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.