Tag Archives: online-journalism

academic research blogging blogs camera phones ethics information design internet-addiction journalism listserv mailing list Map App of the Day Online News open access Photography print media RSS Writing

Map App of the Day: A genetic map of Europe

I’m a bit of a map geek and a big fan of using maps to convey information geographic and otherwise, so I’m starting a new series of posts – Map App of the Day.  I’ll highlight either a mapping web application or an application of mapping in information design that’s interesting, innovative, or just plain strange.

The New York Times had a brief article about a new study of genetic relationships between peoples in Europe.  The paper, by Lao et al., looked at genotype data from more than 2000 individuals spread throughout Europe.  The map on the right shows the normal geographic map of Europe, while the one on the left maps the genetic relationships between countries.

Here’s a link to a larger version on Current Biology’s web site.

The genetic map is a great example of why you should always consider mapping to illustrate data with a geographic component, and why you should always consider breaking the rules a bit  to get a good representation (most maps don’t show countries overlapping, for example).

This is also a great illustration of how permeable and impermanent national borders really are.  It would be interesting to see the same analysis done with distinctive populations like the Basque in Spain and the Sami in Finland added.

This also brings up with two non-mapping issues about journalism and research.  First off, the NYT article didn’t bother to actually link to the journal article, the researcher’s websites at their respective institutions, or any of the other places that readers would need to go to follow up on this paper or get more detailed information.  Why not?

Second, when I searched for Current Biology I was delighted to see that the journal publishes everything online, available via regular Google search, rather than hiding behind some expensive and proprietary publication database.  Open access is very cool.

Weekly listserv journal – Are bloggers important at all?

As part of a class project I’ve been reading the Online-News mailing list and responding to some of the issues and discussion brought up there.

More on blogs this week.  Online journalism seems to be obsessed with blogs anymore, which is annoying, because some really good IA discussions go on here otherwise.  Someone posted a study that provoked a ton of response:  “Perseus estimates there are 4.12 million blogs on eight hosting services.  But the research company estimated that 66% – 2.72 million – haven’t been updated in two months and that 1.09 million haven’t been updated since the first day. The average duration for an abandoned blog was 126 days, according to the survey of 3,634 blogs.”

http://www.mediapost.com/dtls_dsp_news.cfm?newsId=221430

None of this is too surprising, and some argued whether or not any bloggers are important at all.

Weekly listserv journal – RSS, ethics for online media, and camera phones

As part of a class project I’ve been reading the Online-News mailing list and responding to some of the issues and discussion brought up there.

I went ahead and looked up some info on RSS.  It seems pretty interesting-details can be found at http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/tech/rss.  RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication, a common format for content you want others to be able to pick up through their news sites, blogs, and web applications.  It’s a flavor of XML, which allows you to set up different channels and different items within the channel, with some other standard tags like creator and description.  It’s nice because it’s an open format, and it seems to be getting pretty big.  Like so many other things, there’s a set of dueling specifications for it, though some are backwards compatible with each other which is nice.  If more sites keep using it, I’m sure Microsoft will ad their own proprietary version to Office any day now.

One thing that’s interesting about this list is that people use it to announce papers, books, and projects.  For example, there’s “The current status and potential development of online news consumption: A structural approach” by An Nguyen at http://www.firstmonday.org/issues/issue8_9/nguyen/index.html, which makes the bland assertion that more news web sites are going up and more people are getting their news from the web.  That one was mentioned by someone who had read it; other times the writers themselves make announcements like Robert Berkman, who co-wrote Digital Dilemmas: Ethical Issues for Online Media Professionals.  This book likes kind of interesting, just because I’ve read a few journalism ethics books and they usually don’t have much on online journalism.  There are some important issues which are particularly pressing online as opposed to print–like reader privacy.

In other threads, some people have been discussing a poster called “JOE BIALEK” who seems to have appeared out of nowhere to write huge diatribes.  The name looked familiar to me and some of the other posters confirmed my suspicion-he’s a troll from Usenet and other forums who tries to start fights.  There was an interesting meta-thread about how these sorts of things happen.  Another thread was about the use of mobile phone cameras by reporters.  The first poster talked about how great it could be, but others quickly added there could be ethical concerns.  It might not be a great idea to let your reporter (who’s not a trained news photographer) take insensitive pictures of victims and post them without going through an editor first.