Tag Archives: review

A review of Help Me Investigate in 2013 – and learning from it in 2014

Help Me Investigate logo

Over on the Help Me Investigate Blog there’s a review of the project’s activities over the past year across its four sites: Health, Olympics, Education and Welfare.

Four site editors landed jobs in the media during the year, which was particularly nice to see, but also meant we lost a certain amount of continuity. Learning from that, this year I’ll be focusing the project’s efforts particularly on welfare issues such as child poverty, housing, food poverty, and the one year anniversary of the bedroom tax.

If you want to get involved, please contact carol@helpmeinvestigate.com or tweet us for a follow on Twitter @carolmiers and @paulbradshaw.

Web security for journalists – takeaway tips and review

Web security for journalists - book cover

Early in Alan Pearce‘s book on web security, Deep Web for Journalists, a series of statistics appears that tell a striking story about the spread of surveillance in just one country.

199 is the first: the number of data mining programs in the US in 2004 when 16 Federal agencies were “on the look-out for suspicious activity”.

Just six years later there were 1,200 government agencies working on domestic intelligence programs, and 1,900 private companies working on domestic intelligence programs in the same year.

As a result of this spread there are, notes Pearce, 4.8m people with security clearance “that allows them to access all kinds of personal information”. 1.4m have Top Secret clearance.

But the most sobering figure comes at the end: 1,600 - the number of names added to the FBI’s terrorism watchlist each day.

Predictive policing

This is the world of predictive policing that a modern journalist must operate in: where browsing protesters’ websites, making particular searches, or mentioning certain keywords in your emails or tweets can put you on a watchlist, or even a no-fly list. An environment where it is increasingly difficult to protect your sources – or indeed for sources to trust you.

Alan Pearce’s book attempts to map this world – and outline the myriad techniques to avoid compromising your sources. Continue reading

Three book reviews: leaks, FOI, and surveillance

Secret Manoeuvres in the Dark book cover
This Machine Kills Secrets book cover

If you’re interested in leaks, surveillance or FOI, three book reviews I wrote over the last two months on the Help Me Investigate blog recently might interest you:

Livesheets creator wants to “make all kids into rocket scientists”

Abacus image by Anssi Koskinen

Abacus image by Anssi Koskinen on Flickr

“Imagine if you could search for any calculations and then just use them directly without ever having to work it out yourself from scratch.”

This is the vision of developer Daniel Maxwell, the creator of livesheets.com, whose dream it is for no one in the world to perform the same calculation twice again. Continue reading

7 books that journalists working online should read?

Image by B_Zedan

While it’s one thing to understand interactive storytelling, community management, or the history of online journalism, the changes that are affecting journalism are wider than the industry itself. So although I’ve written previously on essential books about online journalism, I wanted to also compile a list of books which I think are essential for those wanting to gain an understanding of wider dynamics affecting the media industries and, by extension, journalism.

These are books that provide historical context to the hysteria surrounding technologies; that give an insight into the cultural movements changing society; that explore key philosophical issues such as privacy; or that explore the commercial dynamics driving change.

But they’re just my choices – please add your own.

Continue reading

Kit Review: Gymbl Pro iPhone Mount

The Gymbl – makes your iPhone not quite a good phone or a good camera

Jon Hickman reviews iPhone tripod Gymbl Pro.

Jonathan Ive didn’t design my iPhone with a pistol grip. Instead of a hard, brittle feeling, bumpy, plastic case, Jonathan Ive fashioned a fetish object wrapped in perfectly smooth flat glass. Jonathan Ive did not design the Gymbl Pro, by Youbiq.

Would Jonathan Ive use a Gymbl Pro in pistol grip mode to shoot a video?

No, he wouldn’t. Jonathan Ive would use an iPhone 4 to grab short informal videos. If he was in the field and had a chance to grab an important interview with somebody, he’d not hesitate to use his iPhone 4 in the hand. Jony would know that informal handheld shooting would add a sense of urgency or intimicay to his media file – he’d say: “There’s no need for handheld slickness, we’re over that now”. Continue reading