The Knight News Challenge is an ambitious undertaking to fund innovation in tools that can help digital journalism. I’m planning to submit a proposal around our Datapress data-blogging plugin for Wordpress and am seeking some early-adopter Wordpress bloggers who’d be interested in experimenting with our tools on their sites.
I believe that publishing rich interactive data visualizations is a powerful way to get your story across. If you’re the New York Times you can build your own Visualization Lab to create these sorts of presentations. But most of us have tighter budgets and less skill. I’m interested in tools that the rest of us—bloggers, not programmers, and with tight budgets—can use to share information.
We’ve created a Wordpress plugin called Datapress that lets you WYSIWYG author—not program—interactive visualizations of any data you like. You can drop maps, timelines, tables, charts, lists, thumbnail grids, and graphs into your article the same way you drop in an image. You can include widgets that let your readers sort and filter the data by the criteria you specify. The data you’re presenting can be in a file uploaded to your blog or can live in a google spreadsheet or a wiki where you can maintain it over time—your article will automatically incorporate your changes. All these pieces are incorporated in the standard Wordpress blog-post editor.
Datapress uses the Exhibit framework, which has been used to create several hundred interesting data visualizations on the web, including some by the San Francisco Chronicle, the Star Tribune, and the St. Petersburg Times. But with Datapress we’ve tried to make it even easier to author these views and incorporate them in your blogs. A couple of brave bloggers at Factory Portland and Quantnet have already used it successfully for music and finance.
I’m happy to help anyone try the tool, but if you’re a journalist with a wordpress blog I’d particularly love to sign you up as a Guinea pig for our Knight News Challenge application. If we’re funded, you get to be the one dictating the additional features you’ll need to make the tool work for you—and we might even listen!