Category: Data

New event: World News Media Hack Day, 13 April 2013 #dme13

This announcement comes via the excellent Scraperwiki (a start-up I worked with on a series of events in 2010/11). They have teamed up with WAN-IFRA to put on a hack day at Bloomberg on 13 April 2013.

footer_tractorIn April, global news media execs are gathering in London, to discuss the continuing emergence of digital media at WAN-IFRA’s Digital Media Europe 2013 (#DME13). To help launch and influence the digital-first agenda, ScraperWiki is teaming up with Wan IFRA to put together a hack day on Saturday 13th April.

We are looking for developers, information architects, journalists and data scientists, with have an open agenda covering three key themes:

  • UK and the EU: In or Out?
  • How do we tell stories without sticking to print-first assumptions?
  • Can we make advertising less annoying ?

We’ll start at 9 at Bloomberg’s offices at 39-45 Finsbury Square, EC2A 1HD. The plan is to hack all day, finishing code by 5 for prizes, beer and pizza from 6 onwards.

ScraperWiki will be looking into related datasets to have scraped, cleaned and shiny in advance (if you have any ideas for useful ‘sets, drop us a line), so there will be plenty of info available if you need raw data (and an API).

You can register here.

For more information, you can read more on ScraperWiki’s blog.

Skillset wants to hear from hacks & hackers

Cross-posted on the ScraperWiki blog.

Skillset, an industry body which supports skills and training for people and businesses, wants to hear from journalists and programmers who work in creative media industries.

Its 15 minute survey is a review of skills and training needs, which, it says, will “feed into future decisions on skills and training provision for employees and freelancers working in the sector”.

“This is the first time that Publishing has been included in the main Skillset research programme, which means that all forms of journalism will be covered,” says publishing sector manager, Suzanne Kavanagh.

“We’re really keen to ensure we get good coverage, particularly in light of the collaborations between hacks and hackers. It will help capture some of the more technical skills gaps and shortages that are emerging and will feed into future research, skills and training opportunities.”

The survey,, is open until the 30 September. All contributions are anonymous, non-attributable and comply with data protection legislation. Results will be published towards the end of autumn. Help with accessing the survey can be found at this link.

Calling all hacks and hackers – upcoming events

I’ve been working with the data mining site Scraperwiki to set up Hacks and Hacker Hack days around the UK. The idea is to get programmers, designers, journalists and bloggers into the same room for one day, to mine data for quick turnaround projects that could be polished into journalistic stories and features. Best of all, with the help of kindly sponsors, these events are *free*, with food, beer and prizes provided for the best teams of the day.

So far, we’ve announced:

We are also discussing and considering a number of other locations, including: Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh (or Glasgow), Leeds, Manchester, London, Belfast and Dublin. And if I have my way, one on the south coast somewhere….

If you are based in any of these places and have venue or sponsor suggestions, please get in touch: judith [at]

For more information on Scraperwiki and what you can do with it, please have a look at Paul Bradshaw’s blog: his Online Journalism MA students recently had a play…

Data protection issues with the Conservatives’ iPhone app for canvassing?

iPhone app developer Dave Addey has been investigating the Conservatives’ iPhone app used for canvassing: its general election app asks users to pass on their friends’ details, using data extracted from the users’ iPhone address books, in addition to noting their voting intention.

Calling the hypothetical app user ‘Peter’, and calling his hypothetical unwitting friend, ‘Bob’, Dave writes:

When I first saw this process, I thought it seemed a little odd. Normally, when you give out your personal details, it’s made clear how these details will be used, with a privacy policy and an opportunity to say “yes, I agree”. I couldn’t see any of this in the Conservative Party app. And in fact, it’s not Peter’s details being submitted – it’s Bob’s. Who doesn’t get a say in it at all.

So Dave has delved into the Data Protection Act and made some enquiries, to see if the Tories have slipped up. As we know from the Ashes to Ashes copyright saga, political parties sometimes need reminding of good old-fashioned law in the rush to build campaign buzz.

Dave concludes (quoted directly from his blog):

  • It’s possible that personal data is being stored or processed by the Conservative Party, without them having any contact with the person whose data is being processed
  • There is no verification that the data is provided with the consent of the person that data refers to
  • The app doesn’t give a clear indication of what the data will be used for
  • Neither the app nor its supporting web sites contain a privacy notice describing how the data may be stored and used

Now Dave’s blog is lively with commenters far more acquainted with the DPA and political canvassing procedure than me, so best to read the ongoing debate for yourself over there.

Now, it could be coincidence, but there’s been an interesting development…

The iPhone app info (The Conservative Party General Election App) has been updated with an additional disclaimer (since Dave published his post, he says). It now reads:

When using the “Call a Friend” feature, please confirm you have the consent of the friend or relative whose details you are passing onto us. The Conservative Party will inform your friend or relative how it obtained his or her details. Information obtained by the Conservative Party from this App will not be used for electronic mailing purposes.

So, what about the people who already downloaded the app? Will they see this info?

Dave also remarks, in an update to his post, “while this text mentions what the information won’t be used for, it still doesn’t say what it will be used for. Would be good to know.”