2014 Final Projects Roundup

On May 14, 2014, the Spring 2014 crop of the Future of News and Participatory Media class delivered their final project presentations. We (Ethan, Erhardt, and Catherine) liveblogged their talks. Here they are in presentation order:

  1. Aleszu Bajak & Caty Arevalo: Towards Digital Fluency in the Spanish Speaking Newsroom
  2. Ali Hashmi & Julia Belluz: Can we use Big Data to improve Health Journalism?
  3. Julia Gitis: SchoolsMap
  4. Jude Mwenda: Mapsense: Experiments in visualisation on a 3-dimensional space
  5. Alex Taylor & Elissar Harati: Behind the Expert Sources: Analyzing the diversity of expert contributions in news coverage
  6. William Li & Tammy Drummond: The long shadow of Boston’s gun homicides
  7. Mine Gencel Bek: Future of Journalism Education
  8. Nina Cabaero & Uri Blau: News Trustee Network
  9. Ravi Nessman: Expertpedia
  10. Dalia Othman: NetStory
  11. Jeff Young: Wearable Diaries Project
  12. Hiromi Onishi: Data Workshop for Children: let your kids consume news in smarter way
  13. Alexis Hope & Kevin Hu: FOLD
  14. Stephen Suen: The Newsgame Design Toolkit
  15. Katerina Voutsina: WBUR connecting with the local community

Towards Digital Fluency in the Spanish Speaking Newsroom
Aleszu Bajak & Caty Arevalo

Their tag line is “Breaking down the language barrier between journalists and coders.” Aleszu and Caty felt like they learned a lot this year and came together in their desire to share what they had learned with journalists who work at spanish speaking publications. They have hoped to create hackathons to help newsrooms understand how to present rich multimedia stories, and realized that they would benefit instead from creating a training guide to create multimedia journalism. Their hope is to increase the output of multifaceted products with visualization, podcast and other components, taking advantage of people who have different skillsets in the newsroom during the course of a hackathon or training.

Why in Spanish? Caty explains that there are many improvements to be made in digital fluency in Spanish-speaking newsrooms. Latin America, US, and Spanish news organizations lack anything like the NYT’s Snowfall. If they can connect developers with journalists, they can help close the gap. They also see this as a way to connect younger people with news in a more attractive, interactive way.

Who are they looking to attract to the project? They want to put on the workshop in Latin America and Spain, bringing together developers with data visualization tools in hand. Journalists would come with a story idea and a pre-screened set of data that they had already collected. They see the selection of journalists as key to running these successful workshops, and are recruiting journalists with at least three years of previous experience and a clearly defined project that has a visualization component. To attend, you need to bring a data set in spreadsheet form, as well as a CV and portfolio.

They are doing a test run of their workshop format on Saturday in partnership with Matt Carroll. They will need sponsorship for the real two-day workshop in the proposed locations in Spanish-speaking locales. They have 20+ people signed up for this Sunday.

Mine asks why they limited it to mainstream media. Aleszu says that freelancers are more than welcome. They want the results to be publishable in the end and ideally there would be a place to publish.

Aleszu says the big push for Spanish-speaking media is that we see a lack of these reporting tools in those newsrooms. So why not help the legacy media there?

Ethan says it might be interesting to try one with experienced journalists vs one with a more open admissions policy to see which group had stronger work coming out of the workshop. It would serve as a test of the idea that it was important to screen participants and involve primarily professional journalists.

Catherine notes that the criteria for participation separates the roles of the developers and journalists. But the exchange should also be an experiment in which these two groups see themselves as doing both and contributing to each part equally.

William notes the language of dividing people – what is Aleszu & Caty’s deepened understanding of these categories?

Aleszu says that journalists are inundated with new tools but you realize that you don’t really learn to code or meet coders that you can call up. Part of the goal of the event is to expand your rolodex. Hopefully their event will break down these divides.

Can we use Big Data to improve Health Journalism?
Ali Hashmi & Julia Belluz

They ask, “What are the top three causes of death in America?”
The answer is cancer, chronic lower respiratory disease and heart disease.

But how are they being covered in the media? Chronic lower respiratory disease mentioned only 10 times in the New York Times, while cancer was mentioned 4,400 times over the course of a year. Stories about “news you can use”, like whether red wine makes you healthy or not, appear massively more often than stories about respiratory disease. The health issues that actually affect the population are not always represented correctly in the media. Could they try to rectify that and help health journalists see their blind spots?

The Health Gap (http://sandbox.alihash.com/tool2/) is a tool that takes the top causes of death in America and visualizes the mentions in the NYT and shows that in relation to research funding from NIH, calculating ratios for attention versus mortality and attention versus research funding. Larger circles are more heavily represented in relation to the other two measures.

If I’m a journalist at the New York Times, I could ask how am I doing on covering CLRD, the third biggest killer, yet I’m covering it rarely compared to Parkinson’s, which causes far fewer deaths. Suicide, for example, gets way more media attention than accidents.

They are also looking at how funding goes to these diseases. For instance, over a billion dollars of funding in COPD research, but there is rarely any coverage of it.

Ali says they worked with NIH data that shows how certain factors affect the “life-years” of a person. So they could build a tool that covers disease in terms of a global map. It could also be used by health practitioners®. And if you were an organization, the interactive element they propose for the tool would allow the groups to upload their own data to see how they stack up against other organizations or focused-upon diseases.

Ethan says he is interested in correlating the two ratios that they are calculating – attention v mortality and attention v research. For example, suicide gets very high attention. Attention might actually have a correlation with how much research funding gets allocated to things. If there’s a change in attention does it change anything? For COPD, is the answer that you need more attention in order to change the research funding?

Sam was puzzled by the ratio on the scale of 0-100. Ali says that they pick the maximum out of the set. So Alzheimer’s has the most attention and they get scored at 100.

Mine says to be careful of not appearing to advocate that people experiencing rare illnesses shouldn’t get the same attention.

Julia agrees. She says this is still a crude measure and trying to assess gaps rather than trying to assert that other diseases shouldn’t be covered. Rather it’s a way to highlight existing blind spots.

Ethan asks What’s the plan going forward?

Ali and Julia are going to use WHO data for the tool in the future and to present at the Knight Civic Media Conference this summer. They also want to work doing tests for users to optimize the interface for journalists and the wider proposed audience. In the meantime, the demo they’ve created is live on the web for those who want o explore using the data.

Julia Gitis

SchoolsMap is a project Julia has been working on to put all the schools in the world on a map. It has a data side and a communications side. You click on a map and see a video about the school. Within the school you can see more data (like MCAS scores) or more videos in order to interact. She wants to support schools telling stories about themselves in the system.

Welcome to Fenway High School video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d7FZ2roM3FU

She shows a demo video from Fenway School in Boston, which involves interviews with teachers and students, speaking about what they value most about the school experience. Julia sees the video as a way in which the school community can represent itself beyond the statistics associated with each school. In the video, students and teachers from the school talk about why it is unique.

Moving forward, Julia is hoping that students will us a tool she’s helping develop called From.us (http://beta.from.us/), which allows people to assemble videos from individually recorded video clips.

SchoolsMap video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ewY_eAstmDQ

The video shows Fernando Reimers from Harvard University talking about global education. Then it shows students from different schools asking questions about what the students in other schools do, think about, do for homework, and so on.

She wanted to highlight the videos today to show the storytelling aspect of the project.

Ethan says the project is about making the map, the project is about interviewing local schools and making videos, and then there is a tool that allows people to knit videos together. A school like Fenway will be able to represent their school by putting together their own videos. How does this work in the news space? Is this a journalistic tool?

Julia sees this primarily as a storytelling tool that weaves together information from the outside with the conversations going on among stakeholders within the schools. She wants to build an interactive tool to allow students to discuss their tools and this would serve as an archive.

Katarina wonders who is the audience for this: parents? students?

Julia wanted to show how students would use the tool – to learn about what other schools are like and to interact with other students. So something like a networking tool for students.

Jeff asks about how the data connects with the stories.
Julia gives the example of looking at the MCAS scores around the state and that being the starting point for a student discussion around what that means in the school, which could be archived in videos, i.e. data is the introduction to what the videos are about.

Ethan says that there are a lot of ideas here, but that it’s not entirely clear how they all fit together. It seems like the videos could work well as a way of complementing statistical data about schools and allowing a school to portray itself video video. It’s less clear how the international aspect pitched here works as part of the project.

Mapsense: Experiments in visualisation on a 3-dimensional space
Jude Mwenda

He mentions the phrase “mapporn” in relation to the amount of attention paid to maps. His project inspired by the question: How can we make simulations from Air Crash investigations useful to the visualization of public data sets?

The use cases are for flood mapping, environmental assessment mapping, news simulation as in the Malaysian airline crash.

He shows a slide of Open Street Maps (OSM). The challenge there is that the information is 2D.

Mapsense prototype: http://jmwenda.github.io/mapsense/

He shows a 3D model of MIT that he made. The data is from LIDAR data which gives you digital elevation models, City of Cambridge GIS data, and the base data from OSM. How could this 3D representation help people understand data?

Use cases are meant to make data more comprehensible through seeing it in context. For example, you could put this through Oculus Rift for walkthroughs. The other use case, which he does not elaborate on is urban design politics.

There is also a simple guide/key to understand the metadata associated with the map and how to use the system.

He shows data from the SafeCast project; they collect elevation data but it is very hard to represent that data in 3D space.

Ethan says that Jude has a platform which can use elevation data in a 3D open source way. Google is already trying to do this in various cities, so the new thing you are really adding is about how we add sensor data to this? So we could have the sensor data in three-dimensional space too, but what is the journalistic use case for this?

Jude says the use case is for more immersive storytelling. He sees a way of relating 3D data to physical space and to make stories more immersive and persuasive to audiences. In some cases, newsrooms might use Google Maps 3D to show how a city looks in three dimensions. But this platform could allow a newsroom to create street views for neighborhoods Google hasn’t mapped in 3D, or to add sensor data layers on top of this 3D map.

Ali sees this as a disaster relief reporting tool as well. If you have flooding in Pakistan then you could see what the levels of the water are.

Jude has used this in flood mapping in Mozambique. Using statistical models you can tell who is in danger for floods. You could use this for disaster planning and prevention as well.

Ethan sees two things Jude is putting forward. How do you make immersion part of the news story? To what extent is it a toolkit that lets you do stuff that Google hasn’t built for yet? For Ethan, he is most interested in the sensor data integration. It’s different for air pollution sensing at different elevations. How would you visualize that at different levels? Also they are talking with Joe P’s group about trying to take the in-building sensors outside.

Behind the Expert Sources: Analyzing the diversity of expert contributions in news coverage
Alex Taylor & Elissar Harati

This is a tool for newsrooms to look at their own coverage and for academics as well.

Why do this analysis? They note that there is pressure on news outlets and journalists when reporting on information “black holes” like Syria, North Korea, today, where there is little information coming out of such countries. Experts here have a disproportionate amount of power over how that coverage is framed.

They used UCINET (a network analysis tool) to help visualize the relationship between experts, journalists and news organizations.

They look at a case study in Syria and the role of the Lebanon-based group Hezbollah in the Syrian conflict. The data is from 132 different articles and 14 different news outlets during the summer of 2013 which is when Hezbollah’s involvement was revealed.

They combed through the news articles to identify the experts and add attribute data to each expert, like their nationality and other personal characteristics that might be relevant.

Using centrality measures, they identified the top 5 “experts” that were quoted the most by the articles during this period.

Rami Abdel Rahman, is the topmost identified and quoted expert. He runs the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, based in Coventry, England. He is a dissident and actually a controversial figure, but he is the only source for casualty figures—the only other source stopped counting a year ago. Their graph shows him connected to NYT, AP, BBC, Reuters, AFP and other news organizations.

The Wall Street Journal is revealed to share the most expert sources with other news outlets. The idea here is that there might be an echo chamber of expert sources.

Map: http://zeemaps.com/view?group=966100&x=-2.932899&y=18.711695&z=15

Elissar’s map shows that experts located in the US and outside Syria had a lot of influence whereas there were no experts in Syria.

Potential applications of this tool include academic scholar of research agendas, but also news organizations that could look at the gaps and biases in their coverage.

Ethan says this is the hard work of identifying stories and coming up with a really interesting data set. The most cited expert being a controversial figure is very interesting. Everyone feels like they have to give a casualty figure and it’s interesting to see where that is coming from. He asks how someone would realistically use this in a newsroom. Do you think this would lead people to use other experts? Do news organization differentiate themselves based on which experts they use?

Alex says that a reporter who is under deadline has time as a constraint in reaching out to experts. This kind of tool might help them understand the limitations of that. Elissar says you need a lot of willingness on the part of the media to look at themselves.

Ethan says it’s possible that this is the kind of thing that’s automatable. The question of using it for self-scrutiny is really interesting.

Dalia says that this is an issue with newsrooms when they don’t have a lot of sources. Also sometimes the sources are not reliable. Have Alex and Elissar thought of generating a list of other possible sources?

Alex says that that is what Nini and Ravi’s project is related to in finding new or better experts. It wasn’t something they were considering in their project, but it calls for that as a possible next step.

Matt Carroll says that news organizations might be open to this, but news critics would love something like this.

Ethan thinks this is an incredible proof of concept and data set. The place to go next is how do you build this in an automated way. The second is building the recommendation system. How do we bring in other voices? Does this become interactive?

The long shadow of Boston’s gun homicides
William Li & Tammy Drummond

They are looking at the historical concentration of gun violence in certain neighborhoods of Boston. They differentiate themselves from Homicide Watch by focusing on the victims left behind by gun deaths. They were able to trace back 7 years worth of gun killings in a particular area, and map them to understand the trends in concentration. They can also layer other kinds of data on top of the map. Tammy notes the high concentration of churches that there are in relation to gun deaths.

Website: http://www.theonesleftbehind.org/

William introduces the site. You can filter by year, but it is often the same neighborhoods from year to year that are affected. They used these transparent gun icons to mark the gun deaths. Each gun icon can be clicked to reveal information about the person who was killed. When you click on the gun then it shows the streetview image of their neighborhood, a kind of virtual tour of what’s going on there.

Tammy argues that a lot of the richness of their project is creating a space where you can listen to the victims. They play an interview with Ruth Rollins who describes how she explained her son’s murder to his two-year-old daughter

Ruth Rollins audio: https://soundcloud.com/tammerlin/ruth-rollins-on-sons-murder

They also play a video piece interviewing Kim Odom reflecting on her son’s death: shot and killed on October 4, 2007 while playing basketball outside.

Their goal, through the map and these multimedia stories, is to give voice to the survivors that are often invisible while around us.

Ethan says they have done something very interesting with regard to something that could be replicated. One of the challenges of the maps is that with the big patterns we don’t get the specifics. The zoom in to Google Street View you get a sense of what that neighborhood looks like. One of the things to think about is how much reportorial work we can do on this. We would have portraits with every family member – this could be a life’s work. Through the combination of interviews and neighborhood pictures you can drill down specifically into the issue. How do you combine the data story with the personal storytelling? Are you bringing this to Oakland? How would you bring this to your newsroom?

Tammy says you can take this in two different directions. YOu could develop an audio archive that invites members of the community to share their stories. It would be like StoryCorps. That’s one idea. The map that William has created – there are so many possibilities that you could do with that. Basically what’s required is time and money. This would be applicable in any city that has a gun problem.

Ali suggests 68 Blocks (http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/specials/68blocks), the series from the Boston Globe.

Ethan notes that gun killing patterns differ across cities. The breakthrough here is laying out the maps with the stories to the side, which work as a framework where people can plug in more stories down the line. You could open source this project and encourage other journalists to do this in their own cities.

Uri notes that this really should be in the hands of a nonprofit that makes this their full-time job to keep on top of the stories.

Matt Carroll says that Homicide Watch allows people to update the information about people themselves. The problem is that news organizations don’t keep paying attention these stories. Allowing people to upload their own videos and audio might be a way to give the project broader reach.

Future of Journalism Education
Mine Gencel Bek

She conducted 21 Interviews face to face and over email, with journalism instructors and educators, with a focus on working journalists or former journalists.

We are seeing more jobs in Digital Media, New Media, and visiting fellows in these fields. Institutions are trying to adjust. She shows a slide of the top journalism schools including McGill, Ball State, Emerson College, and Northeastern. Top journalism schools were distinguished by integrating multimedia teaching into their syllabus, hands-on experiences, co-ops in newsrooms, etc.

She was surprised to discover a dichotomy between journalism and technology in her conversations, a tension that underlay many of the interviews. Many journalists want to return to “core values” of journalism rather than incorporating more technology.

Some interviewees did argue that both technology and reporting skills should be covered in the journalism programs.

Another area of issue was which degree journalists should obtain: a journalism degree? a different subject area that gives them depth they can bring to their journalistic work? or journalism AND a second degree for depth and breadth.

Ethan says that one of the key insights from this research seems to be that a lot of journalists see technology as a core tension but at the same time it’s interesting to find that studying journalism isn’t as helpful as studying another field. Is there a way to resolve those two things? Is that a tension for you too?

Mine notes that there is no central guide to follow through these tensions.

William asks if the push for more specialized expertise related to the idea that the world is more complicated? Like you need to more about a particular domain in order to relate it to the public?

Mine says yes and that some readers are also experts.

Ali asks if nowadays journalists have to wear more hats. In the past there was an IT dept separate from the journalists.

Mine says that as a social scientist the critical perspective is always important, which the journalists also emphasize. But journalists also stress data journalism, math and statistics, and other areas. Matt Carroll had to teach himself these skills. From the labor perspective, this means a lot of demands on the journalists.

News Trustee Network
Nini Cabaero & Uri Blau

They open with a problem – a news story could break anywhere in the world at any time. If you are a news organization your people are far away and it will cost a lot of money to get them to the place. Newrooms lack the resources to cover around the world.

The problem they are trying to solve is that news outlets need someone on the ground. Someone they can trust, not just some random person from social media.

They outline the concept of a “News Trustee” – this could be a journalist, a fixer, or another person accredited by News Trustee Network, the business they want to start. They would

They are exploring the business models that could support NTN, including membership fees charged to media organizations and news trustees and percentage royalties on stories they contribute to.

NTN prototype website: http://ntn.sunstar.com.ph/

Nini shows the website for the NTN. It opens to a world map and a directory of the news trustees that have registered. There is a chat function.

They had another Nieman Fellow attempt to register, which went successfully.

They want to eventually have country-specific pages.

The chat function will allow news trustees to chat with each other.

Ethan congratulates them on taking it to early prototype stage. He asks how we ask people to sign up well before we have a moment of emergency? For instance, if the bomb goes off in Ulaan Baatar, everyone will want a contact in Mongolia, but that only works if we have tha tperson in the system already.

Uri responds that they hope to partner with a news organization like Global Voices that could seed the network with people around the world.

Ethan asks if they couldn’t use LinkedIn and searching for reputable news organizations in specific locations where they want to fill out the network.

Uri notes that the worldwide network is necessary for it to be business viable. But

Jeff asks about how organizations might be pay membership fees. Are they signing up to pay a fee because they hope to get money later?

Uri says you could either be the mediator and take a cut, or simply connect them allow for the negotiation of any pay. In the latter case you would need a fee from both sides upfront. Nini feels like that the membership fee is important because it establishes a contract upfront that people have bought into.

David Haddad mentions Storyful, which grew thanks to its ability to connect people around the world. He thinks they make money through subscription fees now after the demonstrated value.

Nini says that tapping into an existing network like LinkedIn or Storyful might be a good practice.

Alex asks about the vetting process for joining the site.

Uri says that they potential members would need material used by a reporter in breaking news coverage, and that process would be evolving.

Ravi Nessman

The problem Ravi is trying to solve is the time and knowledge problem. Newsroom has shrunk by a third since 1992, and reporters are asked to produce more stories in less time than before. The Oregonian journalists are required to post three times a day.

They are assigned stories in areas they don’t know anything about. They produce poor quality stories as a result, and might overuse the same set of experts again and again.

Meet Expertpedia. Ravi’s proposed system provides a list of proven, respected experts on news topics, with access to their academic research, op-eds and media mentions, and their contact information, as well as reviews of how well these experts perform on television or how useful they are in interviews.

You could rank the experts by citations, grabbed from Google Scholar. Author of the first article in Google Scholar becomes the first listing in Expertpedia. Google News search is then used to grab any mentions of that expert in the news. University websites would additionally be combed to grab contact info for the author. Ravi wants to figure out some way to reduce the amount of overexposure of any given expert in the system.

The goal is an uncurated resource, that functions essentially as a lightweight search engine. Although, ratings by journalists on experts can add to the relevancy engine.

Problems that Ravi admits include timeliness: research is often connected to older phenomena and contexts. Op-ed searches will be biased toward the most recent headlines rather than the most relevant. And relying online searches means that you could get random artifacts from their search process.

Ethan says that Ra vi has done a good job of defining a classic problem of journalists. However, he notes that relying on citation rank biases toward older academics rather than the most expert on a given subject—Mark Granovetter might not be best suited to speaking about Twitter. University Relations offices might be really excited about this tool though.

Matt Carroll says this reminds him of the old ProfNet, which was a great source. Matt likes the rating idea—that’s the real value here if you can get journalists to go back and review the experts they connect to.

Ethan notes that ProfNet works for PR professionals—it’s built for speed. It’s probably not great for journalists where the need is expertise. For those of us who care about diversity in the news space, then that’s another dimension. These algorithms all have politics, which need to be recognized. It’s important think further about how automatable this solution is.

Dalia Othman

Most journalists look for the story and try to tell it. Many questions arise out of the issue of how this works with the rise of citizen journalism.

The Berkman Center’s NetStory working group, which Dalia runs with Heather Craig, organized a workshop earlier this year looking at the Bangladeshi riots. The noticed there is a knowledge gap between wanting to tell a story and being able to do so.

NetStory is is targeting communities, activists, journalism students, and aspiring filmmakers.

Dalia shows a prototype of the website.

They developed a “networked story” card game. That takes workshop participants through the logic of identifying and creating a story through different media.

She shows an example created by Jeff Young from a workshop: http://timemapper.okfnlabs.org/anon/mfav7a-vladimir-putin#2

Ethan says there has been an enormous explosion in Digital Storytelling tools in the past five years particularly with HTML5. He wonders how well having centralized reviews will work. If you build catalog, tools, use cases and then make the reviews more participatory maybe that will work better. How do you sustain and keep it up over time?

Dalia says that part of solving the problem of building a community is running the workshops to bring people into the project.

Katerina sees it as a great way to introduce the tools to journalism students. But not all the tools are great for newsroom use? How do you filter and advise the students in the educational case?

Dalia concedes this is the first phase of the project. The second phase, which requires developer help, will involve tags and the ability to search for certain dimensions like functionality and how tools connect to others in the project.

Ethan is interested to see if this could work for newsrooms as well. The game takes on the question of decision-making around tools really nicely.

Wearable Diaries Project
Jeff Young

Jeff starts from the questions: Could Glass help people tell their stories? Other journalists he spoke with that had used Google Glass said that everything could simply be done with a smartphone, but the new thing was the point-of-view camera.

Jeff has three ideas for Wearable Diaries. The first idea involves occasional on-screen question prompts that the the subject answers on video. The second idea is to automatically record 10 seconds of video every 5 minutes—for what Jeff calls the “B-roll” to collect clips from everyday life. The third idea would involve coaching wearers to record their day by manually recording key moments

The first test was with Primavera and she did a project that went on for multiple days. She was showing a collaboration between artists and scientists at a biohack lab. She periodically recorded footage and then later did a voiceover.

People did not like the idea of randomly recording. The pushback was real. They decided that was a bad idea. They want to experiment with using Google Calendar in the future for this.

Leslie’s Wearable Diary: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e7E94o-RecQ

Leslie, another student in the class, did a project with it on her last day in Cambridge. This detailed her trip to the grocery store to prepare for a party. Leslie did not enjoy wearing Google Glass. She disliked the experience from a social standpoint and it distracted her from her day with her friends. Others refused to do the project in the first place.

Jeff says maybe he hasn’t found the right story yet, or that Google Glass may just be more difficult than it’s worth because of technical ease of use and with respect to contemporary culture and social norms.

Website: http://wearablediaries.org/

Ethan thinks Leslie’s video is an interesting way of experiencing someone’s day. It’s more personal than journalistic. What’s a story you would imagine telling with this?

Jeff admits the form becomes more single viewpoint and promotional, which deviates from the goal of most journalism. But you can imagine different features where it might be the right story for this medium. Additionally, they might not work well as standalone but as part of a package of different viewpoints on the topic.

Catherine mentions a project that gave disposable cameras to migrants crossing the border, i.e. groups where it might be difficult to record a groups story. Also there is an opportunity here to counter-surveil and feel the emotion of a person undergoing surveillance like at a border checkpoint.

Jeff so that requires a producer to put together the research necessary to track down those stories and then put the Glass in their hands, but that’s an expensive proposition. Perhaps they could create some kind of pocket protector holder for a smartphone in the pocket instead.

Data Workshop for Children: let your kids consume news in smarter way
Hiromi Onishi

This is for making kids better consumers of the news. At the end of June kids will go to Summer vacation in the United States. But Hiromi remembers her summer vacations in Japan were always filled with many homework assignments. At the beginning of summer vacation the students work hard then there’s a big dip and then at the end of summer vacation you get back on the wagon. She did assignments like measure the temperature every day and collect measurements of flowers everyday.

The newspaper helped the students at the end of the summer by providing infographics abotu the summer topics of inquiry.

She shows charts from fivethirtyeight.com

Hiromi recently hosted a conference about innovation in the newsroom with Amanda Cox, Joi Ito and several others. The issue wasn’t data visualization. Joi said that Amanda is a unicorn – she is unique in her interests and abilities in both statistics and journalism.

The question from parents is How do we teach our kids how to handle the data?

Asahi Shimbun has already been using newspapers in the classroom to talk about important issues.

They have two ideas of how to put this into practice. First, they could collaborate with the grade schools we have already worked with through the Newspaper in Education (NIE) program in Japan. Second option is for them to organize an open workshop.

Hiromi hasn’t done a workshop yet with the kids but she did research what Asahi Shimbun has done in the classrooms. They have done work about the recent natural disasters like the earthquake and hurricane and the perspective of the kids on these things.

Ethan is excited to see that data collection and analysis is already something that is part of Japanese summer educational experiences. Connecting that existing practice to then employing that data in a real context. Like some of the other projects based on the workshops, we’ll know more about it after you’ve carried out the first workshop. Maybe the thing to do is build a workshop around a data set that schools are already collecting.

Hiromi is thinking of talking with teachers in education department who would be willing to do things as a trial. They did a data hack in February with their own journalists but they have never done it with kids. They might try to do that with kids soon.

Ethan is curious about what others in newsrooms think about doing data work with kids. Anybody else working on something like this?

Alexis Hope & Kevin Hu

Their question is how you explain messy, complex news stories that need a lot of context. They previously used the Malaysian plane crash story and how the NYT put an infographic about radar next to unrelated text.

FOLD is a context-creation platform.Their idea is to add structure to provide context, adding elements horizontally and vertically. FOLD enables “curated tangents” out from the primary text of the story.

Since then they have been working on an authoring platform. Then they are integrating web services to help authors. They show the example of an explainer about the Crimean Crisis. You can attach maps, images, text, gifs to different text modules of the story.

They did not yet have time to do user testing. They would like to see if adding context in this way is useful. They want to maximise usability. Feature-wise, they want to add tagging, the reusability of different blocks that other FOLDers have created, and embeddability of the stories on other pages.

Ethan says its really impressive that you created prototype and told the Crimea story with it. What’s interesting when you move into early product phase, are they going to want the features you want? You could push this in all directions. It started as a serious take but then what if you make it an annotation system where people annotate stories with gifs? Ethan believes that the core insight is right that stories can be told through new visual languages.

He hopes they will put it out there so we can see where people go with it and that Kevin and Alexis will find people who will engage with it in a deep way.

Caty loves the tool and would like to use it right away.

David would like the system to know what parts of the story he has read so he wouldn’t have to read them again. Greys out the elements you’ve already seen maybe.

From a newsroom’s perspective they would be able to reuse content modules.

William is curious about what the path forward might be: embedding the FOLDs in news sites or creating its own site like Medium?

Kevin says that building something like Medium is really hard, they enjoyed a good bit of social capital with the Twitter connection. But content is king, so going to the news organizations makes more sense.

The Newsgame Design Toolkit
Stephen Suen

Just last week there was a Newsgames Hackathon in Germany, suggesting the timeliness for his project. He refers to the book NewsGames (http://mitpress.mit.edu/books/newsgames) that provides some of the inspiration to this space and suggests a typology of news games: current event games, infographic games, documentary games, puzzle games, literacy games, and community games.

Key features of news games require fun, replayability, and context (Sisi Wei, NICAR 2013). In his project, he is focusing on the context aspect.

In his project he’s working from a definition of a game something like this: conflict + rules = quantifiable outcome. Following the critiques of serious games, Stephen reminds us games are not a way to “trick” people into consuming content, learning, engaging with serious issues, etc.

He is creating a website (http://newsgam.es) as resource inspired by The Guardian’s Data Journalism handbook. It’s built on the following principles:

– Practical, abstracted methodology to design newsgames.
– Open source contributions – use it as a way of connecting journalists and gamers
– Directory of Case studies

Ethan advocates trying to get folks who are working in newsrooms to come and hack on a news game. This project connects with Dalia’s work and some of the other projects that are designing workshops.

Stephen mentions a project that came out of a recent hackathon (http://newsgameshack.thegoodevil.com/) which is a tool help people think about what could be created.

Alex asks whether Stephen has thought about certain types of stories?

Stephen says yes – systems (where you are trying to describe how a system works, like an economic or governmental system), empathy (social injustice stories), data (any story that has a component of data).

WBUR connecting with the local community
Katerina Voutsina

Katerina outlines a problem currently facing WBUR: how do we enhance our subscribership.

WBUR was founded in 1950 and is known for many high-profile shows like On Point, Car Talk and more. They have two streams for attracting users – online and radio. Online their top three offerings are Common Health, ARTery, and Op-Eds. She also shows their most popular social media discussions.

WBUR’s business model is based on viewing news as a public good, no charge for content via radio or online. They received money through sponsorship, federal subsidies, foundation and listener support.

She is trying to create a diagnostic tool for them (and will be working with them over the summer).

She created a map of WBUR’s subscriber data by location in the United States since 2002, using latitude and longitude. They also looked into the changing demographics among subscribers during the the past ~10 years. Most subscribers were between 45 and 54 years old in 2003, which has shifted to 35 to 44 years old by 2013. Several local towns were the ones with the highest density of subscribers.

When WBUR asks for money they ask for donations, not for money for specific stories. The fundraising technique is about connecting with news and with the station. She looked for missed opportunities. One of those might be incentive for the reader to go online and invest or donate money to the station. Is there a way to use mobile devices and geotag them? Finally, how do we connect subscribers with reporters?

The tool she is developing with WBUR relies on testing with the highest trafficked parts of the site, offering discounts or additional content to subscribers who read that content online.

Her last slide questions the “local approach” since many subscribers are not in the Boston area. Many are in Florida, some in California. Are there partnerships between reporters and communities? Many listeners are more interested in federal news and health issues.

Ethan thinks the next step might be to do some qualitative work to enrich the quantitative work. The Florida listeners might just be snowbirds that leave Boston during Winter months, but he’s less sure of the California listeners. So they should be asking these different groups what would give them a better experience.

Katerina is proposing is an optional download button rather than a Like/Dislike button. The download button will offer the readers so additional content and then the interaction actually records the subscriber’s location and other demographic information, which could be used to grab that qualitative side of the picture.

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About Erhardt

Erhardt Graeff is a graduate student at the MIT Media Lab and MIT Center for Civic Media, studying information flows across mainstream and social media, and exploring technologies that help entrepreneurs from marginalized groups, especially youth, to be greater agents of change. Erhardt is also a founding trustee of The Awesome Foundation, which gives small grants to awesome projects, and a founding member of the Web Ecology Project, a network of social media and internet culture researchers. He holds an MPhil in Modern Society and Global Transformations from the University of Cambridge and B.S. degrees in Information Technology and International Studies from Rochester Institute of Technology.

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