Megan Taylor

front-end dev, volunteacher, news & data junkie, bibliophile, Flyers fan, sci-fi geek and kitteh servant

“It’s not enough just to have balls.”

Notes from last night’s Hacks/Hackers NYC event with Alastair Dant (@ajdant), interactive lead at The Guardian. Official post here.

finding big stories in small details
is news innovation old news?
social media – share things in the mail
live-blogging – EXTRA!
gameification – crossword
data vis – been there, done that
whats new?
– access to raw data
– wide scale connectivity – growing networks of machines, info, people – speed
– interactive interfaces

– How does what’s new change what’s old?

how do news websites use interactive content?
– galleries and slideshows – browsing and sequencing of audio/visual media – how does the user get to the information? hierarchy?
– timelines – chronology of long-running story
– stuff on a map – location and classification of events
– charts/graphs – visualization and exploration of data
– games and tools – open-ended systems that allow readers to explore data and find their own narratives
– how do you capture user response?
how long does it take?
– < 3 hours – quick turnaround pieces responding to today’s headlines
– < 3 days – features and retrospectives using prebuilt templates and components
– < 3 weeks – new ideas and techniques developed over longer periods when time permits
welcome to interactive island – technology, data, design/narrative
bound by time and interaction of 3 areas
election swingometer – simple way to let users control visualization, make discoveries
world cup replay – data in motion, analyzing and replaying social activity
afghan war logs – non-linear narrative, exploring events in space and time = map+timeline
spending challenge – build your own budget/share (tool/game)
who makes these things?
TEAMS!
– martin shuttleworth – games, Flash, animation, graphics, fast
– mariana santos – after effects, hyper island
– jonathan richards – former journo, trainee web programmer, hacks/hackers london
– alex graul – ruby, graphic design
how do you put it all together?
– a drink from the firehose “can you do a world cup thing for phone hacking tweets?”
– recording the results – partner with DataSift to capture all relevant traffic and send the output
– jonathan negotiated in 1 day a deal to get data in right format for free
– behold the bucketizer – alex wrote a ruby script to bundle tweets into 5 minute windows and calculate most popular words over time
– bring it all to life – martin – flash animation using physics engine to calc how balls change over time in relation to data – assign a mass to a series of balls (ball for each word) – mass of ball changes with popularity of word over time – feeling the energy
– mariana and alastair – UI/UX – frame the action – context – pullquotes, top tweets
– editorial input – jonathan – plug events into a google doc and find images
– integration – staying in sync via version control – git
– publication – supporting page and connection with related content in CMS – .swf
– practice makes perfect – the third time it only took 3 hours

QOTD “It’s not enough just to have balls.” – The Guardian uses circles for lots of visualizations. Balls were kind of a theme. But the balls need to do stuff, convey info.

how to manage/maintain projects for ongoing news?
– build it to update itself
– make sure ppl stay on top of it

archiving?
– limited value in trying to capture everything forever

September 20, 2011 | Comments Off on “It’s not enough just to have balls.” | Categories: Posts | Permalink

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