ScraperWiki has rediscovered its old free scraping tool – and is now calling it QuickCode

A screenshot from before the 2013 relaunch of Scraperwiki

A screenshot from before the 2013 relaunch of Scraperwiki

7 years ago ScraperWiki launched with a plan to make scraping accessible to a wider public. It did this by creating an online space where people could easily write and run scrapers; and by making it possible to read and adapt scrapers written by other users (the ‘wiki’ part).

I loved it. The platform inspired me to learn Python, write Scraping for Journalists, and has been part of my journalism workflow since. Continue reading

From scoping to scoops: a model for how journalists get their stories

Scoping, relaying, responding, attending, seeking, investigating

Journalism activities range from scoping out a field through to investigating for ‘scoops’

How do journalists find stories? How do we test whether a story is as good as it could be? How do we get better as journalists?

The image above is my attempt to answer these questions. It maps out the six activities that journalists undertake as part of their workflow, in order of value: from scoping a field or subject, through to relaying information to a wider audience, responding to or attending news events, seeking new information and experiences, and investigating. Continue reading

How to find ‘feeds for leads’ as a journalist

When a journalist gets their first job, or switches role to a new area or specialism, they need to quickly work out where to find useful leads. This often involves the use of feeds, email alerts, and social networks. In this post I’m going to explain a range of search techniques for finding useful sources across a range of platforms. Continue reading

Google’s creepy Allo assistant and our rocky relationship so far

where-do-you-live

After playing with Allo’s chat prompts for those too lazy to write their own texts, I began to play with the in-conversation Google Assistant bot. Here are the highlights:

1. You can use the assistant without giving it permission

Whereas other chat apps like Telegram and Facebook Messenger make it possible to interact with bots, Google is making bots central to Allo. Specifically, the Google Assistant.

When you first open the app you are introduced to the assistant. It wants to help, it says, but it will only do so if you agree to give it a whole bunch of creepy permissions. Until you give it those, it will not answer any questions directly. Continue reading

Hello Allo: the first 12 things I learned about Google’s new chat app

very-true-indeed

Google’s new chat app Allo is out in the UK, and I’ve been playing around with it.

There are two key artificial intelligence (AI) features that stick out in the app: firstly, the ability to interact with bots (the Google Assistant, which I’ve written about in a second post here), and secondly the way the app suggests responses while you chat.

I took screenshots during my first conversations using the app to see how the AI algorithms were set up before it had begun to learn much from my behaviour. Here are the highlights… Continue reading

Guardian profiles routinely link to PGP keys – why aren’t other news orgs doing this?

guardian-profile

What a pleasant surprise to visit a profile page on The Guardian website and see a big, prominent link to the member of staff’s public key. Is this routine? It seems it is: an advanced search for profile pages mentioning “public key” brings up over 1000 results. Continue reading

FAQ: Cheap readers and the future of local news

Every so often a journalism student sends me questions for an assignment. I publish the answers here in the FAQ series. The latest set comes from a student in Australia writing for Upstart magazine at La Trobe University, and focuses on the local press. 

1. Is the reader not worth as much on the internet?

Readers have always been worth different amounts in different contexts. It’s not that the reader is ‘not worth as much on the internet’, but that most readers on most websites are worth less. Continue reading