About

A recent graduate of journalism and physics seeking to mine the depths of open data and FOIs. Tools include iMac, Excel, MySQL Server, Google Refine and various other freeware including the web scraping platform ScraperWiki. Follow me on twitter @DataMinerUK.

Here is a timeline of my data journey. Starting from when I first heard about this thing called Computer-Assisted-Reporting.

Well, computers have moved on since journalists were hacking away on spreadsheets a decade ago so I decided to see how CAR has come along. This proved puzzling. In almost all news institutions it has been overlooked.

So I had been at ITN, BBC and working at CNN during this time of data curiosity on my part. Social media provided some sort of platform to explore data in the newsroom. It being the latest buzz word that execs are actually interested in (unlike data which, in my opinion, is a much more fruitful venture when it comes to generating actual news).

So I did my data journalism stuff out of hours. Gathered a lot of news from social media during hours. This made possible by the many web applications made by developers (as they make money, the sore point in data journalism).

At the beginning of this year, I up and left the newsroom for the programming terminal. To look at applications for data, serious data. I’m now at ScraperWiki. The thinking behind this: The Times paired a programmer and journalist to start working on stories for the web. So the programmer has the journalistic platform as his playing field. So what if you pair a journalist and programmers in the programming playing field? You can make the field. You create the platform for a purpose. And then repurpose it for the story rather than repurposing the story for the medium.

It’s hard to explain but hopefully this blog about my progress will reveal whether this experiment will ultimately work.

Comments
  1. Gary Price says:

    Nicola:
    Hello from Washington DC. Congrats on your blog. Great work and I often find useful material here.

    My name is Gary Price and I’m a librarian and writer based here. For the past ten years I’ve also compiled ResourceShelf.com. I also co-authored this book (http://j.mp/hsPynx) and write for other publications. For example, yesterday I had this published about the new Wayback Machine beta. http://j.mp/gsx8KJ

    Although ResourceShelf was originally intended for librarians that’s not the way it turned out. Our readership also includes lot of journalists, educators, students, and more.

    So, in addition to offering you kudos I wanted to point something out that you might already know. However, I didn’t see it mentioned in your social media tools post (excellent, btw).

    Unless things have changed, Twitter only provides about a very small archive of Tweets. In fact, it seems to be getting smaller.

    Search Example 1: london since:2011-01-21 until:2011-01-26

    http://j.mp/gXDg6J

    Zero results.

    Search Example 2:london since:2011-01-21 until:2011-01-27

    http://j.mp/eOUsdf

    Now you see results for the 27th. So, it appears that the archive is about 5 days.

    If you want to go back more than 5 days check Google RealTime (about a one year worth of posts, cool timeline to narrow results). Google has said they plan to offer a complete archive but that was many months ago.

    http://j.mp/fsanEm

    Topsy, which you also mention, has an archive. How far back I’m not sure right now.

    However, here are some posts from the summer of 2009.

    http://j.mp/eGVgM3

    Thanks for reading and feel free to write back and keep and chat more about
    Online databases.

    cheers,
    gary price, MLIS

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  5. [...] career before he took the big step of starting his own business. I had yet to start my career when I decided to make data journalism my business. My foray into coding is not to build an end-of-line product to mediate information but to build [...]

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