@andymboyle not every piece of journalism software is a public-facing news app built on deadline.
— jonathanstray (@jonathanstray) December 21, 2011
Introduction to open-source GIS tools for journalists: GIS software is expensive, right? Wait, there are open source GIS tools now? And Matt Wynn wrote up a few for Poynter? Let me mash my mouse on that link…
Fancy open source timelines from spreadsheets: TimelineSetter: Easy Timelines From Spreadsheets, Now Open to All. It’s Ruby and it’s from ProPublica and it’s elegant.
News to me: There’s a growing series of side businesses attached to Instagram. This reminds me of early Flickr API toys, and naturally, of the Twitter developer community. Here’s the link that’s been circulating this week: 10 Totally New Ways to Play with Instagram.
Over at the Knight News Challenge blog, I’ve contributed a short list of tips on dealing with developers and choosing a platform for your project:
“3. Hire human beings, not a programming language or Web framework. Unless you’re doing the programming yourself, stay focused on your end goal and steer clear of mandating how the humans you hire do the job. Don’t look over the designer’s shoulder and worry about which shade of eggshell white to paint the walls until you have something really great to hang on them. Like content, for instance.”
You are getting your Knight News Challenge application ready, right? The deadline is October 15. Get on it.
ReportingOn 2.0 is live and ready for your questions. And answers.
It’s still the backchannel for your beat, but it’s an absolute re-imagining of the network.
For those of you who haven’t been keeping score, ReportingOn is a project funded by the Knight News Challenge, and it’s a place for journalists of all stripes to find peers with experience dealing with a particular topic, story, or source.
(You can catch up with our progress reports from year one and related concepts at the PBS Idea Lab blog.)
The first time out, I built it to be quite Twitter-esque in the hopes that journalists would use it like Twitter, asking questions of their followers and sharing ideas about stories they were working on.
That didn’t happen organically, or if it was going to, it was going to take years. So, with the help of a professional development and design team, we’ve rebuilt the site from the ground up, framed around the act of asking and answering questions.
There’s no 140-character limit, but what you will find are lots of basic features that make sense in this sort of social network.
You can ‘watch’ users, beats, or a particular question, viewing everything in an activity feed that brings you the latest questions and answers from the journalists, topics, and particular issues you’re interested in.
I think you’ll like it.
And, as the grant year for ReportingOn comes to a close, we’re also making the source code for ReportingOn available here under the GNU General Public License (GPL) version 3. You can use that to build your own backchannel question and answer tool for the journalists in your news organization, or even let your readers ask and answer questions.
I want to repeat that and extend it a bit…
Here are four things that could happen next:
What else could you do with ReportingOn? Give it a shot, and let us know.
What’s next for 2.01 and beyond? We’ll let the dust settle over the next few days and figure out which additional features we want to build first, then we’ll take a look at our budget and consider the options. Feel free to check out feedback.reportingon.com to get an idea of where we might go next, and add your own ideas, too!
Thanks to everyone who helped get this launch out the door on time and on budget, especially the Lion Burger development and design team, all the friends and colleagues who gave me their input over the last year, those of you that answered my last-minute call for beta testers, and the Knight Foundation staff for supporting the first year of ReportingOn.
So… Any questions?
My Knight News Challenge-funded project to connect journalists on the same topical beat with their peers launched on October 1. I continued development work on it through the month of October, and then was completely tackled by a pack of wild bears known as my day job, life at home, and a need for some brief moments of sanity in between the rest.
Head over to IdeaLab to read about where my head’s at right now when it comes to this project, and what I’m planning to do next. Feel free to beat me up about it over there.