Talk: Media Party 2015 in Buenos Aires

All the slides and links from my keynote speech

This morning I delivered a brief speech at Media Party 2015, the annual conference put on by the Buenos Aires chapter of Hacks/Hackers.

My message: Data journalists are raising their tech game. But to take advantage of our vibrant community and harness the potential for open-source collaboration we need to:

  • Identify the common tasks of newsroom data work where we’re reinventing wheels
  • Start or contribute to open-source projects that try to tackle them once and for all
  • Help spread underappreciated open-source skills like “dotadiw” design, software packaging, unit testing, continuous integration and documentation writing
  • Organize events, code sprints and conferences focused on pushing towards milestones

I take the position that the tedious and painstaking pipeline scripts journalists write to access, transform and load common public data sets like election results, crime reports and government spending are fertile ground for this approach. But I’m sure it could work in other components of our work as well.

As the California Civic Data Coalition has written before, this approach is what originally animated our open-source project to master California’s jumbled, dirty and difficult database tracking money in state politics.

And that’s why I’m here at Media Party asking everyone to participate in California Code Rush 2, a loosely organized code sprint where hackers can help us make a difference and newbies can learn how to use GitHub to contribute to a real open-source project.


Here is a list of links to materials featured in the slides.