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Data Journalism: A Showcase of Viz Projects in India

Building on the excitement around data journalism at our previous hackathon, Hacks/Hackers New Delhi recently paired up with the Hindustan Times — one of India’s leading English newspapers — to host a showcase of innovative data journalism work going on in the country.

The goal was to share best practices when it comes to using data to source, tell and visualize stories.
Avinash Celestine of The Economic Times
Avinash Celestine of the Economic Times started off by explaining how he’s using open data – particularly Indian government census data – to answer big questions about socioeconomic trends on his Datastories blog.  He stressed the importance of putting data in context, giving the example of how he recently tried to understand women’s declining participation in the labor force by contrasting it with data about increased studying and housework.
Cordelia Jenkins of Mint
Cordelia Jenkins of Mint newspaper explained Trading Up: Slum Economics, the data journalism project that recently won the GEN Editor’s Lab hackathon in New Delhi.  The team’s goal is to create an app that visualizes and displays detailed household and economic data for slums.  Users can compare different slums side-by-side, graph the parameters they choose, and ideally – for journalists – pick out story ideas.  The project is at the concept stage, and will take another three months to become operational.
Ravi Bajpai of Down to Earth
Ravi Bajpai of Down to Earth talked about how he produces data visualizations in a hurry – in a day or less – for the organization’s blog.  He parses survey results, pulls out relevant data, and creates interactive infographic-driven posts that draw a lot of users, get good traction on social media, and keep users on page for longer.

Neeta Verma, who works with the government’s National Informatics Centre, presented data.gov.in, a new open data site from the Indian government.  The site features several tools, including inbuilt visualizations that users can embed on outside blogs and pages, the opportunity to request and vote for more data sets, and a developers community.  The site is free, but has lagged in adoption as NIC works to get more data onsite.
Guneet Narula of Datameet
Guneet Narula, of the data science collective DataMeet, presented some of the work that their members have done.  Their projects include the Geohackers blog and the India Water Portal. Most of their members, he said, come from a coding and tech background, and would like to work more with journalists.

Between them, the presenters mentioned several freely available tools for quickly packaging/presenting data, including the D3 viz library, Tableau Public, Datawrapper, Leaflet, and MapBox.

Overall, an informative set of presentations that explored some of the creative data-driven work going on in India today. About 50 people came to Sunday’s event at the HT House, and several more followed along on Twitter. For more info about Hacks/Hackers New Delhi or to join, check out the meetup page.

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Hacks/Hackers New Delhi: How to Visualize Big Data?

Hacks/Hackers New Delhi gathers for their first hackathon.
How to curate and present big data sets in India? A group of about 70 coders and journalists met for the first Hacks/Hackers New Delhi hackathon in order to answer that question.

Attendees introduced themselves to the group and then pitched an idea for a data-driven story. Initial ideas included stories in environment, sports, health and crime. The group then broke into smaller groups of six to eight people, working to scrape and parse their data before coding their interactive data visualizations.


After four hours, the groups met again to present their demos. The ideas presented included:

Mapping the Maha Kumbh Mela which mapped information about the location of public services at the Maha Kumbh Mela, one of the largest religious festivals in the world, currently happening in Allahabad, India.

Crimes against women, an interactive map of rape charges by state. The team added additional layers to show how often rape resulted in a police complaint, and how many of these complaints actually led to convictions.

Health investment and doctor availability, which graphed the availability of doctors by state, as well as investment made in each state by international health funding agencies.

Literacy and social ills, which graphed literacy rates per states against the occurrence of other social ills like crime and infant mortality, to see if literacy correlated with lower incidences of social problems.

Infant mortality, a heat map of infant mortality across states that attempts to visualize where the problem was most concentrated across India.

Many groups faced challenges gathering the data they needed, either because such granular data do not exist for India or because the information isn’t in the public domain. To read more about one group’s experience and see clips from their visualization, read journalist Pierre Fitter’s blog post.

The event was co-organized by Hacks/Hackers New Delhi and the 9.9 School of Convergence, a media academy, and partly sponsored by the School of Convergence and Knight-Mozilla OpenNews.

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Hacks/Hackers New Delhi: New markets, new models

Hacks/Hackers New Delhi first meetup
Hacks/Hackers New Delhi, the first Hacks/Hackers chapter in India, launched Dec. 5. About 50 journalists, techies and supporters came by What’s Up Bharat, in Hauz Khas Village to talk about the challenges of combining media and technology in India.

Nikhil Pahwa (@nixxin), founder and publisher of digital analysis site MediaNama, said he’s looking for people to take a closer look at ways to organize big data. He also suggested creating tools that can track the evolution of stories and ideas in real-time.

Kushan Mitra speaks to Hacks/Hackers New DelhiKushan Mitra (@kushanmitra), managing editor of digital coordination and new projects at the Pioneer, led a conversation about the need for new revenue models in the digital media space, particularly in the Indian context.


Narendra Nag speaks to Hacks/Hackers New DelhiAnd Narendra Nag (@narendranag), general manager of 2020Social, talked about his experiences as a hack/hacker for the past 10 years, and the fact that both journos and techies have a lot of learn from each other’s different viewpoints.


Narendra Nag speaks to Hacks/Hackers New Delhi
The crowd asked questions, enjoyed free pizza and cheap beer, and decided to throw a hackathon sometime in January. A few journalists asked for more workshops in coding and tech skills, and a lot of attendees were interested in a session on how to better understand Indian consumers’ digital behavior.

A good conversation and a great launch event that was also covered in The Sunday Guardian (New Delhi). For more info, check out this article.

Interested in Hacks/Hackers New Delhi? Sign up for the meetup or email NewDelhi@hackshackers.com. The event was sponsored by What’s Up Bharat and the Google Developer Group, New Delhi.
Narendra Nag speaks to Hacks/Hackers New Delhi

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