From last night’s planning meeting we now have a provisional programme for 2017 and it is quite an ambitious one. What is great from our perspective is that there is a continuation of a number of themes that we have been looking at over the last year and a resurfacing of perennial ones. Highlights include the ‘making and doing’ workshops that have been developed as part of the Echo Chambers and ‘Post-Fact’ Politics programme and the Visualising Data workshops. There are a number of sector and technically specific events but one to watch out for is alternative ways of looking at the world which will be a day of walks, talks and explorations. As always there is a large dose of how data and technology impact on society and much more.
This is a provisional programme and we are looking for as much input as possible (Dates and sessions are subject to change). Please click on the Google Doc and add comments. We are looking for people who can contribute, sponsors, venues and partners.
A one-day workshop to develop new ways of tackling a ‘post-fact’ world
12th November 2016, 10.00 – 16.00. The Shed, Chester Street, Manchester The event is free, register here
We live in interesting times. Trust in, and respect for experts seems to be declining- Michael Gove recently said that we’ve ‘had enough of experts’. Increasingly online platforms quietly tailor what we encounter to fit our existing views- creating echo chambers out of our prejudices. At the same time political issues are becoming more and more complex as science and technology advances and society becomes more complicated.
These and other changes seem like a perfect storm for breeding a dystopian world in which the importance of evidence slowly slips out of view. But at the same time technology also offers hope for more enlightened debate- with the internet creating many new opportunities to engage, learn, and create. So we want to do something about these issues.
We want to draw together people with a wide range of experience and interest to try and unpick these issues and think what we can start developing ways of tackling these. Whether you’re an artist, an activist, a policy wonk, or simply someone interested in this area we want to hear your ideas.
We will be using an ‘unconference’ style, which means that people who come to the event will shape what we talk about. The aim will be to identify where the challenges lie and think of potential solutions, leading to a future event where we will develop these ideas further and- hopefully- start to get them built.
To start the discussion we will be creating a website and encourage people to submit short blogs related to the theme.
It’s a sad cliche but there’s a lot of truth in it. Journalism is traditionally considered a “humanities subject.” In fact, I’m convinced a lot of people go into journalism precisely because they think it means never having to do maths ever again.
But increasingly journalism is becoming a numbers game. It’s no longer just about searching for scarce information; journalists need the skills to filter and analyse the over-abundance of data that’s out there. Other industries are already using Big Data and journalism can’t afford to miss out on this vast source of stories and hard evidence.
We’re very lucky here in Manchester. We already have journalists doing great things with data which we’ll hear more about at ODM’s next event on 23rd September. Some of you may have met Data Journalists and wondered how they got to be that way. I’m guessing most of them didn’t learn how to do it at journalism school. They’re probably self-taught enthusiasts who saw the way newsrooms needed to move and made sure they acquired the necessary skills.
So that’s why I approached ODM to see if they could help bring together the worlds of data and journalism here in Manchester. I believe our city has the potential to become an important hub for developing the next generation of journalists who will be numerate and digitally literate as well as having all the core journalism skills we still need. We already have the building blocks – ODM itself, a sizable tech industry, no shortage of journalists and hundreds of journalism students who want to acquire skills that will make them employable after they leave university. The challenge is to get these elements working together, learn from the experts already working in our midst and make sure that filters through to the classrooms where journalists learn their skills.
It may also mean encouraging people who really like numbers to consider a career in journalism.
So with all this in mind, we’re launching a Manchester chapter of the global movement, HacksHackers which is all about creating networks of journalists (the hacks) and technologists (the hackers) who together can “rethink the future of news and information.” Manchester seems the perfect city to do this! We’ll be organising informal events ( including hack days) that bring together our city’s journalists, developers and designers. We’ll be announcing details of our first meet-up very soon so look out for #HHMcr and if you’d like to keep in the loop, do leave a message in the comments here.
Open Data is seen as a tremendous resource for the uncovering of stories that were once hard to detect. This month’s Open Data Manchester is a chance to explore the emerging field of data journalism.
Previously inaccessible datasets are now able to be scrutinised using off the shelf tools such as Open Refine and ScraperWiki. Some of this data is available as open data and some accessed using Freedom of Information requests and scraping.
From Open Data Journalism to data visualisations, the event will look at data journalism in a local, national and international context, the ways that it is used and the tools that can enable a journalist to uncover new insight from data.