You want interactive?

The Beeb have just published a page showing their interactive guides and graphics, which is well worth a look.

Just another great example of what can be done with data to make it easy to understand rather than leaving it in a spreadsheet.

Rather than just the numbers of service personnel killed – the UK fatalities in Afghanistan and Iraq infographic page offers three views: a combined total and one for each of the countries. It also shows a UK map of where British service men killed in action came from and bar charts for cause of death, branch of the services, age, rank, gender and there is an interactive timeline

Distributed journalism – the problems

status.twitter alert on Thursday afternoon

status.twitter alert on Thursday afternoon

When my Twitter client –¬† Tweetdeck – stopped returning messages, I wondered what was going on. After all like many interested in social media and new communications technologies I’ve found it a very useful service. Wondering if this was and API call problem, or even my own network infrastructure, I first tried Twhirl, then checked Twitter.com – nothing.

A quick check of the web showed my network was functioning, so I piled over to status.twitter.com.

Their first message was simply Twitter was down, later it came up as a denial of service attack.

According to Wired Twitter hasn’t been down since May 8 – and it has become noticeably more reliable (although I did see the fail whale earlier on today, but then I use desktop or mobile clients to access Twitter for the most part).

This does raise an issue for journalism though. If we us third party applications and services – particularly hosted on servers that don’t belong to us (or any organisation we may work for) – then how can we risk manage for someone else’s servers being under attack.

Lots of journalists and journalism organisation use Twitter to distribute RSS feeds, talk to the networks they are involved with, crowd source, share and just be humans in an online setting.

But what happens when that goes down – is it in one sense like your rented printing presses going down or your leased delivery vans stopping working. Or maybe more appropriately, somone cutting a phone line and disconnecting the network.

An interesting question for anyone interested in distributed journalism.

There’s no point in looking back though, or starting to worry about whether we should use a bespoke Twitter-style tool – after all Google pulled the plug on Jaiku. Just a thing to consider when we are looking at the costs and infrastructure that happen. It might be Free to use, as Chris Anderson suggests, but using someone else’s infrastructure is one business cost worth thinking about.

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iCan has app for local news?

Mobile news and mobile news strategies are constantly being touted as the next big thing – delivering mobile content to the always-on consumer is a big dream for many.

Dominic Ponsford’s Is iPhone App future of local news? in  Press Gazette states that

Some 50 Mobile Local News applications are now live in the US on the Apple App Store, according to Inergize Digital and DoApp Inc (via Editor and Publisher.

Dominic rightly says that it’s an interesting idea and only a matter of time before someone does it in the UK.

But this is where a crucial issue comes in – how many local or hyperlocal news outlets can develop this kind of thing?

I was looking back through my bookmarks and found this link to Standford’s iTunesU course on iPhone Application Programming.

Yes this is only one platform, but a very interesting one – particularly given you can use the same technology to create news apps for the iTouch.

Newscasting with the iphone

Rory Cellan-Jones, November 2006
Image via Wikipedia

Just been catching up on Twitter and have found that the BBC‘s Rory Cellan Jones (aka @ruskin147 on Twitter) has loaded up his iPhone with a number of apps.

One interesting one that he has talked about is Audioboo – a audioblogging tool which can allow for the iphone as a transmission device.

Rory tested it out with a story about datebases which you can check here

Nice idea for live sharing of interviews live from the scene as a rough cut.

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Can you see what they’ve done with the data?

A graphic visualisation of tax data from The Guardian

A graphic visualisation of tax data from The Guardian

It’s been said before, but the web offers some very exciting ways for journalists to tell stories. The thing that has got me excited this morning is the Guardian’s visualisation of the tax that FTSE 100 companies have declared over the last four years.

see-how-much-big-business-pays-in-tax-business-guardiancouk

Rather than having to read pages and pages of text in columns, the Guardian has presented a really useful – and attractive – interactive tool in what would appear to be a Flash-based format.

It is a pretty simple interface and a very useful tool, which provides and at a glance view of tax data from 2004-2007.

It is easy to navigate, clean and easy to read and can be navigated by either the symbols of via contextual menus – nice job Guardian techies!

But the best thing for me is not that the Guardian have done this Рalthough it is a highly useful tool Рit is they have  followed the ethic of freeing up their data.

The Guardian has also chosen to offer the dataset it used to create the Flash object in an XML format.

This allows developers, media orgs or whoever wants to get their hands dirty (in a James Herriott style) to mash the data up with other sources to create some powerful artefacts.

It will be interesting to see what comes of them over the coming weeks.

Liverpool Daily Post’s conference

Earlier on today the Post’s afternoon conference was streamed live using Qik. There looked to be a few technical problems, and I certainly couldn’t hear the sound.

The team has now posted the video on youtube, in the last part you can see Alison Gow holding the Qik phone.

Liverpool Post break tax news on live blog

Not only have the Liverpool Post been using Cover It Live to talk to readers and web types about what is going on in the office, the decisions they’ve made – they’re also using it to break news.

1:40
Rob Merrick – Here at Westminster, I am getting over the disappointment of the Chancellor of the Exchequer cancelling his lunch with me (and a number of other reporters) in a last-gasp, panic-stricken bid to save the Crewe by-election for Labour! I jest not. The lunch was mysteriously pulled yesterday – only for the reason to be revealed this morning……Alistair Darling will make a statement to MPs on how he will compensate the 5.3 million losers from the 10p tax rate fiasco, something he clearly feels he needs to do to prop up the Labour vote in Crewe and Nantwich, where the by-election is just nine days away. All eyes will be on Gordon Brown’s Public Enemy Number One – Birkenhead MP Frank Field. Will Mr Field accept the deal – or threaten a fresh revolt? Find out after 3.30pm.

3:50
Rob Merrick – The Chancellor has made his 10p statement – and swallowed a stomach-churning portion of humble pie by promising everybody a tax cut to compensate the 10p losers – somthing he specifically ruled out three weeks ago. The power of Frank Field!! And of the opinion polls in Crewe and Nantwich!!!

3:59
Rob Merrick –
It’s official – the 10p revolt is over. The leading rebel – our own Frank Field – just congratulated the Chancellor for “putting an end to this issue”. Then, turning to Gordon Brown, he said “I apologise without reservation” for his weekend comments (ie. the PM is “unhappy”, “tragic” and should consider quitting before the next election). That will surely end this Brown/Field feud – after all, the PM is not one to bear a grudge, is he? (ahem)

A fascinating look at what can be done with tools like this. Certainly makes me think of the things outlined by Paul Bradshaw in his theory of the News Diamond, which shows how Web 2.0 services can be used to break the news before going on to do the high-quality follow-up in the paper.

Just asked Deputy editor Alison Gow what she thought so far (and there’s still loads more to come):

This is fun but demanding – reporters have really taken to it. And the political reporter even broke the 10p tax story on the live blog!

Going to take a bit of sorting out before the Post can decide how much of an everyday thing these tools become, but will be interesting.

I think these guys are in for some serious interest over coming days – according to their live blog the Guardian have already been in touch.

UPDATED Jemima Kiss, one of their technology reporters has been seen in the live blog. She’s also been saying what the Guardian are up to. And Laura Oliver from journalism.co.uk has just twittered she is watching the conference.

What is interesting is there was a comment about how it was impossible to tell who was a journalist or a reader of the paper (or an interested journo trainer in my case).

Good work, keep it up!