I just heard about a fabulously interesting seminar at Infomedia on Computational Journalism – they’re planning on starting up a project about the use of software that gathers, computes and re-presents data in an editorial context, things like Washington Post’s Faces of the Fallen. I’m not sure something like this is necessarily best viewed as journalism actually. Yesterday I read about Boliga.no, a website that pulls in data from ads about houses that are for sale and shows you how long each house has been on the market, how much the suggested price has dropped and so on – details that are very useful to a potential house buyer, but that advertisers and real estate agents have no interest in showing us. I would call Boliga.no a useful web service, but if Boliga.no had been created as part of a newspaper site, would it be “computational journalism”?

Interestingly, since yesterday most of the journalistic articles written about Boliga.no have used it to write classically journalistic stories: Her stupte boligprisene 15 prosent i fjor (“Prices dropped 15% here last year”), Ligger 95 dager i snitt (“On average 95 days to sell”), Stavanger-bolig kuttet fra fem til tre millioner (“Stavanger home dropped from five to three million”). But that means journalists can use web services – well, mashups, I guess – like this, not that the mashup itself is journalism, right?

The main speaker is Olav Anders ÿvreb¯, who’s done a lot of interesting work on blogging and journalism among other things, and the respondents are central actors in the Norwegian sphere of these things too.

Sadly I’m teaching just when the seminar’s running. I’ve cheekily asked whether I can bring my students, but I’m expecting a no – 25-30 students just won’t fit into that seminar room or, probably, the seminar format. Ah well.

3 thoughts on “computational journalism

  1. Bente Kalsnes

    Great to see that you are back blogging, Jill! I missed your updates while you were on maternity leave – but I’m sure you had a good time. Interesting point about computational or computer assisted journalism. Mashup is, as you say, another word. Actually, this is about new tools, not a new kind of journalism. By combining different kinds of data in mashups, you end up with something new, but that does not necessarily mean that you write about it in a different way.
    The new thing about computer assisted journalism is that we can find new knowledge that used to be hidden in the databases.

    Wishes I could be at the seminar!

  2. Jill Walker Rettberg

    It’s really exciting how this kind of tool can really show us new information. Even the sleep-tracker I used for a few weeks with our baby was brilliant in that respect – and while neither a mashup nor journalism that was certainly a tool that visualised information that is not immediately accessible from the mass of data itself.

    I’m not convinced that journalism is the most useful lens to view these things through, but I can certainly see that the tools are highly relevant to journalism and that journalism is a way of looking at it.

    And it’s kind of fun to be back blogging again too – I guess I didn’t lose my enthusiasm for new media while I was on maternity leave 🙂

  3. Reshma T

    Hai,I want to take a seminar on ‘Computational Journalism’.Can you please help me?

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