Tag Archives: xfruits

Data journalism pt5: Mashing data (comments wanted)

This is a draft from a book chapter on data journalism (part 1 looks at finding data; part 2 at interrogating datapart 3 at visualisation, and 4 at visualisation tools). I’d really appreciate any additions or comments you can make – particularly around tips and tools.

UPDATE: It has now been published in The Online Journalism Handbook.

Mashing data

Wikipedia defines a mashup particularly succinctly, as “a web page or application that uses or combines data or functionality from two or many more external sources to create a new service.” Those sources may be online spreadsheets or tables; maps; RSS feeds (which could be anything from Twitter tweets, blog posts or news articles to images, video, audio or search results); or anything else which is structured enough to ‘match’ against another source.

This ‘match’ is typically what makes a mashup. It might be matching a city mentioned in a news article against the same city in a map; or it may be matching the name of an author with that same name in the tags of a photo; or matching the search results for ‘earthquake’ from a number of different sources. The results can be useful to you as a journalist, to the user, or both.

Why make a mashup?

Mashups can be particularly useful in providing live coverage of a particular event or ongoing issue – mashing images from a protest march, for example, against a map. Creating a mashup online is not too dissimilar from how, in broadcast journalism, you might set up cameras at key points around a physical location in anticipation of an event from which you will later ‘pull’ live feeds: in a mashup you are effectively doing exactly the same thing – only in a virtual space rather than a physical one. So, instead of setting up a feed at the corner of an important junction, you might decide to pull a feed from Flickr of any images that are tagged with the words ‘protest’ and ‘anti-fascist’. Continue reading

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Live-reviewing a book on Twitter: Here Comes Everybody by Clay Shirky

From 10am UK time today I will be reading Clay Shirky’s new book Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations (Amazon US) – and reviewing it on Twitter as I go.

And I won’t be alone. Joining me will be Antonio Gould, Dave Briggs, Jon Bounds, Paul Inman and Brendadada.

All six twitterers – plus a Tweetscan search for ‘Here Comes Everybody’ – will be aggregated at http://xfruits.com/paulbradshaw/?id=38799 so you can follow them all, or join in yourself.

Teaching journalism students to twitter – the good, the bad, and the ugly

This year I started my online journalism module with three things: Twitter, Del.icio.us, and RSS readers. I asked students to:

  • socially bookmark useful webpages,
  • subscribe to useful feeds through their RSS reader,
  • use social recommendation and tags to discover new sources
  • – and to twitter the whole process.

The results? Frankly, disappointing.

If you think 19- and 20-year-olds are au fait with Twitter, think again. Only one had used it before starting the class. And even afterwards, the journalism students I was teaching hardly hit the ground running. Continue reading