I first heard the word “Pressthink” from NYU journalism professor Jay Rosen, who began a blog of the same name. I’m not sure I ever heard Jay define the term “pressthink,” but I’ll try: Pressthink:  A set of shared, embedded and often unspoken notions that guide the actions of a group of people creating news media for public consumption. In otherwords, the “pressthink” of a publication and the people who work at it help those people decide what is good work, or bad work; what’s worth doing and not doing, whether coverage is fair or not.  (Writing that makes me think that pressthink is inherently moral; perhaps it is the moral philosophy of a news organization). When I saw FvckTheMedia,[…]

  [As always, click any image on this blog to make it bigger.] Since I want to write a book on data visualization for beginners, I wanted to know how many words I’d already written here at #D4R.  The book and the blog will be different, of course, but things like The Insanely Illustrated Guide To Your First Data-Driven Tile Mill Map, as well as others, are very likely to appear there.  So it’s good for me to know what I’ve got in terms of source material. These charts are created by a WordPress plugin called Word Stats. The count is good news.  If my book is 40-60,000 words long, I probably need 80K in source material.  But I’m well[…]

Typically, a finished product — whether it’s a simple one or something as sophisticated as “Snow Fall,” the New York Times’ immersive multimedia piece on an avalanche — doesn’t give many indications about how it was made, or what challenges the developer faced in creating it.  An apparently simple site might have taken hours while you might guess that another site took weeks when it took only hours because there were many available open-source tools to start out with that did a lot of the heavy lifting. Looking at the finished product — or a tutorial like my Insanely Illustrated Guide To Your First Data-Driven TileMill Map — doesn’t really give you insight into whether something took a little effort[…]

Just noticed that my recent post — an unsuccessful attempt to test Tabletop.js — messed up the home page here at D4R. Ha! One of the things I like about coding is that the tools we are using are powerful enough to mess things up a little. Mostly our own websites! 🙂  

*Deep breath.*  I live in Watertown.   My two children, my husband and I were not in our neighborhood as the events unfolded, but police conducted house to house searches down the street that I live on.   I am told that our house was briefly surrounded by police, probably because we were not there to open the door for them. I’m holding this entry until after the crisis is over, but I have to say, having data journalism done on the place that I live does not feel good at all.

Earlier today I noticed that Professor Lauren Klein linked to my simple “Texts From Hillary” data visualization which makes use of the New York Times API from her class website for  “STUDIES IN COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE: DATA.”  Here’s part of the class description: Think of your SAT score, all of your Facebook friends, or even your DNA—we live in what’s been called the “age of data,” and yet, the concept of data has a long and complex history, one that dates back to the Enlightenment and arguably even before. This course will thus examine ideas about data—and in particular, ideas about data visualization—through examples of charts and tables, both historical and contemporary, as well as through literature, philosophy, film, and[…]

I’m glad to announce that I will be presenting at the Allied Media Conference in Detroit, June 20-23, 2013.   I will be teaching a hands-on data visualization workshop for absolute beginners.  Participants will learn how to build compelling maps, charts, graphs, and data visualizations, and get personalized recommendations for next steps based on their interests and skills. I’m thrilled to say that my son, Rowan Williams, who is 11, will also be presenting at AMC this year.  He will be presenting a session in the “Kids Create The World” track entitled “Build Your Own Video Games With Scratch.”  Here he is earlier today working on a game called SharkChomp.

[UPDATED! This tutorial is newly updated as of 1/28/17 with new geocoding instructions and now works again!]  TileMill is a free-to-download application for Windows and the Mac that will let you build beautiful, data driven maps.  If the bland sameness of Google maps is giving you ennui, TileMill might be a good alternative for you.   There are many beautiful stylesheets to make TileMill maps visually distinct, and you can control the colors, line widths, and much more about your map using Carto, a CSS-derived language.  Here’s a beautiful map of Montreal using a watercolor-like stylesheet:   What follows is a detailed, highly-illustrated guide to creating your first map in TileMill.  We will be using real data from the Rhode[…]

Today I will have the fabulous experience of presenting at the National Coalition for Media Reform conference with Catherine Bracy, Cheryl Contee, and Kimberly Bryant on the topic of women in the tech field.   Below, I’ll be putting links to stuff we covered in the session.  If you wrote about this session, or have questions, please feel free to get in touch with me, either by leaving a comment below or finding me on Twitter, where I am @lisawilliams. A bit more about the speakers: Catherine Bracy runs Code for America’s international programs. Previously she directed Obama for America’s San Francisco-based technology field office. She also served as the administrative director at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society[…]

Easter eggs have a long and storied history in computer programming.  Clever coders hide “easter eggs” in programs or video games that appear when a user knows the secret combination of keys or actions, or in some cases, the easter eggs just appear on certain days (often holidays). If you cut and paste this code into the Processing IDE and hit “Play,” you’ll get a simple Easter greeting.  Can you change the colors?  How about changing the color of each egg using a for loop? I’m using the 2.0b7 version of the Processing IDE — I haven’t been able to get 2.0 Beta 8 working on my machine. That’s the first one on the download page, so to get to[…]