Monthly Archives: December 2016

Someone asked me about 2016 and 2017. This is what I said

Crystal ball image by Christian R. Hamacher

Crystal ball image by Christian R. Hamacher

Every year Nic Newman asks a bunch of people for their reflections on the last 12 months and their anticipations for the year ahead. Here’s what I’ve said this year — as always, to be taken with significant doses of salt. 

What surprised you most in 2016?

Perhaps the sheer number of significant developments (compare the posts for 2015 and 2014). It was the year when bots went mainstream very quickly, and platforms took further significant steps towards becoming regulated as publishers.

It was a year of renewed innovation in audio. 2016 saw the launch of a number of new audio apps, including Anchor, Pundit, Clyp and Bumpers.fm, as various companies attempted to be the ‘Facebook of audio’. The only problem: Facebook wants to be the Facebook of audio too: at the end of the year they introduced live audio. Continue reading

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From Bana and #boycottdelta to gaslighting and AI – why we’re headed for confusion fatigue in 2017

Goodbye 2016, the year of The Boys Who Cried Wolf. Not just a year of ‘fake news’, but something more: a crisis in people’s ability to believe anything.

And in 2017 it’s likely to get worse.

To explain what I mean, you need to go back to 2003, when Salam Pax, the ‘Baghdad Blogger’, was posting updates in the middle of the Iraq War. While some questioned whether he was really based in Iraq, that debate was relatively limited by today’s standards. It was a manageable doubt.

The boys who cried wolf in Aleppo

Cut to Aleppo in 2016 and you see how things have changed. Bana Alabed is perhaps Aleppo’s ‘Baghdad Blogger’: a Twitter account about the experiences of a seven year old Syrian girl, maintained by her mother.

But she is not alone: the number of voices speaking from the ground has proliferated… Continue reading

2016 was the year of the bot — here’s a brief history of how they have been used in journalism

Robot gif

2016 was the year of the bot in journalism. In this edited extract from the forthcoming second edition of the Online Journalism Handbook, I outline what bots are, how bots have been used by media organisations from early Twitter bots to the recent wave of ‘chatbots’, and some tips and tools for getting started with journalistic bots.

‘Bots’ are ‘robots’ – only on the internet. Without the mechanical body of their physical counterparts, all that leaves is a disembodied computer script, normally created to perform repetitive tasks.

This broad description takes in a whole range of activities, and so the term ‘bot’ is used to talk about very different things in different contexts:

  • In search you might talk about bots used to index webpages, such as the ‘Googlebot’.
  • In finance and commerce you might talk about bots used to monitor information online and respond to it by buying or selling things.
  • And in advertising and politics you might talk about bots being used for nefarious purposes: for example, to make it look like more people are viewing webpages, clicking on adverts, or arguing for a particular candidate.

This article isn’t about any of those.

In the context of journalism and publishing, the term ‘bot’ is normally used to refer to something which users can interact with. Examples include: Continue reading

Snapchat for Journalists now available in Spanish

Snapchat para periodistas libro

My ebook Snapchat for Journalists is now available in Spanish: Snapchat para periodistas.

The new translation also includes specific examples from Spanish language media and journalists using the platform.

A Spanish language blog post by Barbara Maseda, with more details about the translation, can be found here.

Barbara has also translated two of my other books into Spanish: Periodismo de datos: Un golpe rápido (Data Journalism Heist) and Excel para periodistas (Excel for Journalists)

Civio and transparency in Spain: “We fight for public access to data”

Javier de la Vega

Javier de la Vega

Spanish citizens are now a step closer to understanding how power operates in the country, and how decisions affect them, thanks to the work of organisations like Civio fighting for transparency and access to public data. In October their work was recognised with the Gabriel Garcia Marquez award in innovative journalism for their investigations Medicamentalia. In a guest post for OJB, Nuria Riquelme Palazón spoke with Javier de la Vega, one of the members of Civio.

Access to public information, accountability and participatory democracy may have been a reality in many countries for some time — but in Spain they sounded like a utopia. Entrepreneur Jacobo Elosua and computer technician David Cabo decided that this had to change.

The pair used their savings to build an organisation with the intention of serving those active citizens who, like them, believed in transparency: Civio Foundation.

Taking inspiration from organisations like mySociety in the UK, Ciudadano Inteligente in Chile and the Sunlight Foundation in the USA, they began the long process in 2011. Continue reading

Civio y el poder de la transparencia: “Luchamos por el libre acceso a la información en España”

Javier de la Vega

Javier de la Vega

La ciudadanía española se encuentra un paso más cerca de saber como su gobierno y sus políticos hacen qué, cuándo, por qué y, lo más importante, cómo todo esto les afecta. Y este logro ha sido posible gracias al incesante trabajo de organizaciones como Civio, que lucha por una transparencia real y el libre acceso a la información. El esfuerzo de este equipo fue recompensado el pasado octubre con el premio Gabriel García Márquez en Innovación por una de sus últimas investigaciones: Medicamentalia. Nuria Riquelme Palazón ha hablado con Javier de la Vega, uno de los integrantes de Civio.

Acceso a la información pública, rendición de cuentas, democracia participativa… términos que en países como Reino Unido son una realidad desde hace tiempo, en otros como en España sonaban a una utopía descabellada, y esto tenía que cambiar.

Y el cambio empezó cuando Jacobo Elosua (emprendedor) y David Cabo (informático)  juntaron sus ahorros para construir una organización bajo el servicio de aquellos ciudadanos que, como ellos, creen en la transparencia: la Fundación Civio.

Continue reading

Whatever happened to the audio slideshow?

Remember the audio slideshow? Once one of the most compelling editorial formats – and a truly web-native one at that – it is now rare to see them on a news website. And a whole wave of audio slideshow work is starting to disappear from the web.

The page for BBC’s Jazz junctions – riding New York’s A Train now lacks the audio slideshow it once held, while The Guardian is awash with pages showing gaps where a slideshow should be – like After the riots and Timbuktu’s ancient manuscripts (both from 2007), error messages about Flash (from 2010 and 2011) – or no pages at all in the case of Shrimp fishing in the Wash or Somalia’s refugee camps.

audio-slideshows-chart new-york-times

A search on the New York Times Chronicle tool shows a spike in mentions of audio slideshows at the end of the last decade. After 2010 they aren’t mentioned at all.

2012 seems to have been the last time audio slideshows were part of the fabric in the UK: most of the work on the Guardian’s Audio Slideshows section is from that year, while it represents the peak of production at the BBC. Here’s just a selection: Continue reading