Posted on August 19, 2008
Delivering data: Which solution fits best?
I’m not a data expert like journalists Adrian Holovaty, Matt Waite and Derek Willis (to name only a few), but I deeply appreciate the work they do. I see a great potential for a better-informed public — if journalism organizations could make certain kinds of large data sets easier to understand.
I’ve been watching a variety of newspapers adopt Caspio for their online data presentation needs, and I’ve been listening to people in the inner circle of data-driven journalism talk about this. I’ve also listened to our students talk about how they used Caspio during their internships, or on their first job. I’ve gathered there are concerns that today some news organizations might be throwing bunches of data onto their Web sites, but without the context necessary to make the data comprehensible, or even useful (see Matt’s post about data ghettos).
Now Derek has written a brief, clear post (which even a dabbler such as I can understand) about why using Caspio might NOT be the ideal long-term strategy for a news organization’s data needs. The post could be useful in newsrooms where some editor (or publisher) is talking about how great Caspio is. It also might be helpful to journalism educators trying to teach the kids some basic Excel, when some wise guy in the class says, “In my internship, I learned to use Caspio. So I don’t need this.”
It’s also a post you should consider reading if you ever felt annoyed at Adrian’s answer to the question, “How can we get this kind of data on our Web site?” Adrian’s answer is: “Hire a programmer.” He’s not disrespecting the question (or the questioner) — he’s giving the answer that, in the long term, makes the most sense for a news organization.