24 Jan 2012




Brian Boyer, news applications editor at the Chicago Tribune, describes PANDA in a video by Jon Vidar.

Earlier this month PANDA, which helps news organizations better use public information by creating new software that cleans up and helps analyze it, went beta.

Users can now test PANDA Project Alpha and give feedback on how it’s doing.

Above, Brian Boyer describes the project’s latest developments.

Boyer is news applications editor at the Chicago Tribune, where he was the 2010 employee of the year. [Read more…]

24 Jan 2012




The Centre for Investigative Journalism came out with a handbook this year for journalists who want to master the art of interrogating and questioning numbers competently. Being able to work with figures and investigate numbers is not a new form of journalism but a skill that all journalists can acquire.

The handbook, entitled Data Journalism or Computer Assisted Reporting (CAR), focuses on an essential tool in a data journalist’s tool belt, the spread sheet. [Read more…]


02 Dec 2011

Tool of the week: Playground, by PeopleBrowsr.

This post was first published on Journalism.co.uk

What is it? A social analytics platform which contains over 1,000 days of tweets (all 70 billion of them), Facebook activity and blog posts.

How is it of use to journalists? “Journalists can easily develop real-time insights into any story from Playground,” PeopleBrowsr UK CEO Andrew Grill explains.

Complex keyword searches can be divided by user influence, geolocation, sentiment, and virtual communities of people with shared interests and affinities.

These features – and many more – let reporters and researchers easily drill down to find the people and content driving the conversation on social networks on any subject.

Playground lets you use the data the way you want to use it. You can either export the graphs and tables that the site produces automatically or export the results in a CSV file to create your own visualisations, which could potentially make it the next favourite tool of data journalists.

Grill added:

The recent launch of our fully transparent Kred influencer platform will make it faster and easier for journalists to find key influencers in a particular community.

You can give Playground a try for the first 14 days before signing up for one of their subscriptions ($19 a month for students and journalists, $149 for organisations and companies).

Jodee Rich, the founder of PeopleBrowsr, gave an inspiring speech at the Strata Summit in September on how a TV ratings system such as Nielsen could soon be replaced by social media data thanks to the advanced online analytics that PeopleBrowsr offers.


Playground’s development is based on feedback from its community of users, which has been very responsive. Ideas can be sent to contact[@]peoplebrowsr.com or by tweeting@peoplebrowsr.

24 Nov 2011



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 Journomel.com.

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…]


24 Nov 2011

Editor’s note: Back in 2009, Tripwire magazine published this comprehensive article about data visualisation tools. Although technology has come a long way since then, most of their tips are still relevant so we thought you’d like to take a pick. You’ll find some old school know-how to bring your data to life. Enjoy!


Most people would agree that the old adage “A picture is worth a thousand words” is also true for web based solutions. There should be no discussion – Charts and Graphs are ideal to visualize data in order to quickly deliver an overview and communicate key messages. Whatever type of data presentation you prefer or suits you data (pie charts, bubble charts, bar graphs, network diagrams etc.), there are many different options but how do you get started and what is technologically possible? In this article tripwire magazine present more than 75 Tools for Visualizing your data on a website and most of the options available will be covered. If you are aware of a tool, script etc. that deserves to be added to the list I would kindly ask you to leave a comment to everyone’s benefit.


Images says more than a thousands words. It is common sense and wise people has followed this rule for centuries by creating illustrations of thier ideas and thoughts. Today it is easier than ever as the technology for presenting nearly any type of information as a graph or chart on a web page is getting really mature. Reading through this article you will be faced with the problem on what technology and specific implementation you should use. It is not a trivial question and I recommend that you use comments on this article to share your ideas, concerns etc. with peer readers. This way you may get the input from the community that you need to create the optimal solution.

The article has been organised into the following sections.

Section 1: How to visualize you data using Javascript-based solutions

Section 2: How to visualize you data using CSS

Section 3: How to visualize you data using Server-side Solutions

Section 4: How to visualize you data using FLASH-based solutions

Section 5: How to visualize you data using Online Tools and Services

How to visualize you data using Javascript-based solutions

jqPlot Charts and Graphs for jQuery

The feature rich jqPlot is a plotting and charting plugin for the jQuery Javascript framework. There are plenty of hooks into the core jqPlot code allowing for custom event handlers, creation of new plot types and adding canvases to the plot.


flot – Attractive Javascript plotting for jQuery

Flot is a pure Javascript plotting library for jQuery. It produces graphical plots of arbitrary datasets on-the-fly client-side. It has been developed with focus on simple usage (all settings are optional), attractive looks and interactive features like zooming and mouse tracking.
The plugin works with Internet Explorer 6/7/8, Firefox 2.x+, Safari 3.0+, Opera 9.5+ and Konqueror 4.x+ with the HTML canvas tag (Internet Explorer where the excanvas Javascript emulation helper is used).


jQuery Sparklines

This jQuery plugin generates sparklines (small inline charts) directly in the browser using data supplied either inline in the HTML, or via javascript all with a single line of code.
The plugin is compatible with most modern browsers and has been tested with Firefox 2+, Safari 3+, Opera 9, Google Chrome and Internet Explorer 6, 7 & 8.


Flotr Javascript Plotting Library

Flotr is a javascript plotting library based on the Prototype Javascript Framework and has been inspired by Flot (above). [Read more…]

20 Nov 2011

POYNTER – By Erik Hinton

Single page apps are great solutions for data journalism. By offloading the complexity from backends and servers, journalists can build rich programs and graphics out of just Javascript, HTML and CSS. In fact, these “backends” can shrink to a vanishing point. We can use Twitter in place of a database. Or we can get even simpler and store (static) data in JS/JSON/XML files.

We can make news apps without having to touch a server or write any Ruby, Python or PHP. This is important. It allows data journalists to focus on developing their stories instead of configuring servers. The time and effort to launch an interactive application is reduced to the point where it becomes feasible for journalistic outlets of all sizes to make applications for both long-term pieces and breaking news.

Using JavaScript frameworks to manage one-page apps

There is something of a disconnect between traditional software development models and those of deadline-driven news. In a more server-side oriented development scheme, we would write a program on our computers, set up a server somewhere, configure it to run the app, transfer the data to some database on the server, make sure it can handle the load of a lot of people looking at it and then finally release it. In the newsroom, we have limited time. [Read more…]

18 Nov 2011



Infographics are probably the best way to show different statistics ( social media, internet marketing, online advertising etc. ) in a pleasant and enjoyable form. The infographic, in most cases, communicates complex datas in a simple and understandable fashion. With a few words and lot of stylish, fun images a well designed infographic for sure will remain for a long period of time in your memory.

Because I enjoyed much of using Twitter, I assembled some of the best infographics around this social media network. Some of them are funny, while others can help you in your Twitter bussiness process.

Sit back in your comfortable chair and enjoy this colorful list of Twitter infographics 2011. For a full-size version please click on each image or visit the source author website.

1. A Visual History of Twitter

Source: Mashable



2. Twitter Facts and Figures

Source: Touchagency


[Read more…]





18 Nov 2011



It has been the rallying cry of the Occupy movement for the past two months – but is the US really split 99% v 1%? As poverty and inequality reach record levels, how much richer have the rich got? This animation explains what the key data says about the state of America today

• Explore the data behind this animation and read the script


Click on the picture below to watch the video on The Guardian’s website:



18 Nov 2011



This UK-based infographic asks if you are addicted to your mobile phone.  They say that 83% of people own mobile phones, and I am thinking they are talking about the population of the UK, because no way for the whole world, you know?  Of that 83%, 35% own smartphones.  Of the people who own cell phones, about half of them admit to be addicted to their devices.  Scary. [Read more…]