Hacks/Hackers enters 2017

Welcome to a new year, hacks and hackers! 2016 was a tumultuous one for many Hacks/Hackers groups around the world, and 2017 may or may not be more stable. Last week we featured NiemanLab’s predictions for the coming year; this week we look back at ProPublica’s year in visual storytelling.

Chapter spotlight:

Austin held a series of events last year, ranging from a D3 workshop to a massive Connect event. Organizer Cindy Royal said the organizers, who come from two local universities, two local news outlets and one national outlet, take turns organizing events, resulting in four or five events a year.

Distributing work this way maximizes what the group can accomplish while keeping the workload on organizers as light as possible. Check out more tips from organizers on the Hacks/Hackers website.

Worth a read:

Upcoming events:

 

A very newsy year comes to a close

It’s the end of 2016, hacks and hackers, a year of cultural and political trends, movements and upsets. These trends in different regions have led to a serious questioning of transparency (both for governments and journalists), the use of open data and prediction models.

There are certainly enough opinions, think pieces and tweet storms to cover these topics already, so I will focus on what we do best: building the future of news, when we can, and hacking it together when we can’t.

Chapter spotlight:

Bogota, Colombia, held a hackathon in August called “Hackeando la Educación“, or “Hacking Education.” Two civic organizations presented projects they were working on – Datos Al Tablero and Ciudatos – which aim to improve open data in this area. Organizer Daniel Suárez Pérez said he would like to continue doing hackathons in the same space.

“Fue muy interesante ver que reunimos a 60 personas, y que entre los asistentes, había desarrolladores, maestros, periodistas, investigadores que ya tenían sus iniciativas y que querían buscar alianzas para sacar adelante sus proyectos. Para ellos, espacios como el de Hackeando la Educación, se convierten en una oportunidad para compartir experiencias, crear una red y combinar esfuerzos para potenciar los resultados.”

“It was really interesting to see we gathered 60 people, and between the attendees, there were designers, teachers, journalists, researchers who already had their initiatives and who wanted to look for teams to bring their projects forward. For them, spaces like Hackeando la Educación become an opportunity to share experiences, create a network and join forces to strengthen their results.”

Check out our Hackathon Tips to stage your own hackathon.

Worth a read:

  • Google seems to be taking steps to counteract fake news, as holocaust denial sites have disappeared from the first page of search results (Search Engine Land)
  • In other news on fake news, Snopes, a site once dedicated to busting urban legends, has found new relevance and audience during and after the U.S. election (NYT)
  • Trump’s deregulation and trade plans may actually be promising for the tech world (Recode)
  • NiemanLab released its collection of Predictions for Journalism 2017 (NiemanLab)

Job openings:

Upcoming events:

Nairobi talks transparency; job postings pile up across the globe

hh_holiday_logo

Happy holidays, hacks and hackers, to those of you celebrating. To everyone else, I hope you are staying warm (or cool, depending on your hemisphere). Many chapters are either celebrating or hibernating right about now, but job postings are up in other parts of the world – check out the list below:

Chapter spotlight:

The Hacks/Hackers Africa chapter in Nairobi met last week to discuss how digital activism can aid government accountability, and vice versa. Organizer Florence Sipalla wrote about the talk on the H/H Africa blog:

Serah Njambi Rono, who used to organize in Nairobi, suggested other organizers start a habit of recapping or blogging about their events. A volunteer blogger will take notes, interact with the audience and even sometimes interview the speakers.

“This ensures that other Hacks/Hackers chapters the world over know what your chapter is up to and can borrow a leaf, serve as grounds for collaboration, et al.”

Worth a read:

Job openings:

Upcoming events:

 

Hacks/Hackers Montreal braves the cold of Canada for Pandas

We’re midway through the coldest months – unless, of course, you live on the southern hemisphere – and techs and reporters are burrowing into projects or warm coats, or both. Montreal, who we featured in October, met for a Pandas and D3 party last week. Check out the chapter spotlight for how organizers in Quebec have been experimenting with their events.

Chapter spotlight:

Roberto Rocha, one of the organizers of Hacks/Hackers Montreal, said the group has been experimenting with meetup formats in order to make it easiest on organizers.

“We’re still figuring out the best way to organize events, if it’s by delegating tasks, or letting organizers do things their way. We’re also experimenting with the format: short presentations followed by netowrking time, or workshops/demos. No major conclusions to share so far… But we always get 20-30 people at our events, which is pretty good.”

Worth a read:

  • Journalists are being arrested more and more in Latin America and the rest of the world (Knight Center)
  • One step Facebook is taking toward news transparency is funneling alleged fake news sites through fact checkers like Snopes and Politifact (NiemanLab)
  • Matt Waite also wrote for NiemanLab about how the media itself needs to stop denying it’s part of the problem (NiemanLab)
  • The NYT is the latest organization to open a tips page to enable secure communication with sources (NYTimes)

Job openings:

Upcoming events:

 

Hacks and hackers keep at it during the holidays

Season’s greetings, hacks and hackers! The holidays are closing in on us – at least on those of us in the western world, and many groups and people are slowing down and starting to hibernate. But not Hacks/Hackers! There’s still time to help us pick a new logo, if you’re so inclined – and check out what local groups are up to next week and onward:

The week ahead:

  • Dublin is having a merry Christmas gathering
  • San Francisco is meeting Solutions Journalism Network’s Bay Area chapter for a drink
  • Miami is holding its regular OpenHack Miami
  • IRE in Missouri is holding its weekly open lab
  • Nairobi is discussing how governments can be held more accountable

Chapter spotlight:

Munich met this week to have a discussion many of us are having: Facebook bots, prediction models and how they influenced the Trump election. Check out #hhmuc if you’d like to see more slides from the presentations and notes from attendees:

Worth a read:

  • Nationalist, populist movements are growing rapidly in Europe and the Americas, and the NYT has become “ground zero” for a raging debate over whether and how to use the term “alt-right” (NYTimes)
  • As the Web developed, websites moved toward developing their own mobile apps. Now they’re moving back the other way (Medium)
  • The Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) is merging forces with a wide array of organizations from Europe, Africa and the Americas to expand its anti-corruption coverage (OCCRP)

Job openings:

Upcoming events:

 

Help us pick a new Hacks/Hackers logo

It’s a new month, hacks and hackers, and if you’ve been reading this a while, you know that means one thing: a Hacks/Hackers global call. Check out the agenda to see what we’ll be chatting about.

If you can’t make it, please take this super short (i.e., four-question) survey to give us some feedback on a new logo:

The week ahead:

Chapter spotlight:

Taipei, the recently-founded first chapter in Taiwan, is holding its second meetup tomorrow, spreading the Github gospel to the journalists of Taiwan. They’ve already scheduled their third, which will tackle immersive storytelling.

Organizers Silva Shih and Kirby Wu have been posting and communicating on a variety of channels, including Github, Facebook and their own website. Silva said Facebook was the most successful platform so far for communicating with members, while Github and Slack are more useful for communicating between organizers.

“Since Taiwan is the most active Facebook users in the world, the answer is no surprise. But I’d say twitter has influence as well because it has regional visibility and the influence among the English speaking world. We will keep these two as the main broadcasting channels at the same time.”

Worth a read:

  • ICIJ published a huge report on the global impact of its Panama Papers project (ICIJ)
  • The American Press Institute published a strategy study on engaging readers in longform stories in digital format (API)
  • Reuters built an algorithmic tool for verifying breaking news on Twitter (Nieman Lab)
  • Many journalists are taking heart from a rousing speech by Marty Baron, editor of the Washington Post and model for the Spotlight film (Vanity Fair)

Job openings:

Upcoming events:


Hacking public transit with HackDash

Greetings, hacks and hackers. A lot of the suggested reads this week follow the same trends as last week: cybersecurity and privacy, fake news and press freedom. On the plus side, there’s a veritable deluge of journalism job postings this week, from San Francisco to Hong Kong to Johannesburg.

The week ahead:

  • Miami is holding its regular OpenHack Miami
  • IRE in Missouri is holding its weekly meeting

Chapter spotlight:

Mendoza organized a ‘transportatón‘ last week, hacking solutions for sustainable transportation in Argentina, offering an enticing 20,000 pesos to the winning team to develop their project

The group used HackDash, a tool created by the Hacks/Hackers Buenos Aires team to organize hackthons. It’s the only tool of its kind and was designed to fill a need that the HHBA Media Party made clear. The Buenos Aires team makes it clear HackDash is an open source project and available for anyone who wants to use it for a hackathon or other event.

Worth a read:

  • Die Welt in Germany created an analytics ‘score’ to assign to articles, taking into account things like time spent and social media shares (journalism.co.uk)
  • The NYT tracked a case study of some false information going viral and political (NYTimes)
  • Facebook created a tool that lets governments censor content by location in order to break into the China user market (NYTimes)
  • Privacy and security are trending again, as they often are these days, and freeCodeCamp offered a one-hour walkthrough of how to enable basic encryption features (Medium)

Job openings:

Upcoming events:


Fake news and trust in the media take front row

Good morning, afternoon, evening or night, hacks and hackers. After a year of news events like Brexit, the European refugee crisis and the U.S. election, journalists are getting more concerned about the spread of fake news and an apparent lack of trust from the public. Organizations and private companies are starting to take action, but it’s going to be a long road ahead.

The week ahead:

Chapter spotlight:

Helsinki met last month to share info about the Uutisraivaaja media innovation contest in Finland. Event organizer Rosa Lampela learned something that may be counterintuitive: sometimes you can have too many speakers.

“Even though the speeches in H/H are supposed to be quite short, a lot of time goes into the questions and discussion. That’s a good thing as they are the whole point of the meetings. Now I know not to crowd the schedule.”

Worth a read:

  • Matt Carroll, who runs H/H Boston, shared some tips for creating a growing a creative, innovative community (Medium)
  • A group of prestigious journalism organizations in the U.S. shared their letter to Donald Trump asking for transparency (National Press Club)
  • A professor’s list of fake news sites is becoming extremely popular in the U.S. (LATimes)
  • Google and Facebook announced they will prevent fake news sites from using their ad services, in an attempt to stem the spreading of false information (Reuters)
  • Media outlets in Latin America are increasingly funding projects through crowdfunding (Knight Center)

Job postings:

Upcoming events:


Hacks/Hackers Southwest/South Wales launches in the UK

Happy Friday, hacks and hackers, and welcome to post-U.S. election life. Many of us have been living it for well over a year – perhaps two – and it’s time to move on to newer challenges.

The week ahead:

  • Buenos Aires is hosting a hackathon on institutional violence
  • Miami is holding its regular OpenHack Miami
  • IRE in Missouri is holding its weekly meeting

Chapter spotlight:

Hacks/Hackers Southwest/South Wales launched last week in the UK, with a two-way talk from the BBC’s News Lab and the UK’s Office for National Statistics.

H/H SWxSW kept the momentum going by sharing ever bit of code, presentation and talk online. Check out their Twitter:

Worth a read:

  • Polls and predictive data models were largely unsuccessful in predicting the U.S. election, possibly because journalists weren’t combining data with other reporting (Digiday)
  • Mark Zuckerberg is still denying the idea that Facebook affected the election by propagating fake news (BuzzFeed)
  • Sunlight Labs, which created many powerful open gov tools in the U.S., officially shut down this week (Sunlight Foundation)
  • The Minneapolis Star-Tribune survived the digital revolution and came out the other side even more empowered, thanks to – among other things – maintaining print as a priority (Poynter)
  • Brazilian newspapers have actually gained record audiences after instituting paywalls (Knight Center)

Job openings:

Upcoming events:


Dublin (and others) traverse the digital frontier

Greetings, hacks and hackers. By the time you read this next newsletter, the American president will have been chosen (finally), so let’s take a look at what other countries are up to in the meantime.

Hacks/Hackers Dublin is promoting the Investigative Journalism on the Digital Frontier Conference taking place in Ireland, but they’re not the only ones pushing digital boundaries this weekend. Buenos Aires, a veritable hotbed of hackathons, is holding its first hackathon on “institutional violence,” a threat to human rights in Latin America and everywhere.

The week ahead:

  • Singapore is taking on 3D graphics
  • Dublin is attending the Investigative Journalism on the Digital Frontier Conference
  • Buenos Aires is hosting its first hackathon on institutional violence
  • Miami is holding its regular OpenHack Miami
  • IRE in Missouri is holding its weekly meeting
  • South Wales is holding its first event

Chapter spotlight:

Taipei went a pretty ambitious route with its very first meetup last month: they held a QGIS workshop with two instructors and a pretty full turnout

Hacks/Hackers groups are always striving to find the best way to communicate with members and organize events. For their part, co-organizers Silva Shih and Kirby Wu made a variety of online homes for the group, including a Twitter, website and Github. Future months will hopefull indicate which are the most useful and popular.

Worth a read:

Job openings:

Other upcoming events: