Tag Archives: Something for the weekend

SFTW: How to grab useful political data with the They Work For You API

They Work For You

It’s been over 2 years since I stopped doing the ‘Something for the Weekend’ series. I thought I would revive it with a tutorial on They Work For You and Google Refine…

 

If you want to add political context to a spreadsheet – say you need to know what political parties a list of constituencies voted for, or the MPs for those constituencies – the They Work For You API can save you hours of fiddling – if you know how to use it. Continue reading

SFTW: How to grab useful political data with the They Work For You API

They Work For You

It’s been over 2 years since I stopped doing the ‘Something for the Weekend’ series. I thought I would revive it with a tutorial on They Work For You and Google Refine…

If you want to add political context to a spreadsheet – say you need to know what political parties a list of constituencies voted for, or the MPs for those constituencies – the They Work For You API can save you hours of fiddling – if you know how to use it.

An API is – for the purposes of journalists – a way of asking questions for reams of data. For example, you can use an API to ask “What constituency is each of these postcodes in?” or “When did these politicians enter office?” or even “Can you show me an image of these people?”

The They Work For You API will give answers to a range of UK political questions on subjects including Lords, MLAs (Members of the Legislative Assembly in Northern Ireland), MPs, MSPs (Members of the Scottish Parliament), select committees, debates, written answers, statements and constituencies.

When you combine that API with Google Refine you can fill a whole spreadsheet with additional political data, allowing you to answer questions you might otherwise not be able to.

I’ve written before on how to use Google Refine to pull data into a spreadsheet from the Google Maps API and the UK Postcodes API, but this post takes things a bit further because the They Work For You API requires something called a ‘key’. This is quite common with APIs so knowing how to use them is – well – key. If you need extra help, try those tutorials first. Continue reading

Quote Twitter conversations with QuoteURL (Something for the Weekend #15)

Following on from the previous Something for the Weekend, Twickie, which allows you to collect responses to a question posted on Twitter, this tool allows you to present a conversation – with impressive control. 

QuoteURL allows you to drag and drop (or copy and paste) Twitter tweet URLs to reconstruct a conversation. Continue reading

Twickie: easily blog responses to a Twitter question (Something for the Weekend #14)

Twickie

Twickie

This week’s Something for the Weekend tool review continues the Twitter theme with a simple tool which helps bridge the Twitter-blog divide.

If you’ve ever posted a question on Twitter and followed it up with a blog post discussing the responses, you’ll have probably been frustrated by the inability to present those responses in the blog post – you either have to link to each one, or copy and paste them from Twitter Search (which means ugly table-based HTML and irrelevant messages, newest-first).

Twickie is a cute solution to that problem. You log on with your Twitter username and password, browse through your recent tweets to find the question you posted, and click on ‘Get @s‘ to see the replies ordered oldest- or newest-first. Continue reading

Twitter/mobile bookmarking with Tagthis (Something for the Weekend #13)

It’s been a while since I did a Something for the Weekend tool review, but Twitter bookmarking service TagThis is such a great tool it needed covering.

TagThis allows you to bookmark any URL you see on Twitter to your own account on Delicious or Magnolia. This is particularly useful if, like me, you use Twitter on a mobile phone or iPod, and often see useful links on Twitter that you’d like to come back to later or ‘file’ for reference. Continue reading

What are your most useful online tools? (Something for the Weekend #12)

I’ve looked at a number of tools in this series, often very new with potential applications for journalism that haven’t been realised. This time I want to turn the spotlight onto tools that you’re using every day, which may not be flashy, but which do a simple job very well – for example:

  • in managing or filtering information,
  • identifying leads, ideas and contacts,
  • producing news itself,
  • distributing it,
  • or allowing users to get involved.

What have been the most useful online tools you’ve used?

Get webpages emailed to you (Something for the Weekend #11)

There are a number of services that allow you to receive web pages by e-mail. These include Web2Mail; PageGetter.com; and WebToMail

All you do is send an email to the address used by the service with the URL of the web page you want in the subject line. After a few minutes (they say) you receive the web page in HTML format in your email.

How is this useful? I can think of a number of ways: Continue reading