Tag Archives: data

Hacks/Hackers Rosario launches; highlights openness and collaboration in news and civic media

Hacks/Hackers Rosario (HHROS) is already a reality. On Thursday, April 25, the second Argentine chapter of Hacks/Hackers (HH) had its first meetup in ClubdeFun Bar, with more than 60 attendees.

Programmers, journalists, designers, entrepreneurs, technologists and IT professionals gathered at the venue to attend the talks offered by Ezequiel Clerici (Journalist and co-organizer of Hacks/Hackers Buenos Aires and HHROS), Pablo Cuadrado (Mozilla Argentina ), Dart Ceballos (Bachelor of Social Communication, digital reporter and co-organizer of HHROS) and Mariano Blejman (Knight International Journalism Fellow at International Center For Journalists and co-founder of Hacks/Hackers Buenos Aires).

The opening talk, by Ezequiel Clerici, focused on the objectives of HH as global organization, noting that is an ideal space for networking where professionals of multiple areas can approach and assist in the development of the future of media, as well as technology projects related to civic information at large.

HHROS discussed the new space occupied by programmers, journalists and designers in media at outlets like ProPublica (USA), The New York Times (USA) and The Guardian (UK).

In particular, we discussed the policy of openness developed by The Guardian interactive news team, and the public-facing production processes of its Datablog. Attendees were encouraged to replicate this example in the local media.

Next, the journalists and co-organizers of Hacks/Hackers Buenos Aires (HHBA) and HHROS showed two examples where journalism, programming and design intersect in order to tell a story.

The first was the multimedia journalistic investigation: 68 Blocks: Life, Death, Hope conducted by the Boston Globe on violence in the Bowdoin-Geneva neighborhood. The second focused on one case about data journalism by The Guardian (Afghanistan: The war logs) realized in 2010 and produced based on a series of Excel spreadsheets obtained through WikiLeaks.

Pablo Cúbico’s talk highlighted the potential of collaboration between programmers and journalists, from the point of view of a programmer. “Even though we live in a time when the programmer is a fundamental part of any industry and the software rules any minimum instrument  with which we interact during our lives (like software that counts the coins we put in the public transport), programmers are rarely seen as agents of change, because the need for more software development comes from the corporate world,” Pablo said. Yet the man from the Mozilla community in Argentina believes that the culture of the programmer (and hacker) has a strong inclination toward cooperation, knowledge sharing, and the production of the public good as reflected in the open source software movement, since many are involved in projects or communities about open source culture, but with a very varied involvement level.

From Pablo’s perspective, Hacks/Hackers represents a participation space that is a great opportunity for programmers encounter the discipline of journalism, which is opening its production processes and looking for ways to create non-linear storytelling, with a production process that’s less like a tree and more like network.

The idea, in his own words, is that the product that born from this amalgam is developed in a collaboratively way, open and outward. Mental models of journalists, programmers, designers, and other stakeholders are quite complementary. The transformation of the stories and the data in interactive material (views, transmedia or whatever), lets the reader put the data in perspective and sometimes visualize it in a way that can produce an epiphany. At first glance, the conclusion is immediate, as seen during Pablo’s presentation of Pablo of a voting in block visualization, created by Andy Tow.

Pablo explained that collaborative teams are not only important when working in newsrooms today, but should also represent a new way of thinking the work in areas outside the media.

Meanwhile Dardo Ceballos, conducted a brief review of the state of the art in multimedia journalism and the data journalism in the region. Disciplines almost absent in the local mainstream media and smaller emerging media projects, or institutional, but still remain tied to closed technologies like Flash, or trying to apply Web 2.0 tools without much implication of programmers.

Dardo noted that until now the programmers have been basically dedicated to implementing publishing platforms and that journalists then use to publish. This division between developer and user demonstrates a lack of actual cooperative work towards enhancing products.

From Dardo’s perspective, HHROS would be local opportunity to create that cooperation — the place that brings people together to make working teams of programming, design and journalism, and other specific areas such as application development, interactive video, and other areas of technological innovation and journalism that can truly reboot journalism in Rosario.

Mariano Blejman, journalist and Knight International Journalism Fellow, was the last in lecture and the duration of his presentation addressed issues related to how Hacks/Hackers Buenos Aires was formed and what projects have been developing since the founding of the HHBA in 2011. In this segment of his speech he spoke about the work experiences around the platforms: Elecciones 2011 (Elections 2011) and Mapa76. He also explained how they worked on georeferencing of tweets about the #8N protests and what the HackDash can do to help for monitor progress and completion of many projects.

Then he reviewed the Media Party 2012 and said it will be repeated again, from August 30 to September 1, 2013 at the Ciudad Cultural Konex (CABA) in Buenos Aires.

To close, Mariano talked about the most recent HHBA hackathon. At that event, attendees worked with D3.js, the data visualization library widely used today by many, including the interactive news team of The New York Times. Mariano showed some of the results through the project “La trama financiera de la dictadura” (The financial scheme of the dictatorship in Argentina).

The HHROS meeting ended with the presentation of the group’s first collaborative project and a call for participation: “Evolución del crimen sicario en la ciudad de Rosario” (Evolution of sicario murders in the city of Rosario), presented by the local organizers.

The next HHROS meetup will take place in late May in the form of a workday. We welcome all new and existing Hacks/Hackers Rosario members (currently at 70 and counting)  to come and propose more projects, meet contributors, discuss ideas and identify possible tools to make them happen.

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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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Retour sur la 1ère édition de Hacks/Hackers Paris.

“Comment le travail entre journalistes et développeurs peut-il améliorer l’information ?” : retour sur le meetup inaugural de Hacks/Hackers Paris

Le 28 août dernier, Hacks/Hackers Paris accueillait une quarantaine de personnes dans les locaux de la rédaction de StreetPress pour son meetup inaugural. À l’occasion de cette première rencontre, Colin, développeur pour Rue89, et Florent Latrive, journaliste à Libération, étaient invités à répondre à la question suivante : “Comment le travail entre journalistes et développeurs peut-il améliorer l’information ?”.

Responsable du développement des applications de Rue89, Colin est revenu en détails sur la réalisation de plusieurs projets, parmi lesquels un comparateur des programmes des candidats à la présidentielle, une application sur la composition du nouveau gouvernement ou encore une autre sur les JO de Londres.

Réalisées de manière agile, la plupart des applications de Rue89 sont construites à partir d’un Google Doc alimenté par un journaliste de la rédaction. Pour Colin, la sensibilité des journalistes de la rédaction au code HTML et leur proximité physique avec les développeurs du site favorise l’expérimentation de ces nouveaux formats.

En moyenne, la réalisation d’une application nécessite une à deux journées de travail. Cependant, une partie des développements sont régulièrement réutilisés sur d’autres projets. L’application sur la composition de l’équipe de France pour l’Euro 2012 se base ainsi sur celle consacrée à la composition du nouveau gouvernement Hollande.

De son côté, Florent Latrive s’est appuyé sur l’exemple de deux cartes pour démontrer l’importance “d’évangéliser” les journalistes : la carte de la loi SRU et celles des emprunts toxiques.

Réalisée à partir d’un fichier Excel récupéré par l’un des rubricards de la rédaction, la carte des villes face à la loi SRU est la première expérience de travail entre journalistes et développeurs au sein du journal Libération. Elle a ensuite inspiré celle des emprunts toxiques, qui représentait l’ensemble des emprunts proposés par Dexia aux collectivités territoriales et aux syndicats locaux. Florent Latrive a ainsi expliqué que de nombreux journalistes de la rédaction était assis sur des “mines d’or” d’information. Pour lui, l’enjeu est de leur donner le réflexe d’aller travailler avec des développeurs.

Retrouvez-vous tout les meetups de Hacks/Hackers Paris  à cette adresse : http://MeetupParis.HacksHackers.com/

Merci à StreetPress pour la mise à disposition des ses locaux et la captation des interventions.

Le meetup inaugural de Hacks/Hackers Paris a eu lieu le 28 août dans les locaux de la rédaction de StreetPress. Entre deux retours d’expériences, quelques idées et rencontres pour l’avenir.

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Recap of Hacks/Hackers NYC Demo Day: Lots of Raphael

The New York City chapter of Hacks/Hackers metWednesday, December 1 for Demo Day at the generously donated space, New Work City.

The pizza, from Lombardi’s, was delicious and the place was packed. (Sorry to those on the waitlist)

Here’s a quick review of each of the  speakers and their demos:

  • Kushal Dave, a FourSquare engineer, who presented an advance off-the-recordish look at the new FourSquare API.
  • David Moore with OpenGovernment.org, a version of OpenCongress for states and cities that will be launched in public beta in December with five state legislatures.
  • Dan Nguyen of ProPublica, who reviewed the data gathering and data structuring behind Docs for Dollars.
  • Jeff Larson of ProPublica, uncovered self-dealing of Collateralized Debt Obligationss within the finance world via an easy-to-visualize network graph.
  • Jeremy Singer-Vine with Text Toggle, developed with Slate, which gives publishers an easy way to create, embed, and present interactive translations.
  • Shesha Pancholi of Newscred with a live demo of an experimental curation tool.
  • Erik Hinton & Al Shaw with the TPM election night app, a high-class production made with limited resources.
  • Daniel Bachhuber with the EditFlow WordPress plug-in, now in version 0.6 which will let you control the whole editing process — from pitch to publishing — within WordPress.

You get a special bonus fact  from each presenter, their favorite song


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The art of data visualization: Stamen Design event wrapup

Eric Rodenbeck, Stamen Design

The art of making sense of data — and it is truly an art — is a key element in building the future of journalism. Interactive presentations created from data can be personalized by the reader, giving a more engaging news experience. Data-based applications can also lead to new business models, through paid or subscription-based applications that give extra value to readers by providing a new dimension on news coverage.

One of the leaders in data visualization is Stamen Design, which has worked with news organizations and museums alike to help make sense of the world through its unique views of data.

Speaking to a Hacks/Hackers event this week at the Gray Area Foundation For The Arts, Stamen founder Eric Rodenbeck discussed some of his firm’s work and philosiphy.

Some highlights from the presentation:

Create maps as tools for exploration

Stamen doesn’t have any preconceptions for what they want their visualizations to show. They aim to create interfaces that allow users to come to their own conclusions about what they see. Part of this is insuring that the data they use is as complete and accurate as possible. They also don’t try to clean up outliers in their data that might appear to be unexpected noise cluttering up a visualization.

Issues of data access

When Stamen was about to release their visualization of crime data in Oakland, the city shut off access to the data pipe. Access to open data is obviously essential for these applications. This is one area where journalists and developers can work together. With their experience finding sources and doing Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, reporters can help obtain the right information in the right format so that designers and developers can build a complete visualization. That takes an understanding on both sides of what’s available and what format is required.

The best data come from human actions

Data that come from actual human activity is best starting point for creating visualizations. This means information based on how people behave in the real world, not doing something like filling out surveys.

Data that come from actual human activity is best starting point for creating visualizations

Current tools are complicated and expensive

There are some easy-to-use tools for doing this work, such as Google Maps. But when you want to go beyond just sticking red pins on a map, it can get complicated very quickly. Stamen’s projects require complex and expensive tools that aren’t easily usable by non-techies. Perhaps this will change and there are some people working in this space, such as IBM’s Many Eyes project.

Print-on-demand as a way to bridge the digital divide

Print media through small on-demand runs could be a way to bridge the digital divide and bring some of the information gleaned from data analysis to a wider audience. There have recently been some efforts to use downtime on big presses for short runs.

Want to hear more? The video of the event is embedded below, and here are some photos.

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