Thursday, March 14, 2013

Well that's ... encouraging

I suspect I'll be reading stuff.co.nz a little more in days to come. Not that I'm enthralled with their reporting mind. It's more of an ... organisational thing. They have apparently just hired a chap called Harkanwal “Kamal” Singh, who, to be honest, I wouldn't know from a bar of soap. The capacity in which he has been hired though is "Data Journalist".

 There is a large amount of data floating around our world at the moment. And even though much of it might be technically accessible, very little is actually accessible by the general public. Primarily because of the sheer volume. I'm reasonably conversant with how to navigate large amounts of data but I have neither the time, nor the background to be able to ask the right questions. There has been for a while now, a small but noticeable movement in some journalism circles towards extracting stories from the large amounts of data that is available. Data driven journalists have even been putting together guides to help get more journalists trawling through the data.

Needless to say, I'm a large fan of the idea. In years to come I hope it becomes a core part of journalism - extracting what we need to know from bodies of data that the rest of us have neither the time nor the skill to navigate. The fact that there are people paying attention to this sort of thing gives me hope. Just as I suspect that the little burst of disappointment that comes along almost every time I read a story in our media that use statistics in anyway comes from how badly it is currently done.

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