or her children can find data about schools in at least five different places: the Chicago Public Schools website, the State Board of Education's website, the Chicago Tribune's school report card section, Northern Illinois University's Interactive School Report Card and the "Five Essentials" site operated by...

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  • Symbolia: Process and challenge for the comics journalism startup

    After a decade in news, Symbolia co-founder and publisher Erin Polgreen is adjusting to startup life. And, judging by the vigorous press coverage, it’s not all bad. Plus, there’s the actual work, which is also nice. “Operating as a start up is great because we can change course quickly if we need to,” says Polgreen, who launched Symbolia last week. “There’s not a lot of weight or infrastructure holding us back.” That ability to change...

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  • 'Freehadists' and The Daily's demise: 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. Undoubtedly, one of the biggest focal points of conversation this week was—of course—about The Daily. This tweet from Jeff Jarvis expertly sums up the situation: everyone has something to say about it. Over on All Things Digital, Peter Kafka argued that...

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  • Automated journalism prototypes

    The Knight Lab takes new, innovative ideas wherever we can find them — conferences, quick chats with industry folks, academics, students, etc. But one of the surest places for us to look is Northwestern’s Innovation in Journalism and Technology class. Sure, it’s close to home, but it’s also unique because we get to see prototypes in action — a rarity when discussing ideas and innovation in journalism. As Larry Birnbaum, a Lab co-founder who co-teaches...

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  • TweetCast knows (probably) who gets your vote

    Today the Knight Lab quietly took the wraps off a project that seeks to uncover a secret most Americans hold — who we plan to vote for in this week’s presidential election. The project, Tweet Cast Your Vote (tweetcast.knightlabproject.com), is experimental, but accurately predicts the candidate Twitter users plan to vote for up to 80 percent of the time. For now the tool is an interesting experience for the user — a sort of political...

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  • The Knight Lab goes to Menlo

    Last month, we kidnapped the entire Knight Lab team on a road trip to Michigan to visit Menlo Innovations and take their popular course Project Management: The Menlo Way—or as we fondly to refer to the trip, forced family fun time. Normally a three-day workshop, Menlo arranged a one-day intensive course for our small group. Located in large, open-floor-planned basement with concrete floors and a sizeable glass wall at the entrance, Menlo is unlike the...

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  • Knight Lab wins an Online Journalism Award for Congressional Primaries

    The Knight Lab won an award at the Online News Association conference in San Francisco last week! We won in the Planned News/Event category for our work on Congressional Primaries. The project was a ton of work and literally everyone in the Lab contributed code, research, partnership development, or publicity so it was nice to get some recognition for such a collaborative effort. Thanks also to the broadcasters and publishers around the state who adopted...

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  • TimlineJS deployed more than 1,500 times, new features

    In March the Knight Lab released TimelineJS. By June, journalists around the world had picked it up and used it to tell some of the biggest stories in the country. All told, more than 1,500 sites have used the technology. With all that adoption TimelineJS’s developer, Zach Wise, has added new features, resources, and even a new license that hopefully makes TimelineJS available to even more people. First, a quick overview new features: Languages — TimelineJS...

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  • TwxRay taken to task on Twitter

    Last week the Knight Lab released a beta version of twXray and received some tough Twitter feedback. We knew, of course, that twxRay was fallible, but it’s another thing to have it out in the world. At any rate, a run down of where it stumbled: You can trick TwxRay with a tweet that takes a common word and applies it in a unique context. A tweet about Tom Cruise may be categorized as travel...

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  • Discover what you (or anyone else) tweets about most

    The Knight News Innovation Lab at Northwestern University launched technology this week that brings transparency and insight to any Twitter feed. twXray (pronounced “twix-ray”) analyzes and categorizes tweets in a user’s Twitter feed to identify the topics they tweet about most – from politics to food to energy to sports. Users simply enter a Twitter handle into twXray.knightlabprojects.com and the site retrieves the most recent few hundred tweets, analyzes them, and produces a chart about...

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  • Finding the "Local Angle"

    Who says a local story has to happen locally? The Knight Lab has released the first generation of Local Angle, an application that helps content curators and consumers discover articles that may be of local interest even if they don’t originate locally.  The application associates articles with information such as a newsmaker’s birthplace or a company’s headquarters city. The goal is to spot content from around the web that may be of particular interest to...

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  • TimelineJS picked up by storytellers worldwide, some examples

    Back in March the Knight Lab partnered with Medill Associate Professor Zach Wise (a former staffer at The New York Times and part of a Pulitzer Prize-winning team at the Las Vegas Sun) to launch a product that was then known as Timeline. In the 2.5 months since the launch, Timeline has grown and adapted to user needs and the marketplace. For starters, the name changed from Timeline to Timeline JS – a move that...

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  • Wrap on NATO in Chicago Project

    The Knight News Innovation Lab has just wrapped up its latest project: NATO in Chicago. In addition learning quite a bit about the interplay between Twitter and mainstream news and recognizing some interesting Twitter trends (read all about that here), the Knight Lab also caught the interest of Chicago media. WTTW invited Knight Lab executive director Michael A. Silver to appear on Chicago Tonight to talk about the project, social media, and the evolution of...

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  • NATO in Chicago Deployment

    If you want to know what people around the world are saying about the upcoming NATO Summit in Chicago, head to www.natoinchicago.com, a website created by staff and students from the Knight News Innovation Lab at Northwestern University. The technology behind the website spots, sorts and analyzes what protestors, leaders, city residents and other groups are saying about the NATO Summit on Twitter. It also aggregates and presents traditional media coverage from around the globe,...

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  • Journalists begin adopting TimelineJS

    About three weeks ago the Knight Lab introduced Timeline – a tool that enables journalists to quickly and easily create good-looking, interactive timelines. Word of Timeline slipped out a few days before we formally announced the product on Twitter on March 21 and followed up with a press release on March 23. A week later Twitter feedback made it clear that Timeline’s developer and Medill faculty member Zach Wise had created something particularly useful. Links...

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  • New tool: An easy way to build attractive timelines

    Timelines are a great tool for drawing readers into stories and the Knight Lab is pleased to introduce a great tool for creating them. Our timeline builder was created by Zach Wise, who last year joined the Medill faculty from the New York Times.   In teaching students to deploy timelines, Wise found there wasn’t a satisfactory tool that met current needs.  Working with the Knight Lab, he created one of his own and it’s now...

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  • Partners go live with Congressional primaries technology

    Over the past week we’ve been excited to watch a number of news organizations around Illinois (14 to be exact) complete implementation of our Congressional Primaries 2012 technology on their sites. We’ve ended up with a diverse group of partners—from niche neighborhood publishers, to down state broadcasters, to the big traditional players in Chicago. Elements of the CongressionalPrimaries.org service—either as complete pages or widgets—have been incorporated into the following sites: Daily newspapers Chicago Sun-Times Daily...

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  • Congressional Primaries 2012: ONA award submission

    In early 2012 the Knight News Innovation Laboratory at Northwestern University developed CongressionalPrimaries.org, a suite of technologies to help news organizations around Illinois cover the Congressional primaries. Sixteen news organizations used the Lab's tools to augment traditional election coverage or to present readers with ready-made profiles of every congressional primary candidate in Illinois who had a social media footprint. There were 25 contested primaries in Illinois this year – the first campaigns in districts that...

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  • Opening the door to our Congressional primaries site

    Today, we removed password protection from the beta version of our Congressional Primaries website and moved its homepage to congressionalprimaries.org. We think we’ve put together a good showcase for our set of tools that publishers can utilize to supplement traditional coverage of elections, which we outlined last month. It’s still a work in progress—and will continue to be throughout the weeks leading up to the March 20 primary in Illinois. Our first order of business...

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  • What's in our toolkit for Congressional primaries?

    This week we are releasing details of the services we’re creating to enhance coverage of the March 20 primaries that will choose Democratic and Republican candidates for Congress in Illinois. The Lab is actively monitoring digital activity surrounding the 25 contested races across the state’s 18 congressional districts.  As we said when we announced the project in December, our goal is to help voters better understand what the candidates stand for and where they are...

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  • Building tools for covering Congressional primaries

    Spurring technology innovation in the way elections are covered will be an ongoing initiative at the Knight Lab, and the March 20 primaries in Illinois provide a great place for us to start. (See project page here.) Thanks to redistricting and successive "wave" elections that brought many new faces to Congress in 2006, 2008, and 2010, there will be hotly contested Republican and Democratic contests throughout the state on March 20, 2012. The races will...

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  • Results of the first publisher survey released

    One of the first challenges the Knight Lab undertook after really getting started this summer was to try to understand some of the challenges and opportunities facing Chicago-area publishers. We wanted to know what publishers were capable of, what their priorities were, and what they'd like to accomplish next as their sites grow. With these objectives in mind, we sent out an online survey in late September. By mid October 44 percent of the publishers...

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