Interview: Nicolas Kayser-Bril, head of datajournalism at

Past OJB contributor Nicolas Kayser-Bril is now in charge of datajournalism at, a recently launched news site that defines itself as an “open think-tank”.

“Acting as curators, selecting and presenting content taken deep in the immense and self-expanding vaults of the internet,” explains Nicolas, “the Owni team links to the best and does the rest.”

I asked Nicolas 2 simple questions on his work at Owni. Here are his responses:

What are you trying to do?

What we do is datajournalism. We want to use the whole power of online and computer technologies to bring journalism to a new height, to a whole new playing field. The definition remains vague because so little has been made until now, but we don’t want to limit ourselves to slideshows, online TV or even database journalism.

Take the video game industry, for instance. In the late 1970’s, a personal computer could be used to play Pong clones or text-based games. Since then, a number of genres have flourished, taking action games to 3D, building an ever-more intelligent AI for strategy games, etc. In the age of the social web, games were quick to use Facebook and even Twitter.

Take the news industry. In the late 1970’s, you could read news articles on your terminal. In the early 2010’s you can, well… read articles online! How innovative is that? (I’m not overlooking the innovations you’ll be quick to think of, but the fact remains that most online news content are articles.)

We want to enhance information with the power of computers and the web. Through software, databases, visualizations, social apps, games, whatever, we want to experiment with news in ways traditional and online media haven’t done yet.

What have you achieved?

We started to get serious about this in February, when I joined the mother company (22mars) full-time. In just a month, we have completed 2 projects

The first one, dubbed Photoshop Busters (see it here), gives users digital forensics tools to assess the authenticity of an image. It was made as a widget for one of our partners,

More importantly, we made a Facebook app, Where do I vote? There, users can find their polling station and their friends’ for the upcoming regional election in France.

It might sound underwhelming, but it required finding and locating the addresses of more than 35,000 polling stations.

On top of convincing a reluctant administration to hand over their files, we set up a large crowdsourcing effort to convert the documents from badly scanned PDFs to computer-readable data. More than 7,000 addresses have been treated that way.

Dozens of other ideas are in the works. Within, we want to keep the ratio of developers/non-developers to 1, so as to be able to go from idea to product very quickly. I code most of my ideas myself, relying on the team for help, ideas and design.

In the coming months, we’ll expand our datajournalism activities to include another designer, a journalist and a statistician. Expect more cool stuff from

19 thoughts on “Interview: Nicolas Kayser-Bril, head of datajournalism at

  1. Pingback: links for 2010-03-19 « Onlinejournalismtest's Blog

  2. Pingback: Interview d’Owni sur l’Online Journalism Blog |

  3. Pingback: Interview: Nicolas Kayser-Bril, head of datajournalism at «

  4. Pingback: Medial Digital» Linktipps Neu » Linktipps zum Wochenstart: Publizieren ohne Orchester

  5. Pingback: Datajournalism: nuove frontiere per l’ informazione | LSDI

  6. Pingback: Medial Digital» Interviews mit Innovatoren Neu Unternehmer-Journalismus » “Labor für innovativen Journalismus” – Interview mit OWNI-Datenchef Nicolas Kayser-Bril

  7. Pingback: [On the Web this week] Wikileaks, Pulitzer prize loves multimedia, 70 databases about the planet | Data is Huge

  8. Pingback: There’s money to be made in the data world | Driven by Data

  9. protein bars

    whoah this blog is fantastic i like reading your articles.
    Stay up the good work! You understand, many individuals are looking
    round for this information, you can aid them greatly.

  10. Calvin Klein Underwear

    I leave a response whenever I appreciate a article on
    a blog or I have something to valuable to contribute to the discussion.
    It’s triggered by the passion communicated in the article I
    read. And on this post Interview: Nicolas Kayser-Bril, head of datajournalism at | Online Journalism Blog.
    I was actually excited enough to drop a thought 🙂 I actually do have a
    couple of questions for you if you usually
    do not mind. Could it be just me or does it look like some of the remarks appear like coming from brain dead individuals?
    😛 And, if you are posting on other sites, I would like to follow anything
    fresh you have to post. Could you make a list every one of your social
    pages like your linkedin profile, Facebook page or twitter feed?

  11. photoshop

    Even if the instruction manual is a little confusing there are plenty of books and step-by-step online tutorials to help you navigate Photoshop CS5.
    This review appears to be like at what it has to provide.
    An important part of the Marquee Tool of Photoshop, the Single Row Marquee forms
    the genesis of Photoshop’s selection platform with Rectangular Marquee Tool, Elliptical Marquee Tool and Single Column Marquee.
    Alt-click on Windows or Option click on a Mac on a tool to pop out a window that shows the available hidden tools.

    Learning how to retouch can take months for basic
    skills, and a lifetime to develop the most skilled professionals.
    Though Photoshop CS5 doesn’t contain a dedicated polarizing filter preset, it is easy to make
    simulate one using a layer and a few tweaks. Now choose an appropriate starting point, to start drawing your CP.
    I have not in fact come across this method anywhere else on the web, so I
    decided I’d share this with you Photoshop rookies.
    If you want to enhance the equality of one’s image, you’ll be able to now do that by means of these equipment of most
    recent Photoshop tutorial. You could add a drop shadow, beveled effect, and more to the text using this menu.

  12. Minda

    The ancient Greeks and Romans believed they were tears of the Gods and splinters from falling stars.

    Excellent performances: I really like that the
    series has new actors. Though police games are fun, it is important to avoid too much violence.

  13. Certified nursing assistant quebec

    Hi there! I just wanted to ask if you ever have any problems with hackers?
    My last blog (wordpress) was hacked and I ended up losing a
    few months of hard work due to no back up. Do you have any solutions to stop hackers?

  14. Venus Factor Program

    Very great post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wished to mention that I’ve really
    loved browsing your weblog posts. In any case
    I’ll be subscribing for your rss feed and I’m hoping you write again soon!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.