Editor’s note: I thought this blog post made a really good point: journalists and hackers should hang out together more. So I decided to share it with you. You can read the full article on

First confesstion: I’m not very good with numbers and I don’t know how to program in Linux, so I’m naturally fearful of the super computer-savvy.

Second confession: my impression of a hacker had largely been shaped by a really mediocre 1990′s movie. Great soundtrack, but no way could I do what these folks were doing.

Fast forward 16 years and I’m a convert. Partnering with hackers is a natural fit: as more and more data is available to the public, there are stories to be told.

And despite the way they are portrayed by the media – yes, us – hackers are not in their basements dreaming up viruses to take over the world.

I’m part of a group that brought a Hacks/Hackers chapter to Ottawa, and I’m learning that when journalists and technology collide, amazing things happen.

At our first meetup in May I was surprised to hear from a hacker that he was just as thrilled to meet up with a group of hacks (not quite used to that title) as I was meeting him and hacker friends.

“What do you have to gain here?” I asked, “You can build apps, fusion tables, what do you get out of this?”

“Sure, I can build anything – but you know what stories people need to hear, and what they want to hear. You know the audience.”

Third confession: I was more than a little intimidated when I bumped into Kate Myers and Andy Carvin from NPR at a hackathon held at the Online News Association conference this September.

Kate is the Product Manager for Social Media Tools, and Andy is the Senior Strategist for NPR’s Social media desk. [Read more…]