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February 09 2011

08:11

New event! Hacks and Hackers Hack Day Cardiff (#hhhCar)

The UK Hacks & Hackers tour carries on – into 2011. Our first stop: Wales.

Scraperwiki, which provides award-winning tools for screen scraping,data mining and visualisation, will hold a one day practical hack day* at the Atrium in Cardiff on Friday 11 March, 2011.

Web developers and designers will pair up with journalists and bloggers to produce a number of projects and stories based on public data.

We would like to thank our main sponsor Skillset Cymru, our hosts the Atrium and our prize sponsors Guardian Local, Guardian Open Platform and Cardiff School of Media, Journalism and Cultural Studies for making the event possible.

“Skillset Cymru is very pleased to be supporting the Cardiff Scraperwiki Hacks and Hackers Hack Day this March,” says Gwawr Hughes, director, Skillset Cymru.

“This exciting event will bring journalists and computer programmers and designers together to explore the scraping, storage, aggregation, and distribution of public data in more useful, structured formats.

“It is at the forefront of data journalism and should be of great interest to the media industry across the board here in Wales.”

More details

Who’s it for? We hope to attract ‘hacks’ and ‘hackers’ from all different types of backgrounds: people from big media organisations, as well as individual online publishers and freelancers.

What will I get out of it?
The aim is to show journalists how to use programming and design techniques to create online news stories and features; and vice versa, to show programmers how to find, develop, and polish stories and features. To see what happened at our past events in Liverpool and Birmingham visit the ScraperWiki blog. Here’s a video showing what happened in Belfast.

How much? NOTHING! It’s absolutely free, thanks to our sponsors. Food and refreshments will be provided throughout the day. If you have special dietary requirements please email judith [at] scraperwiki.com.

What should I bring? We would encourage people to come along with ideas for local ‘datasets’ that are of interest. In addition we will create a list of suggested data sets at the introduction on the morning of the event but flexibility is key for this event. If you have a laptop, please bring this too.

So what exactly will happen on the day? Armed with their laptops and WIFI, journalists and developers will be put into teams of around four to develop their ideas, with the aim of finishing final projects that can be published and shared publicly. Each team will then present their project to the whole group. Winners will receive prizes at the end of the day.

*Not sure what a hack day is? Let’s go with the Wikipedia definition: It “an event where developers, designers and people with ideas gather to build ‘cool stuff’”…

With thanks to our sponsors:

Keep an eye on the ScraperWiki blog for details about Scraperwiki events. Hacks & Hackers Hack Day Glasgow is scheduled for March 25 2011. For additional information please contact judith [at] scraperwiki.com.

February 01 2010

17:10

Skillwalls not paywalls

Fern Growing from Brick Wall
Image by pigpogm via Flickr

Tomorrow I’m off to Skillset to talk about their new standards framework for journalism. I’m looking forward to the chat around what skills journalists need and not just because I’m involved in delivering this stuff to our future journalists. What I’m equally interested in is what skills the industry think they need (the framework has been created in consultation with industry and accreditation bodies) as it says a lot about what they think a journalist actually is – what defines the job.

It’s been something on my mind since the newsrewired conference a few weeks ago when the vexed debate of identity reared its head. That debate is best paraphrased as “grumblings on why people can’t be called a journalist” and left at that.

But the skillset visit and a chat with Francois Nel about onions and data, pushed it to the front of my thinking again.

The best way I can sum-up where that thinking has got me is Skillwalls.

A skillwall is the best way I have found to balance the argument (in my head) of what sets journalists apart with the issue of what will people pay for.

In terms of the ‘definition’ debate a journalist would be defined by which skills your average punter/blogger/anyone-you-don’t-want-to-call-a-journo does not have or is unwilling to develop. The skillwall is too high or too much effort to climb.

Skillwalls help define the paywall debate for me in terms that are more tangiable. People will pay for stuff that they can’t do themselves. If you have the skills to do that ,they may pay you. Thinking about it as a skill issue works better for me than trying to assess a value proposition.

The web has become a place where people can do things – it enables. The successful sites are those that enable them to do things it would be hard to do otherwise. Things that would take new skills.

Skills Vs. experience or Skills and Experience

This is where it gets difficult for the industry and why I think recent discussions have been so interesting for me. Yes, the knowledge and experience is valuable but is it a skill? Is going to lots of council meetings a skill? Is knowing the PM’s press secretary a skill? Valuable, yes, but a skill? No. Being able to get that stuff online in an interesting way is.

Unless you can do one people won’t see the value of the other.

It’s easy to be dismissive of skills. They can be seen as functional, low level things. But skills enable. Get over the skillwall of data gathering on the web and you can add the value of your knowledge and experience.

Of course a skillwall is not an exclusive or all encompassing barrier. It’s a peculiar new obstacle/challenge that digital has thrown our way. But it’s also a powerful opportunity for journalists to exploit.

So where is your skillwall and what are you going to do to get over it?

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December 17 2009

14:00

Put your questions to Skillset about training bursaries for freelancers

Skillset, the media industry skills council, is answering questions about its new multi-platform training bursary for broadcast journalists today, as part of an online Q&A session.

You can put your questions to Alice Dudley, TV fund manager at Skillset, via the Guardian’s career section forum.

The multi-platform bursaries offer a grant of up to £800 for freelancers with an interest in working in broadcasting to spend on a range of 38 pre-selected, foundation-level courses, including an introductory course on social media and shooting video for the web.

To be eligible for a bursary, candidates must demonstrate either professional experience in the UK TV industry or the wider creative media industries with a view to working solely in TV or in broadcasting as part of a multimedia role.

There are 500 places available as part of the scheme.

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