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Archive of posts with the category
mozfest

  • 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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  • 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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  • Knight Lab's MozFest 2013 wrap up and link-o-rama

    This post has been updated with additional links to MozFest 2013 content. Kicking off the festival, Friday night begins with a Science Fair at Ravensbourne College. Just like last year, the Knight Lab team took a jump across the pond a couple weeks ago to attend the Mozilla Festival (October 25-27) in London. Still running on fumes from the remaining high felt from our attendance in 2012, the eleven of us were really excited to be there. This incredible...

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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: For journalists, web literacy is not quite enough

    One of Mozfest’s most prominent themes this year has been “Build + Teach the Web.” Throughout the keynotes and sessions, Mozilla has pushed its new initiative, Webmaker, as a rallying point for all of us interested in educating the world in becoming creators of the web rather than users. It’s a great initiative. Nothing is more important for us as makers than getting more people onboard, especially in journalism. But journalism has a specific set...

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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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  • 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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  • 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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  • MozFest's maker mantra

    MozFest. Man, so hard to describe what this thing is. I don’t want gush too much, but it’s been a great weekend so far. I was intimidated coming in to the festival. The maker ethos here is strong and as a words guy I didn’t think I had the right cred to properly collaborate with the coders and designers. I can cobble together some HTML, shoot photos, and edit video, but generally words are my...

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