Megan Taylor

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

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2 Journalism Projects About People

One of the many reasons I use Twitter: finding out about what projects journalists are developing and launching.

Yesterday I saw two such posts:

and

1. Tampa Bay Mug Shots, also known to some as “Facebook for underachievers” is a simple and fun glance at booking data in the Tampa Bay area of Florida. A carousel of mug shots is accompanied by some basic crime data and arrest records.

The information presented here as a public service is gathered from open county sheriff’s Web sites in the Tampa Bay area. The booking mug shots and related information are from arrest records in the order and at the time the data was collected. Those appearing here have not been convicted of the arrest charge and are presumed innocent. Do not rely on this site to determine any person’s actual criminal record.

2. The Miami Herald’s 60 Seconds is actually a relaunch/update of an older project, and I worked with Stephanie Rosenblatt on the Flash video player during my internship at The Herald. There are 10 new videos in this series about South Florida characters.

I know that in some circles, this type of journalism may be looked down upon. No evils or corruptions exposed, no event described, no protesters sprayed with pepper spray.

But I see it as an example of what journalism should do more of: exposing a community to itself. In both cases, the profiles are of people who live or work in these communities. Just because it’s also entertaining (’cause I firmly believe that the funniest thing about any person is their mugshot) doesn’t mean it’s not useful and informative. Stories are still being told.

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MediaShift Innovation Spotlight: Represent

The MediaShift Innovation Spotlight looks in-depth at one great mash-up, database, mapping project or multimedia story that combines technology and journalism in useful ways. These projects can be at major newspaper or broadcast sites, or independent news sites or blogs.

This week, I covered New York Time’s Represent.

Represent is a look at the future of online journalism — focused, local and geographically relevant. It’s a different way to group and browse information based on an individual’s political districts.

Some have compared Represent to EveryBlock. It does fill a hole in EveryBlock’s coverage, taking the concept of block-by-block news and expanding it to fit the political realm of information. In fact, EveryBlock recently hooked up with The New York Times to display political news items for each block.

Check out Represent Helps New Yorkers Track Their Politicos to learn about how Andrei Scheinkman and Derek Willis did it.

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MediaShift Innovation Spotlight: Map-Timeline Framework

mediashift_spotlight The MediaShift Innovation Spotlight looks in-depth at one great mash-up, database, mapping project or multimedia story that combines technology and journalism in useful ways. These projects can be at major newspaper or broadcast sites, or independent news sites or blogs. The main spotlights will run every other week, with mini-spotlights running on the off-weeks.

Another mini-Spotlight this week, featuring the Washington Post’s TimeSpace framework for media browsing.

TimeSpace, a Washington Post project, is a coverage mapping framework that displays content from multiple sources in space (via a map) and time (via a timeline). A display map, covering anything from a single city block to the world, is tagged to show viewers where news is being covered. Viewers can also view the news map as it appeared at different points over the preceding hours or days, giving them a picture of how the news events unfolded over time.

Check out Washington Post’s ‘Web Ninjas’ Build Map-Timeline Combo for how they did it and screenshots of the development.

Please let me know of any innovative projects you are working on or have seen lately. It doesn’t have to be from a major newspaper, it just has to be an innovative blend of journalism and technology. Please e-mail me at mtaylor[at]megantaylor[dot]org to submit a Spotlight recommendation.

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Times Labs and the Data Challenge

This morning I discovered the Times Labs blog, where the Times Online is writing about innovation in online journalism and sharing experiences.

It was through this blog that I found out about the Digging into Data Challenge.

diggingdata

DIDC was announced by agencies in the U.S. UK and Canada to search for ways to use the huge amounts of data that have become available to the public.

The idea behind the Digging into Data Challenge is to answer the question “what do you do with a million books?” Or a million pages of newspaper? Or a million photographs of artwork? That is, how does the notion of scale affect humanities and social science research? Now that scholars have access to huge repositories of digitized data — far more than they could read in a lifetime — what does that mean for research?

Applicants have to form teams from two out of the three countries. A list of data repositories is provided, although it doesn’t look like you’d have to use those specific datasets.

DIDC is being sponsored by “the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) from the United Kingdom, the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) from the United States, the National Science Foundation (NSF) from the United States, and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) from Canada.”

Submit a “Letter of Intent” by March 15, 2009, final applications are due July 15, 2009. Winners will be announced in December, and will receive grants to build their projects.

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MediaShift Innovation Spotlight: BronxRhymes Tracks History of Hip-Hop

mediashift spotlight logo The MediaShift Innovation Spotlight looks in-depth at one great mash-up, database, mapping project or multimedia story that combines technology and journalism in useful ways. These projects can be at major newspaper or broadcast sites, or independent news sites or blogs. The main spotlights will run every other week, with mini-spotlights running on the off-weeks.

And this week we’re back to our normal column. I found a really great project produced by two individuals who did not set out to create journalism, but have done so nevertheless: BronxRhymes Uses Locality, Maps to Track History of Hip-Hop.

BronxRhymes is an attempt to raise awareness of the history of hip-hop in the Bronx, the northwestern borough of New York City where the musical style is thought to have originated. The history of hip-hop is illustrated through rhymes and plotted on an online map.

Inspired by music, history and technology, Masha Ioveva and Claudia Bernett created a way for the community to become engaged in its history, at a time when gentrification may be wiping it away.

Please let me know of any innovative projects you are working on or have seen lately. It doesn’t have to be from a major newspaper; it just has to be an innovative blend of journalism and technology. Please e-mail me at mtaylor[at]megantaylor[dot]org to submit a Spotlight recommendation.

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Spotlight Extended, Call for Projects

mediashift_spotlightI started out this month really wanting to highlight newer, better projects in my Innovation Spotlight Series at MediaShift.

I spent a week or so collecting, sorting, e-mailing, and calling. I’ve spent the past 2 weeks doing interviews. And I ended up with 4 or 5 projects I wanted to write about.

Wait a sec, my posts only come out every other week…

I had two choices: hold onto some projects for next month or do mini-posts on my off-week.

I didn’t want to hold onto things because I’m sure that I’ll be flooded with great new projects next month as well. I was concerned that the inconsistency of the mini-posts – I won’t always have the time or material to do them – would affect the series.

But I got over that. And thus I present you with a mini-Spotlight, discussing the natural evolution of journalism from data collection to online tracking tool: ProPublica Puts Spotlight on Tracking TARP Money.

Please let me know of any innovative projects you are working on or have seen lately. It doesn’t have to be from a major newspaper, it just has to be an innovative blend of journalism and technology.

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I Can Has Cheezburger will send one developer to SXSW

Cheezburger API Contest

In English: People who write software are invited to send in cool ideas to improve the software that runs I Can Has Cheezburger if we provided API (pronounced AIEE-PEE-AHHH) access to our photos and shtuffs.

In Lolspeak: Fansy pants and shiny fings for nuuuuurrrrds!!!

There are no words. I’m going to be thinking about this for the rest of the week.

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Apps for America

appsforamerica

Sunlight Labs recently announced Apps for America, a mashup contest to create applications using Sunlight data to “make Congress more accountable, interactive and transparent.”

Sunlight is offering $15,000 as the first prize, and scaled prizes to second, third and honorable mentions.

Entries must be applications that use a host of government information APIs or datasets, including the Sunlight Labs API, OpenSecrets.org API, the FollowtheMoney.org API, the Capitol Words API and other Sunlight APIs and datasets. We also encourage you to use Sunlight’s code libraries, which the Labs recently open sourced.

Adrian Holovaty – Founder, Everyblock.com, Django Project, Aaron Swartz – Director, Watchdog.net, Peter Corbett – iStrategyLabs, Xeni Jardin – BoingBoing.net and Clay Johnson – Director, Sunlight Labs will judge the entries.

Submissions are due on March 31st. Winners will be announced on April 7th.

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Neighborhood Trends For Me

EveryBlock, the darling of data journalism, just releases a new feature: Neighborhood Trends.

Brilliant.

Until this release, EveryBlock data was most useful for people living in the cities that are covered. When I moved to NYC, one of the most exciting things for me was being in a city that EveryBlock covered. (Wow, that makes me sound like such a dork. But it’s true.) Of course, they started covering Miami soon after, so I would have been happy either way.

I live in the Bronx, a borough which is historically painted with the black brush of crime, the red brush of danger…OK, point is, people asked me if I was buying a gun for self-protection.

I’ll not deny that there are some areas of the Bronx I won’t go. But my neighborhood is pretty safe. I’ve only been living there a few months, and as part of my New Year’s Resolutions, I vowed to get involved in my community. No sense living somewhere you don’t know anything about.

EveryBlock just gave me a shortcut to learning about Kingsbridge Heights.

I can see what sources are publishing the most about the Bronx. That tells me what sites to visit and read from. Also, where to apply for jobs. :)

I can see where graffiti is located and where its being cleaned up, (or not). This tells me where the punks are hanging out at night.

Where’s the closest store selling liquor? (licenses) What buildings would I want to avoid moving into when I decide to move? (Building violations) Etc.

I have a few complaints though:

  1. I want to see trends over at least 6 months. I’m getting 2 months here.
  2. I want to see if crime is rising or falling. It looks like the way that EveryBlock gets that information (in 2 weekly police reports) isn’t translating well to the charts.
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MediaShift Innovation Spotlight

I need Spotlight projects!

So far, I’ve covered Neighborhood Watch, The Big Picture and California Schools Guide.

If you are working on, have just finished, or know of a recent project that is an innovative blend of journalism and technology, please let me know.

Thanks!