Monthly Archives: May 2018

This is what I learned after teaching chatbots to journalists: 3 takeaways for newsrooms

In a guest post for OJB Maria Crosas points out three main takeaways that newsrooms should consider when aiming for a complete chatbot experience. 

Over the past year I’ve been frequently invited to share ideas around how bots can help newsrooms to deliver news, and advice on how to build an engaging chatbot experiences. And throughout these classes, I’ve also had challenging questions on how these technologies are pushing the boundaries of ethics, artificial intelligence and storytelling.

I’ve boiled down these experiences into 3 takeaways for newsrooms that want to begin the chatbot journey. Here they are…

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This Twitter hack can help journalists to check what a group of people was tweeting about on a particular day

You may have seen a cute little Twitter hack — popularised by Andy Baio — which allows you to roll back the years and recreate a decade-old Twitter timeline. The twist is that you’ll be seeing updates from people who you may not have been following at the time but discovered later.

Nostalgia aside, the same technique could be used by journalists to track what was being said by any particular group of interest at a particular point in time. Here’s how. Continue reading

How to: uncover Excel data only revealed by a drop-down menu

Sometimes an organisation will publish a spreadsheet where only a part of the full data is shown when you select from a drop-down menu. In order to get all the data, you’d have to manually select each option, and then copy the results into a new spreadsheet.

It’s not great.

In this post, I’ll explain some tricks for finding out exactly where the full data is hidden, and  how to extract it without getting Repetitive Strain Injury. Here goes…

The example

fire data dropdown

To get the data from this spreadsheet you have to select 51 different options from a dropdown menu

The spreadsheet I’m using here is pretty straightforward: it’s a list of the populations for each fire and rescue authority in the UK (XLS). These figures are essential for putting any story about fires into context (giving us a per capita figure rather than just whole numbers) — and yet the authority behind the spreadsheet has made it very difficult to extract those numbers. Continue reading