A day before the 2012 MIT-Knight Civic Media Conference, the MIT Media Lab (pictured above) is hosting a 24 hour hack day. Dan Sinker, who heads the Knight-Mozilla OpenNews project, writes about what to expect. The following is crossposted from Sinker's blog.
Today, 60 developers, journalists, and data experts are converging on the MIT Media Lab to spend 24 hours collaborating, sketching, and building new tools and concepts to help move from data to stories.
It feels like we’re entering a golden age of data. As we arrive at more sophisticated tools to manipulate and visualize it, and as we understand what we can do with them, we are breaking new ground every day. Those leaps are both technological and conceptual: we are arriving at very new understandings of how data can enhance stories.
Just take a look at some of the recent data-driven reporting, and you see that something decidedly new is afoot:
- “Gay rights in the US, state by state” by the Guardian completely blew me away when it came out. It took what could have been a straightforward list of gay rights laws and cut it into a graphic that allowed you to rearrange the blocks by state population, and even the location of your Facebook friends. The data, and the presentation of it, was able to tell a very different story this way.
- “Where the Heat and the Thunder Hit Their Shots” by the New York Times is a beautiful visulization of what could be exceptionally boring data: analysis of basketball shooting data. But by engaging in simple animations that beg the user to continue to engage, it illustrates the point beautifully.
- “The Message Machine” by ProPublica doesn’t go for jaw-dropping visualizations, but instead blazes new ground in data collection. Curious about the new attempts at micro-targeting political messages, the team at ProPublica built a system to collect e-mails from thousands of volunteers.