Posts tagged with ‘Open Source’

Open Journalism on GitHub
Time to explore.
Image: Screenshot, Open Journalism Showcase on GitHub.
H/T: ONA Issues. 

Open Journalism on GitHub

Time to explore.

Image: Screenshot, Open Journalism Showcase on GitHub.

H/T: ONA Issues

Kickstarting the Death Star →

Via Kickstarter:

In November 2012 the people asked for a death star. The government said NO!

In light of continuing threats we should build it ourselves.

Initial design (not for kids)Initial design (not for kids)

Goal

£20,000,000 for more detailed plans and enough chicken wire to protect reactor exhaust ports.

Stretch Goal

£543,000,000,000,000,00 ($850,000,000,000,000,000) to secure full funding for actual construction.

Open Source

To keep costs lower the entire project will use open source hardware and software.

FJP: Make it so.

Mozilla Releases Popcorn Maker

Via Journalism.co.uk:

Mozilla has released Popcorn Maker 1.0, which allows journalists to create web-native video that includes real-time tweets, Google maps, images and more.

Popcorn Maker allows users to drag and drop video from YouTube or Vimeo or audio from SoundCloud and then add other other elements such as images, tweets and links to content on the web. For example, tweets that include a hashtag can be added and will be automatically updated with new tweets containing that hashtag after the video is published.

For those with coding skills, there is a Javascript library called Popcorn.js, which was launched at last year’s MozFest.

After watching the videos and poking around a bit, Popcorn Maker feels like Storify but with a video wrapper.

Visit the site to how it’s been used. For example, this story on New York’s Stop and Frisk laws; this neighborhood tour that mashes up Google Maps and Wikipedia; or this remix of a TED Talk. 

Source
The Knight-Mozilla OpenNews project has launched Source, a repository of “journalism code” and articles about it.
For example, there’s currently Ruby client for interacting with the New York Times’ campaign finance API and a Guardian Javascript library to manage data behind client-side visualizations.
As OpenNews lead Daniel Sinker describes it on his Tumblr:

Through feature articles that dig into the specifics of the code and the motivations that behind it, through an index to open code repositories produced by the journo-code community, and an index to that community itself, Source connects the many lines of code that make up journalism today with the people that write them. We’ve built relationships between code, people, and organizations deep into the data models of Source because we know that code is always a reflection of the individuals that create it and that those individuals combine to create a thriving community.

Source: Journalism code and the people who make it.

Source

The Knight-Mozilla OpenNews project has launched Source, a repository of “journalism code” and articles about it.

For example, there’s currently Ruby client for interacting with the New York Times’ campaign finance API and a Guardian Javascript library to manage data behind client-side visualizations.

As OpenNews lead Daniel Sinker describes it on his Tumblr:

Through feature articles that dig into the specifics of the code and the motivations that behind it, through an index to open code repositories produced by the journo-code community, and an index to that community itself, Source connects the many lines of code that make up journalism today with the people that write them. We’ve built relationships between code, people, and organizations deep into the data models of Source because we know that code is always a reflection of the individuals that create it and that those individuals combine to create a thriving community.

Source: Journalism code and the people who make it.

2012 Presidential Campaign Stops
A Washington Post infographic shows where the Obama and Romney campaigns have visited since June.
You can filter by candidate, vice presidential candidate, all four wives, and even see which events were fundraisers. Select a state and the map updates to show you where in it a candidate (or surrogate) visited.
Unless, of course, you’re Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, Kentucky, Alaska or Hawaii. Neither campaign seems to like you.
Tech Notes: The map is made with Leaflet, an Open Source JavaScrip library for creating interactive maps, and uses map data from OpenStreetMap, the crowdsourced collaborative mapping project.
Image: Screenshot, Presidential Campaign Stops - Who’s Going Where, via the Washington Post. Select to embiggen.
H/T: Flowing Data.

2012 Presidential Campaign Stops

A Washington Post infographic shows where the Obama and Romney campaigns have visited since June.

You can filter by candidate, vice presidential candidate, all four wives, and even see which events were fundraisers. Select a state and the map updates to show you where in it a candidate (or surrogate) visited.

Unless, of course, you’re Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, Kentucky, Alaska or Hawaii. Neither campaign seems to like you.

Tech Notes: The map is made with Leaflet, an Open Source JavaScrip library for creating interactive maps, and uses map data from OpenStreetMap, the crowdsourced collaborative mapping project.

Image: Screenshot, Presidential Campaign Stops - Who’s Going Where, via the Washington Post. Select to embiggen.

H/T: Flowing Data.

fjp-latinamerica:

LibreBus to roam South America
The LibreBus Project was born last year in Central America aiming to foster a new dialogue among open-software communities scattered throughout the region, in order for them to share relevant experiences and amplify their networks. The touring bus roamed through Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, making constant stops to also chat with locals about open software and freedom of expression, among other topics. Here is a documentary video of the whole journey.
Now, the second edition of the project is about to take place in South America: 5000 miles in 5 weeks, following a route that starts in southern Chile and then goes on to Argentina, Uruguay, and Paraguay. This time, the producers revamped the core concepts of the project and the one on Freedom of Expression specifically caught our attention:

The massive incorporation of ICTs into civic life has permitted an expansion and enhancement of the possibilities for people to turn themselves into producers and broadcasters of information. At this moment, we exercise our freedom of expression across multiple virtual media, such as blogs and social networking sites, and we also use numerous virtual tools to coordinate and organize plans and strategies for activism. Nonetheless, we can see that our freedom of expression on the internet is constantly under threat, whether from corporate interests which want to interfere with network neutrality, or various laws which –under the pretext of cybersecurity, or crackdowns on piracy or pedophilia– seek to exercise control and record every citizen’s activities on the network. 

Bonus: You can follow all day-to-day activities of @librebus on Twitter.
Image: LibreBus 2012 logo, via LibreBus.

FJP: Love this project. — Michael

fjp-latinamerica:

LibreBus to roam South America

The LibreBus Project was born last year in Central America aiming to foster a new dialogue among open-software communities scattered throughout the region, in order for them to share relevant experiences and amplify their networks. The touring bus roamed through Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, making constant stops to also chat with locals about open software and freedom of expression, among other topics. Here is a documentary video of the whole journey.

Now, the second edition of the project is about to take place in South America: 5000 miles in 5 weeks, following a route that starts in southern Chile and then goes on to Argentina, Uruguay, and Paraguay. This time, the producers revamped the core concepts of the project and the one on Freedom of Expression specifically caught our attention:

The massive incorporation of ICTs into civic life has permitted an expansion and enhancement of the possibilities for people to turn themselves into producers and broadcasters of information. At this moment, we exercise our freedom of expression across multiple virtual media, such as blogs and social networking sites, and we also use numerous virtual tools to coordinate and organize plans and strategies for activism. Nonetheless, we can see that our freedom of expression on the internet is constantly under threat, whether from corporate interests which want to interfere with network neutrality, or various laws which –under the pretext of cybersecurity, or crackdowns on piracy or pedophilia– seek to exercise control and record every citizen’s activities on the network. 

Bonus: You can follow all day-to-day activities of @librebus on Twitter.

Image: LibreBus 2012 logo, via LibreBus.

FJP: Love this project. — Michael

Taking Wikipedia’s Pulse, Musically

What do changes to Wikipedia sound like? Well, if you track all edits — which are currently pushing about 400 per minute — and mapped them to Open Sound Control, Pure Data and wikibeat, you come out with some modernist beats.

Watch the above screencast by wikibeat creator Dan Chudnov as he does just this. The audio kicks in about a minute into the video.

As Chudnov describes it, “wikibeat sonifies changes to wikipedia as they happen. it uses Ed Summers’ wikipulse, which monitors changes to each language-specific wikipedia and displays their rates of change as gauges, and creates a series of audible beats based on these change rates. it does this by sending the change rate information to a Pure Data application over OSC.”

Read through for links to source code to try it on your own.

H/T: Dario Taraborelli, Senior Research Analyst at the Wikimedia Foundation who we interviewed in January (podcast).

Open Source Culture and the Newsroom

For more than a decade there’ve been a number of relatively high profile efforts to integrate Open Source techniques into the editorial process. Most common has been crowdsourcing.

For example, in 2007, Wired collaborated on an initiative called Assignment Zero, an effort to create “pro-am journalism” via crowdsourcing; and the Guardian has often been praised for opening up documents for the public to sift through in support of the journalism taking place within the newsroom.

Even back in 1999 Jane’s Intelligence Review sought to crowdsource by asking Slashdot readers for feedback on a cyberterrorism article they were planning to publish. Eventually, they rewrote their story based on comments they received from the Slashdot community.

At the time, Salon’s Andrew Leonard wrote:

Just as open source programmers would critique a beta release of software filled with bugs, the Slashdot readers panned the first release of Jane’s journalistic offering — and the upgrade, apparently, will be quick to follow.

Open-source pragmatists believe that better software arises from the scrutiny inherent in the collaborative process. Will better journalism ensue if more reporters and editors beta test their own work? Hard to say…

While the above are interesting projects what they have in common is that they focus on the front end: what we see, what we can touch, what we read.

There’s nothing necessarily wrong with that except for the fact that too many commentators mistake an Open Source technique for something being Open Source in and of itself. The limitation in that interpretation is thinking of the story as journalism in its entirety.

Words here thus become the journalist’s code. Words become the fungible unit that is open to some type of crowdsourced manipulation and examination. The story as the central unit where “bugs” can be identified and eradicated. The story as the central unit upon which additional eyes and ears — provided by the crowd — can create more texture, more depth, a better “front end”.

Which is fine insofar as this is the focus but I’d argue that this focus is limited. Journalism is much more than the produced story. Or, flipped another way, the produced story is merely an output of a network, a system, and an organization where an historical culture and process and vision have come together.

Simply, and I don’t mean to detract from this unit — this story — but it is a simply a cosmetic presentation of the organization as a whole. To open source journalism you have to dig into deeper layers. You have to expose the code of the entire apparatus that creates it. Remaining at the presentation layer — that is, at the story — is no different than saying this or that piece of software is Open Source because you can skin it. It’s saying Microsoft Office is Open Source because you can make a PowerPoint or a Word document look pretty and edit the content within them.

And obviously we know that that suite of tools isn’t open.

Thinking this way I can say that the above projects are crowdsourced, and that this is a good thing in and of itself.

But journalism has always been about crowdsourcing. It’s called reporting. The Internet just opened up a larger audience to query and participate. And this too is a good thing. The more available voices, the more diverse voices, the more knowledgeable voices available to inform a story the better.

But listen to what Gabriella has to say about a functioning Open Source project and the culture behind it. In this case Debian, a free and Open Source operating system. Here are a few of the key components she identifies as essential to its success; and while it’s a bit apples and robots I think with enough imagination you might see how they might be applied to a news organization:

  • Transparency: How does the organization or project operate; who or what’s behind it; what can I as an outside contributor get my hands on when I want to start to hack.
  • Ethical, Legal and Philosophical Values: This isn’t just knowing what an organization stands for, it’s a contributor being able to argue for, integrate and advocate those values.
  • Technical Baselines: No, not just anyone can contribute, they must have proven skills and expertise in a given field. If I stepped into Gabriella’s Debian example, I’d be politely asked to leave. I don’t have those skills.
  • Mentorship: This can come from core team members, or those who have been involved in a project long enough that they are able to guide those that are new, or less skilled, in each of the above.
  • Governance Structure: How are decisions made and who has final say so that the project evolves/moves forward? Is it a person, a committee, the entire community, or some other structure?
  • Committed Community: A successful project needs people coming back again and again ready continue contributing their time and their skills.
  • Festive Celebration and Cultural Enchantment: There should always be a party, somewhere. This is important.

Open Source techniques are increasingly making their way into newsrooms. It’s not necessarily a panacea — or magic pixie dust as Jamie Zawinski once described — but the promise and hope of it all is intriguing.

Can we have a radically Open Sourced news operation? Perhaps and I’d like to see it tried. But before getting there we need to understand what it is we’re actually talking about in its entirety and not confuse ourselves with incremental experiments that distract our understanding on the side.

Additional videos with Gabriella can be watched here.

Low Cost, No Cost and Open Source Software for Digital Storytellers

Investigative Reporters and Editors has a nice rundown of free production tools for journalists. These include old standbys such as Gimp for images and graphics, Audacity for audio editing and Open Movie Editor for video editing.

IRE also includes data tools such as Google’s Fusion Table’s and Tableau Software’s Tableau Public.

Multimedia production can get pretty pricey pretty quickly, of course. There’s a lot of gear and software needed so knowing what alternatives are out there is important.

If money’s tight, a great place to start is Open Source Alternatives. For example, if you need Adobe’s Photoshop but don’t have (or want to spend) the $699 to buy the standalone version, OSA lists Gimp and Krita among others as alternatives.

There are Web-based alternatives out there as well. For example, Aviary has a swiss army knife of audio and image editing applications that sit in the browser. In 2010, Google purchased the Web-based image editor Picnik and now you can crop, enhance and perform other basic edits in Picasa/Google+.

Other important browser-based tools are plugins and add-ons. For example, if you’re working with large files you’ll eventually need to get them somewhere which you’ll often do via FTP (although I come across more and more people who are using shared folders in Dropbox). Use Firefox? Try FireFTP. Chrome more your flavor? Try FileZilla. Want a desktop FTP client instead? Try Cyberduck.

Sometimes though, what’s already on your computer can bring you where you need to go. For example — and using a Mac because that’s what I have and know — iMovie, Garage Band and iPhoto all come pre-installed and are perfectly fine for editing video interviews, creating radio pieces and organizing and lightly editing your photos. Are they as robust as Final Cut, Pro Tools and some sort of Adobe Bridge/Photoshop amalgam? No, but they’re tools immediately available to you once you actually have the computer. Besides, the tools we need don’t always have to be the latest and greatest model of something.

There are good reasons to have the software that have become standard across the industry. This is especially true when collaborating with others. But when money’s tight, or you just want to try things out before diving deeper into a particular format, play with what’s low cost or free before making the plunge.

Besides, it’s the end result that matters. Once you publish your amazing audio, video or interactive piece, your appreciative audience isn’t going to care what you used to get there.

On Tracking Anonymous

Here’s your weekly Gabriella Coleman (well, third in a series of four), whose thoughts on WikiLeaks and open source journalism you should check out if you haven’t yet.

She studies hackers from an anthropological perspective and here, explains how she finds them and tracks them. Specifically, she discusses what she’s learned about the group Anonymous, how they organize themselves and what hacking culture is like. Very interesting.

Gabriella Coleman is Assistant Professor and Wolfe Chair in Scientific and Technological Literacy at McGill University.

Chrome overtakes Internet Explorer as the Web’s most popular browser
Filed under that didn’t take long. Chrome’s first public, stable release was in December 2008. The first version of Internet Explorer, 1995.
In 2002-2003, IE controlled about 95% of the browser market.
More info via The Next Web.
Image via StatCounter.

Chrome overtakes Internet Explorer as the Web’s most popular browser

Filed under that didn’t take long. Chrome’s first public, stable release was in December 2008. The first version of Internet Explorer, 1995.

In 2002-2003, IE controlled about 95% of the browser market.

More info via The Next Web.

Image via StatCounter.

MySQL is the persistent storage technology behind most Twitter data: the interest graph, timelines, user data and the Tweets themselves. Since we believe in sharing knowledge and that open source software facilitates innovation, we have decided to open source our MySQL work on GitHub under the BSD New license.

The Twitter Engineering Blog. MySQL at Twitter.

The Twitter MySQL repo on GitHub.

Wikipedia: Goodbye Google Maps, Hello Open Street Maps →

Wikipedia joins a growing list of high profile organizations leaving Google Maps and moving to the open source Open Street Maps. The move comes after Google announced in March that they would begin charging Web sites that receive more than 25,000 requests per month for use of their maps.

Via Wikipedia:

Previous versions of our application used Google Maps for the nearby view. This has now been replaced with OpenStreetMap - an open and free source of Map Data that has been referred to as ‘Wikipedia for Maps.’ This closely aligns with our goal of making knowledge available in a free and open manner to everyone. This also means we no longer have to use proprietary Google APIs in our code, which helps it run on the millions of cheap Android handsets that are purely open source and do not have the proprietary Google applications.

OpenStreetMap is used in both iOS and Android, thanks to the amazing Leaflet.js library. We are currently using Mapquest’s map tiles for our application, but plan on switching to our own tile servers in the near future.

Also, via Techspot, a look at mapping economics:

In March, Google announced it would be charging high-volume users for its once gratis Google Maps service. Developer accounts which pull in fewer than 25,000 requests per month are not considered high-volume and thus have remained free. However, for accounts that exceed 25,000 views, developers must pay between $4 to $10 for every additional 1,000 views generated. For popular websites and apps that rely on Google Maps APIs, this can add up pretty quickly…

…Although some may be quick to call out Google for its decision to charge a premium, Google Maps has really been the only mapping service to offer its product to everyone without cost. Traditionally, companies like NavTeq and TeleNav have always licensed their map data to third parties. It costs a lot of money to put together accurate maps and Google took some risk offering theirs free of charge. As a result, Google Maps has become the go-to place for many companies and users alike. In fact, comScore found that over 71% of Americans had used Google Maps in February.

Data in the Newsroom
The Data Journalism Handbook is a free, open sourced reference book that’s being released at the end of April at the International Journalism Festival in Italy.
If you want to be alerted when the book is released you can do so here.
This poster was created by Lulu Pinney based on illustrations in the book by Kate Hudson.
H/T: Jonathan Gray.

Data in the Newsroom

The Data Journalism Handbook is a free, open sourced reference book that’s being released at the end of April at the International Journalism Festival in Italy.

If you want to be alerted when the book is released you can do so here.

This poster was created by Lulu Pinney based on illustrations in the book by Kate Hudson.

H/T: Jonathan Gray.