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May 24 2013

11:01

My next ebook: the Data Journalism Heist

Data Journalism Heist data journalism ebook

In the next couple of months I will begin publishing my next ebook: Data Journalism Heist.

Data Journalism Heist is designed to be a relatively short introduction to data journalism skills, demonstrating basic techniques for finding data, spotting possible stories and turning them around to a deadline.

Based on a workshop, the emphasis is on building confidence through speed and brevity, rather than headline-grabbing spectacular investigations or difficult datasets (I’m hoping to write a separate ebook on the latter at some point).

If you’re interested in finding out about the book, please sign up on the book’s Leanpub page.

Meanwhile, I’m looking for translators for Scraping for Journalists – get in touch if you’re interested.

 


Filed under: online journalism Tagged: Data Journalism Heist, ebook, Scraping for Journalists
11:01

My next ebook: the Data Journalism Heist

Data Journalism Heist data journalism ebook

In the next couple of months I will begin publishing my next ebook: Data Journalism Heist.

Data Journalism Heist is designed to be a relatively short introduction to data journalism skills, demonstrating basic techniques for finding data, spotting possible stories and turning them around to a deadline.

Based on a workshop, the emphasis is on building confidence through speed and brevity, rather than headline-grabbing spectacular investigations or difficult datasets (I’m hoping to write a separate ebook on the latter at some point).

If you’re interested in finding out about the book, please sign up on the book’s Leanpub page.

Meanwhile, I’m looking for translators for Scraping for Journalists – get in touch if you’re interested.

 

11:01

My next ebook: the Data Journalism Heist

Data Journalism Heist data journalism ebook

In the next couple of months I will begin publishing my next ebook: Data Journalism Heist.

Data Journalism Heist is designed to be a relatively short introduction to data journalism skills, demonstrating basic techniques for finding data, spotting possible stories and turning them around to a deadline.

Based on a workshop, the emphasis is on building confidence through speed and brevity, rather than headline-grabbing spectacular investigations or difficult datasets (I’m hoping to write a separate ebook on the latter at some point).

If you’re interested in finding out about the book, please sign up on the book’s Leanpub page.

Meanwhile, I’m looking for translators for Scraping for Journalists – get in touch if you’re interested.

 


Filed under: online journalism Tagged: Data Journalism Heist, ebook, Scraping for Journalists

May 10 2013

09:06

Free ebook: Citizen Video – training and engaging citizens in video journalism

Videographer Franzi Baehrle has published an ebook documenting lessons in delivering video training to non-journalists.

The ebook was part of her final project for the MA Online Journalism at Birmingham City University, and based on her experiences of working with communities online and offline in Birmingham, with the Guardian Media Group’s n0tice project, the Birmingham Mail’s digital team, and independently.

I forgot to blog about it at the time it was published last Autumn, but better late than never: it’s an excellent piece of work, and well worth reading.

09:06

Free ebook: Citizen Video – training and engaging citizens in video journalism

Videographer Franzi Baehrle has published an ebook documenting lessons in delivering video training to non-journalists.

The ebook was part of her final project for the MA Online Journalism at Birmingham City University, and based on her experiences of working with communities online and offline in Birmingham, with the Guardian Media Group’s n0tice project, the Birmingham Mail’s digital team, and independently.

I forgot to blog about it at the time it was published last Autumn, but better late than never: it’s an excellent piece of work, and well worth reading.

April 27 2012

13:04

Free Data Journalism Handbook launched tomorrow

Data Journalism Handbook

I’ve contributed to a “free, open-source book that aims to help journalists to use data to improve the news” – and it will be published online tomorrow (Saturday 28th April)

The Data Journalism Handbook was coordinated by the European Journalism Centre and the Open Knowledge Foundation (in particular Liliana Bounegru), and includes contributions from:

“Dozens of data journalism’s leading advocates and best practitioners – including from Australian Broadcasting Corporation, the BBC, the Chicago Tribune, Deutsche Welle, the Guardian, the Financial Times, Helsingin Sanomat, La Nacion, the New York Times, ProPublica, the Washington Post, the Texas Tribune, Verdens Gang, Wales Online, Zeit Online and many others.”

The book will be available for download at datajournalismhandbook.org under a Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike License. There will also be a printed and e-book version published by O’Reilly Media.

13:04

Free Data Journalism Handbook launched tomorrow

Data Journalism Handbook

I’ve contributed to a “free, open-source book that aims to help journalists to use data to improve the news” – and it will be published online tomorrow (Saturday 28th April)

The Data Journalism Handbook was coordinated by the European Journalism Centre and the Open Knowledge Foundation (in particular Liliana Bounegru), and includes contributions from:

“Dozens of data journalism’s leading advocates and best practitioners – including from Australian Broadcasting Corporation, the BBC, the Chicago Tribune, Deutsche Welle, the Guardian, the Financial Times, Helsingin Sanomat, La Nacion, the New York Times, ProPublica, the Washington Post, the Texas Tribune, Verdens Gang, Wales Online, Zeit Online and many others.”

The book will be available for download at datajournalismhandbook.org under a Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike License. There will also be a printed and e-book version published by O’Reilly Media.

October 21 2010

07:58

Review: Yahoo! Pipes tutorial ebook

Pipes Tutorial ebook

I’ve been writing about Yahoo! Pipes for some time, and am consistently surprised that there aren’t more books on the tool. Pipes Tutorial – an ebook currently priced at $14.95 – is clearly aiming to address that gap.

The book has a simple structure: it is, in a nutshell, a tour around the various ‘modules’ that you combine to make a pipe.

Some of these will pull information from elsewhere – RSS feeds, CSV spreadsheets, Flickr, Google Base, Yahoo! Local and Yahoo! Search, or entire webpages.

Some allow the user to input something themselves – for example, a search phrase, or a number to limit the type of results given.

And others do things with all the above – combining them, splitting them, filtering, converting, translating, counting, truncating, and so on.

When combined, this makes for some powerful possibilities – unfortunately, its one-dimensional structure means that this book doesn’t show enough of them.

Modules in isolation

While the book offers a good introduction into the functionality of the various parts of Yahoo! Pipes, it rarely demonstrates how those can be combined. Typically, tutorial books will take you through a project that utilises the power of the tools covered, but Pipes Tutorial lacks this vital element. Sometimes modules will be combined in the book but this is mainly done because that is the only way to show how a single module works, rather than for any broader pedagogical objective.

At other times a module is explained in isolation and it is not explained how the results might actually be used. The Fetch Page module, for example – which is extremely useful for scraping content from a webpage – is explained without reference to how to publish the results, only a passing mention that the reader will have to use ‘other modules’ to assign data to types, and that Regex will be needed to clean it up.

Regex itself – possibly one of the most useful parts of Yahoo! Pipes – is cursorily tackled, and the reader pointed to resources elsewhere. The same applies to YQL – the language that allows you to interrogate data sources. Likewise, the Web Service module which allows you to connect with an API, isn’t illustrated with any practical guidance on how to use it.

The book makes no mention of the ability to clone pipes published by others on Yahoo! Pipes, and misses a big opportunity to provide links to working pipes that the user can clone and play with themselves – or indeed any online support that I can see other than a blog that currently has 2 instructional posts.

Despite all the above omissions, the lack of similar books mean this is still a useful resource for aspiring data journalists. It provides an insight into the possibilities of Pipes, even if it doesn’t quite take you through how to exploit those.

PS: If you’ve read any other books on Yahoo! Pipes (including this one) let me know whether they’re any use.

September 21 2010

16:00

Foreign Policy quickly turns daily dispatches from northern Afghanistan into its first ebook

Susan Glasser, editor-in-chief of Foreign Policy, wrote a piece for the new issue of our sister publication Nieman Reports on how she relaunched the magazine’s slow-paced website in 2008, turning it into a vibrant, go-to place for international news and commentary, ramping up the amount and variety of content published everyday. The site now runs multiple daily feature stories and a network of notable blogs (as compared to a single story “every day or so” and just a single blog before the relaunch).

To Glasser’s credit, FP is still experimenting. Foreign Policy is now promoting its first ebook, Waiting for the Taliban: A Journey through Northern Afghanistan. The book is a compilation of daily dispatches filed by war reporter Anna Badkhen from April of this year. It’s available on Amazon for $2.99.

Glasser commissioned the pieces after Badkhen received a grant from the nonprofit Center for Investigative Reporting to return to Afghanistan, where she did reporting in 2001, 2002, and 2004. The grant covered Badkhen’s substantial costs (translators, drivers, satellite phone). Glasser said that when Badkhen finished her series, the work felt like it could fit into the broader genre of travel literature — perhaps making a better read as a book than as individual postings. But any such book would need to be published quickly, given the timeliness of the material. “We thought, well, that’s exactly where ebooks are going and should be going,” Glasser said.

This first ebook is a good test case for Foreign Policy because the investment it required was relatively low. The work got a second edit mainly for clarity, consistency, and structure by Badkehn’s primary editor, Britt Peterson, who said the work “translated well” into book form. Badkhen wrote an introduction. All that was left was production, which Amazon handled.

“We don’t know how many copies we can sell,” Glasser told me. “We’re trying to understand what kind of business [ebooks] can be.”

For now, Amazon is serving as publisher of the book, which means they handled conversion of the text into Kindle format (Foreign Policy sent them a Word doc) and cover (with input from FP editors and Badkhen). Amazon is also taking the lead on promotion, sending out email blasts and featuring the book for likely buyers on the site. Slate Group, which owns Foreign Policy, will take a cut of the sales. Badkhen will also get a share. Badkhen and Glasser wouldn’t disclose the exact percentages.

Amazon hasn’t released initial sales numbers to Foreign Policy yet, but Glasser pointed out the book cracked the Amazon Bestseller list for paid Kindle books its first weekend (the 9/11 anniversary), sliding in around slot 50. As of today, Badkhen’s book holds the number one slot for all Amazon books in the 20th Century world history section and the Middle East travel section. Those rankings are updated hourly, so it’s difficult to say what kind of overall sales the book is pulling in.

Badkhen noticed that people who have bought her book have also bought books unrelated to foreign policy (like this thriller in a small Texas town). “I think my excitement comes from the idea that I’ll reach an unexpected audience,” she told me. “As a journalist, I believe my job is to reach as many people as I possibly can. A lot of times we’re preaching to the choir.”

This isn’t the first time a magazine has repackaged content for a quick-turn ebook. For instance, Newsweek published, A Long Time Coming, shortly after the 2008 presidential campaign. That book was written by Evan Thomas, using the reporting of several Newsweek staff writers from the trail. Unlike Waiting for the Taliban, Thomas’ book was later published in print format. Foreign Policy’s model is straight ebook.

Glasser and Badkhen, who have both written books (Badkhen has a book coming out in print this October, also on Afghanistan), agreed that ebook publishing and book publishing are miles apart. Glasser’s book on Russia, Kremlin Rising, was considered a “quick turn” — which in publishing terms meant it still took six months to make it to bookshelves after editing was complete. “The whole world can be reinvented between January and June,” Glasser said. “It was an agonizing wait.”

March 22 2010

02:38

Christmas Dollar Store Style E-book.

How To Decorate, Entertain And Create Beautiful Christmas Gifts Using Only Ordinary Items From Any Dollar Store. Create Christmas Gifts With Class – For A Lot Less Cash.
Christmas Dollar Store Style E-book.

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February 01 2010

19:11

Printcasting 1.5 Boosts Design for On-Demand Publishing

A funny thing happens when you win a contest like the Knight News Challenge. Suddenly, what was once just a wacky idea that you threw into a web form becomes a long list of things you have to do. And those of you who are lucky enough to be filling out a full Knight News Challenge proposal this week for the second phase of the competition should take note: If you win, you have to do all of it.

If you haven't seen the list of features we originally promised to build into Printcasting, let's just say it was pretty darned long. So it's with great satisfaction that I can say that, 18 months after our Knight-funded Printcasting project started, we have finally completed all of the features we promised.

But that doesn't mean we're finished. If anything, we've made our list even longer thanks to constant feedback from people who call us up to say, "Printcasting would perfectly fit my needs if you could just add this one extra thing..."

Introducing Printcasting 1.5

To those of you who have been asking for more control over publishing and design -- pay attention. This week we'll take a huge step forward by rolling out Printcasting 1.5, which is all about giving more control to publishers. You can see a quick preview of some of the 1.5 features here:


The elevator pitch for those who don't want to watch the video is that Printcasting 1.5 has much more professional-looking templates, more options for how text and pictures can be arranged on a page, more control over fonts, and some really cool design features for header images.

We call this a "dot-five" release because it's really an incremental step toward the even more ambitious Printcasting 2.0, which will be a complete rewrite in Drupal 6 that will be more usable by the open source community. (We will also open source the Drupal 5 version once we're satisfied with where it's at).

We say that this release is all about publishers because, until relatively recently, we were still working on an extremely complicated self-serve advertising system. It was important to get the advertising system to work (and it was an important part of our Knight News Challenge proposal); but, to be frank, we haven't seen a lot of interest from the small businesses it was designed for.

One reason is the economy. Many of those businesses either cut their marketing budgets or flat out went out of business in 2009. You could say that it was the second worst time in American history to launch an advertising tool, with the first worst being the Great Depression. I continue to be a believer in the idea of "democratizing" print ad publishing, but it will take more time to get the features just right, and attract interest from time and cash-starved businesses.

Surprise! Businesses Need Democratized Publishing, Too

While we haven't seen interest from businesses in buying ads, we have seen a ton of interest from companies and organizations that want to use Printcasting, or utilize the democratized workflow that's behind it. The common thread with these large organizations is something we never anticipated but which now makes sense: They need help spreading the work of publishing within their own walls, democratizing from the inside out.

These organizations run the gamut from publishers (including but not limited to newspapers) to membership organizations, and their needs seem to increase as the economy forces companies to do more with less. We hope to be able to work with some of these organizations as partners.

We also continue to get attention from the tech community. MIT included us in a list of Research to Watch, and O'Reilly will include us in a session at their Tools of Change in Publishing conference, along with our friends from RIT's Open Publishing Lab and Spot.us.

Looking Ahead

So where does this leave us for June 1, the first day after our Knight News Challenge grant runs out? When we're not designing and coding, we're also thinking quite a bit about how to keep Printcasting.com going. We also want to make it do even more, and have been working on ideas. I naturally can't get into details about those plans, but they're exciting and I hope to be able to talk more publicly about them after they firm up.

In the meantime, we'll maintain laser-like focus on the user experience. Among our top priorities are:
  • Launch Printcasting 2.0 on Drupal 6. My challenge to the development team is to complete this by the end of February.
  • Roll out more partnerships We've inked one to-be announced partnership with a Latin American newspaper, with a second in the wings, and are deep in discussions with a well-known membership organization. We also hope to work with some smaller non-profit news organizations that have reached out to us. Think your company and organization could make for a good Printcasting partner? Fill out this form and we'll get in touch with you. (On a side note, we've had many discussions with U.S. newspapers, but sadly most have stalled as most of those papers deal with collapsing business models).
  • More promotion in Bakersfield through our sponsor / partner The Bakersfield Californian. After Printcasting 1.5 launches, the Californian plans to seriously ramp up marketing of the service in both print and online. We've already seen some increases in usage from some test promos.
  • Experiment with e-book formats starting with ePub, which is what Apple is using for the recently announced iPad. I was really excited to see Apple adopt this open standard, rather than promote a new proprietary format. Those of you who think Printcasting is all about paper may be surprised to hear that we're thinking about e-books, but the truth is that Printcasting has never been just about print. It's a digital technology platform that creates content that is designed to be read in your hand. The more visual e-readers become, the more important layout and design will be. We hope to make our service an integral part of the e-book and e-publishing ecosystem.

So that's what we're up to. Please give Printcasting 1.5 a try this week (we'll post an update on our Twitter feed when it's ready), and get ready for more fun stuff in the future.

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