Justin Arenstein is building the capacity of African media to practice data-driven journalism.
This interview is part of our ongoing look at the people, tools and techniques driving data journalism.
I first met Justin Arenstein (@justinarenstein) in Chişinău, Moldova, where the media entrepreneur and investigative journalist was working as a trainer at a “data boot camp” for journalism students. The long-haired, bearded South African instantly makes an impression with his intensity,…
Scraping together the best tools, techniques and tactics of the data journalism trade.
Great journalism has always been based on adding context, clarity and compelling storytelling to facts. While the tools have improved, the art is the same: explaining the who, what, where, when and why behind the story. The explosion of data, however, provides new opportunities to think about reporting, analysis and publishing stories.
As you may know, there’s already a…
A/B with Google Analytics, Lego Rubiks Solver, TV Torrents, and Performance Tools
- ABalytics — dead simple A/B testing with Google Analytics. (via Dan Mazzini)
- Fastest Rubik Cube Solver is Made of Lego — it takes less than six seconds to solve the cube. Watch the video, it’s … wow. Also cool is watching it fail. (via Hacker News)
- Fairfax Watches BitTorrent (TorrentFreak) — At a government broadband conference in Sydney, Fairfax’s head of video Ricky Sutton admitted that in a country with one of the highest percentage of BitTorrent users worldwide, his company determines what shows to buy based on the popularity of pirated videos online.
- Web Performance Tools (Steve Souders) — compilation of popular web performance tools. Reminds me of nmap’s list of top security tools.
The 2012 Presidential debates show how far convergence has come and how far we have yet to go.
What a difference a season makes. A few months after widespread online frustration with a tape-delayed Summer Olympics, the 2012 Presidential debates will feature the most online livestreams and wired, up-to-the-second digital coverage in history.
Given the pace of technological change, it’s inevitable that each election season…
Open Publishing, Theatre Sensing, Reddit First, and Math Podcasts
- Open Monograph Press — an open source software platform for managing the editorial workflow required to see monographs, edited volumes and, scholarly editions through internal and external review, editing, cataloguing, production, and publication. OMP will operate, as well, as a press website with catalog, distribution, and sales capacities. (via OKFN)
- Sensing Activity in Royal Shakespeare Theatre (NLTK) — sensing activity in the theatre, for graphing. Raw data available. (via Infovore)
- Why Journalists Love Reddit (GigaOM) — “Stories appear on Reddit, then half a day later they’re on Buzzfeed and Gawker, then they’re on the Washington Post, The Guardian and the New York Times. It’s a pretty established pattern.”
- Relatively Prime: The Toolbox — Kickstarted podcasts on mathematics. (via BoingBoing)
- Seriesly — time-series database written in go.
- Tablets and TV (Luke Wroblewski) — In August 2012, 77% of TV viewers used another device at the same time in a typical day. 81% used a smartphone and TV at the same time. 66% used a laptop and TV at the same time.
- Tiny Transactions on Computer Science — computer science research in 140 characters or fewer.
Lucrative Downloads, Mobile Money Malware, Robotrading Reality Check, and PITA Programmers
- Recording Revenues for the Typical Artist (Digital Music News) — more than 82 percent of their revenue from paid downloads, with CDs accounting for more than 11 percent. That leaves streaming revenues – including Spotify – with a scant 6.5 percent contribution. (via Simon Grigg)
- Chinese SMS Payment Malware — the virus — which lurks in wallpaper apps and ‘activates’ post-download – quietly gains access to users’ SMS functionality before exploiting a vulnerability within China Mobile’s SMS payment gateway to carry out transactions and access data.
- Wall Street’s Robots Are Not Out To Get You (Renee DiResta) — injecting some reality into the robotrading “IMMINENT DEATH OF MONEY PREDICTED” hypetastrophe.
- Blocker Flash Cards (Gamasutra) — a collection of common ways game developers try to stall progress on something they don’t like. Not common to the games industry, though: I think I’ve encountered every single one of the tactics in various guises. In other news, many human beings are passive-aggressive meatsacks waiting to be composted for the good of the planet.
Mobile Money, Quantified Server, Mobile Chatbot, and YouTube's Content Detection
- Mobile Numbers (Luke Wroblewski) — eBay’s mobile shoppers and mobile payers are 3 to 4 times more valuable than Web only [...] Yelp runs ads on the mobile web, and those ads see a higher clickthrough rate than their desktop counterparts.
- Data-Driven Restaurants (Washingtonian) — Did Elizabeth bring your Pinot Gris within three minutes of the time you ordered it? Were your appetizers delivered within seven minutes, entrées within ten, desserts within seven? Were these plates described at the table before they were set in front of you? Were napkins refolded when you went to the restroom? Was non-bottled water referred to as “ice water” (correct) or “water” (incorrect)? (via Daniel Bachhuber)
- Content Detection Fail (Ars Technica) — five other media organizations (mostly television stations, including some from overseas) had claimed the content of his video through YouTube’s Content ID system. That video? A Google+ hangout where he played NASA videos of the Mars landing. Shonky rights verification is a problem, as Google pays ad royalties to those who claim the rights–creating incentives to lie. And as Google doesn’t pay any royalties while material is disputed and the dispute is unresolved, it’s not really in Google’s interest to make this work either. (via Andy Baio)
Creative Business, News Design, Google Earth Glitches, and Data Distortion
- Patton Oswalt’s Letters to Both Sides — You guys need to stop thinking like gatekeepers. You need to do it for the sake of your own survival. Because all of us comedians after watching Louis CK revolutionize sitcoms and comedy recordings and live tours. And listening to “WTF With Marc Maron” and “Comedy Bang! Bang!” and watching the growth of the UCB Theatre on two coasts and seeing careers being made on Twitter and Youtube. Our careers don’t hinge on somebody in a plush office deciding to aim a little luck in our direction. (via Jim Stogdill)
- Headliner — interesting Guardian experiment with headlines and presentation. As always, reading the BERG designers’ notes are just as interesting as the product itself. E.g., how they used computer vision to find faces and zoom in on them to make articles more attractive to browsing readers.
- Google Earth Glitches — where 3d maps and aerial imagery don’t match up. (via Beta Knowledge)
- Campbell’s Law — The more any quantitative social indicator is used for social decision-making, the more subject it will be to corruption pressures and the more apt it will be to distort and corrupt the social processes it is intended to monitor. (via New York Times)
Choking the Olympic spirit for profit.
I’m violating my first rule. I’m writing angry. But…
I love the olympics. I love sport. And the olympics, still, despite it all, seem to me an incredible distillation of sport’s dedication, intensity, joy, humanity, and drama. Whether it’s the higher order game theory playing out in the biking peloton, the slowly evolving drama of the marathon, the sheer primal…