July 13th, 2016 § § permalink
In my role as a data developer, I’ve recently been setting up a company-wide installation of Datawrapper, an open-source data visualization tool. Preparing a test server with the application, I hit some (ok, more than some) bumps along the way. It ended up taking far longer than I initially expected, but thankfully I extensively documented the process.
When I went to install Datawrapper on a production server, the setup was a breeze.
In the spirit of open-source (and in solidarity with improving the open-source world), below is an embedded gist of steps to get your own Datawrapper running — and avoiding common problems.
Let me know if you have any questions or suggestion on how to improve it! Now to see if the Datawrapper folks will release more of their plugins…
April 24th, 2016 § § permalink
Since I’ll be in the country this time around, I’m hoping to attend my first SRCCON this summer in Portland. Here’s a brief description from the organizers, Knight-Mozilla OpenNews:
SRCCON is a hands-on conference focused on the practical challenges news technology and data teams encounter every day. We work to make it an inclusive and welcoming event where people can feel comfortable digging into complex problems.
Here are the pitches:
Comm Together: How can we build and maintain a data/tech/code community in each of our organizations?
Proposed by Julia B. Chan and Greg Linch
Teams within an organization are usually pretty structured. One group might share a common focus, office space and manager. But communities are a much more fluid–they move beyond the designated org chart lines and boundaries drawn by the company. Some of the best collaboration in news and tech comes when different specialities mix. Whether you’re a lonely coder or on a large news app team, how do you build and sustain a community of data- and tech-oriented journalists within your organization? What kind of obstacles does this internal community face?
- How do you help everyone level-up, including yourself?
- How do you make sure knowledge and skills aren’t concentrated among a small group–or just one person?
- How do you get management buy-in for cross-pollination type training push back against training bc of timing on both sides?
- How do you handle tension between a dedicated team and individuals doing similar work/working on a different part of the project?
- How do you maintain momentum if there’s no institutional structure or the structure changes?
Can we come up with some solutions to these problems? We want to hear your experience and advice for internal community-building, even if it’s not directly related to data and tech. We’ll discuss all these topics, then break into small groups. Each group will have one item to expand on and contribute back to the session transcript. In the end, we’ll have an internal community-building guide to share.
Upgrade your LAMP stack to Literature, Art, Music, Poetry
Proposed by Greg Linch
“If [people] were able to be convinced that art is precise advance knowledge of how to cope with the psychic and social consequences of the next technology, would they all become artists?” Marshall McLuhan wrote in Understanding Media. Should we all become artists? I seriously thought about it last year. Here’s why: Whether we use text, images, graphics or code to tell stories, we deal with symbols, images, abstractions and interpretations every day. Journalism’s history is basically one of integrating new disciplines, techniques and technologies to more effectively tell stories. Lately, and especially for the data/tech community in news, that’s involved stats, social science, computer science and other quantitative- or science-oriented fields. Although we should continue to do this vigorously, we equally need to embrace the arts. And not just from a visual or design standpoint, but the ideas that underlie and advance art. In doing this, we can also see how seemingly disparate things correspond: cubism and physics, concrete poetry and GUIs, conceptual art and algorithms. We’ll explore these and other ways the analog humanities can help us think about digital media from technical and humanistic perspectives–going everywhere from abstraction and to Afrofuturism.
September 26th, 2015 § § permalink
I organized a session at this year’s Online News Association 2015 conference in Los Angeles with an awesome group of speakers:
We’ve assembled a group of experts on futurism to look at predictions and possibilities for how our society is changing, and help rethink our approach to media, technology and our communities.
Here’s the session page. Here’s the Storify:
September 11th, 2015 § § permalink
After nearly five years at The Washington Post, I’m thrilled to start a new job in late September focused on data stories, projects and tools at McClatchy’s DC bureau.
I’ve loved working in the Post newsroom with such fantastic, inspiring coworkers. From starting on health/science and then world/national security production to building news apps/tools and managing local data projects to now producing on Team Rainbow, it’s been an invaluable and rewarding experience.
At McClatchy, this new role offers an unique opportunity to collaborate with their formidable DC bureau and across their 29 news organizations, plus sit near former Post colleagues who are part of an impressive video team. It’s also a chance to work again with my hometown paper The Miami Herald, where I freelanced and interned during college. I can’t wait to join all the talented journalists at McClatchy.
Here’s the very kind announcement from my new boss, Julie Moos:
I’m excited to announce that Greg Linch will be joining us late this month to help plan, produce and launch data-driven projects coming out of our local newsrooms and out of DC.
Greg’s arrival enables us to broaden and deepen our data efforts, which you’ll be hearing more about in coming weeks. To start, we plan to provide do-it-yourself tools and a range of support for the data storytelling that’s becoming so essential to readers everywhere across a range of subjects.
Greg joins us from The Washington Post, where he currently works on Project Rainbow (the tablet team); his previous roles there include local data editor, news apps producer and national security producer. He has FOIAed and negotiated with local agencies to publish their daily crime data or weekly crime reports; led work on voter’s guides and results pages for primary and general elections; developed systems for handling documents (like the Clinton emails) and email newsletters; and worked on many projects that required reporting skills as strong as his coding skills.
Greg is a member of the board of directors of the Online News Association, co-organizer of the DC Hacks/Hackers chapter and an all-around great journalist capable of elevating our work in interesting ways. Here’s his resume.
Greg will be based at Tish’s old desk, as he fills the position opened by her departure. His professional career started at The Miami Herald and we are happy to lure him back to McClatchy, starting Sept. 29.
Thanks for joining me in making him feel welcome.
December 2nd, 2014 § § permalink
Johanna Drucker in Humanities Approaches to Graphical Display:
Capta is “taken” actively while data is assumed to be a “given” able to be recorded and observed. From this distinction, a world of differences arises. Humanistic inquiry acknowledges the situated, partial, and constitutive character of knowledge production, the recognition that knowledge is constructed, taken, not simply given as a natural representation of pre-existing fact.
Also, in her paper on Graphesis: Visual knowledge production and representation:
Data are considered objective “information” while capta is information that is captured because it conforms to the rules and hypothesis set for the experiment.
Hat tip to Mark Hansen when he mentioned the former at #NICAR14. And hat tip to Tim Carmody for first introducing me to Drucker when he recommended The Visible Word.