Naked Data
Issue #262 || Ron Swanson Edition || 2021-11-29
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In the age of social media, presidents with Twitter accounts and anyone-can-make-a-documentary, why does journalism exist? In a word, sources. The journalist cares about multiple sources, whereas those other voices care about being the primary -- and usually only -- source. The journalist cares whether the sources are credible. The journalist will fact-check information provided from a source with more sources, until they are convinced the information is correct. If a source makes a claim about another source, the journalist will seek a right-of-reply, creating another source, with all the rigmarole associated to it. The journalist will step back and ask what each source's motives are, what agenda they're trying to push, and what their interest in the story is. This shit is hard, takes time, and is the antithesis of that "Share" button. That's why journalism exists, and that's why Marshall Allen's debunk of Plandemic is so good... it's really about what makes journalism, journalism.

# Don't Miss

Simulating our way out of Covid-19

Of the Coronavirus explorables, this is by far my favourite. On the one hand, it does what many of the other simulators do — gives you a curved graph that we’re all becoming very familiar with. But it takes this so much further, simulating the effects of increased hygiene, social distancing, track-and-trace, the effect of summer, and the anticipated vaccine. And it simulates the effects of these being implemented at different times — what happens if we stop lockdown, wait a while, then resume it? What happens if we lose immunity over time, like we do with the flu? These are pretty complex questions, and this explorable tries to answer them, without dumbing it down. It also gives the best picture of the future that anyone has had to offer. (JNY)
Get exploring…

Every aircrash this century visualised

Longing for the days we can return to zooting about the globe in our flying cigar cases? Maybe this will dampen your enthusiasm – Bavyajeet Singh and Vikrant Dewangan have put together a few charts showing just how frequent air crashes are and when – over the course of a flight – they have happened over the last 20 years. The eye-opener is minor incidents on landing – but the good news is that the ratio of fatal crashes to total traffic was demonstrably dropping pre-lockdown. (AO)
See the viz...

It was the salmon mousse. And the canapes. And the sausage rolls

Japanese broadcaster NHK has put together a little visual aid showing why large gatherings are a bad idea when there’s coronavirus around: at a mock buffet, one diner has fluorescent paint squirted on his palm. During the meal a blacklight is turned on to show just where that paint has spread… You’ll never touch a mini-burger again. (Via BoingBoing) (AO)

Plandumic

I’m surprised the documentary Plandemic has gained such a foothold in the mushy minds of the conspiracy believers: I’m quite a fan of conspiracy videos, and this one was a little dry and boring. (If you want A-Grade conspiracy theorist shit, dive into Beyoncé’s Illuminati links, or Madonna predicting the Coronavirus in her Eurovision 2020 performance.) If you haven’t seen Plandemic yet, good luck finding it — it’s buried underneath a million debunking videos and news stories about how terrible it is. (Oh wait, here it is.) The best rebuttal to Plandemic comes from ProPublica investigative journalist Marshall Allen. Allen speaks to both the filmmaker Mikki Willis and interviewee Judy Mikovits for their comments, because that’s what a journalist does. And that’s what’s missing in Plandemic — the other side of the story. This is a masterclass in journalism, and I highly recommend it to everyone, but especially for your weird uncle sharing Plandemic on your family WhatsApp group. (JNY)
Read it now…

# Happenings

csv,conf, virtually

If there’s a positive to the Coronavirus, it’s made conference attendance equitable. The most important open data conference on the annual calendar, csv,conf, went virtual this year, and apart from the difficulties in scheduling it at a decent time for everyone, it went pretty damn smoothly. I’m still getting through the talks I want(ed) to see, but if you’re looking for just one, Sisi Wei from OpenNews’ talk on data journalism (and unions) is a good bet. (And can I just give a shout-out to portrait-formatted slides — the format of the future!) (JNY)
See all the talks here…

# Nerds

Scraping soccer

It’s fair to say that R isn’t the language of choice for heavy duty web scraping. but ACDI/VOCA‘s Ryo Nakagawara has a neat tutorial for harvesting football stats which proves that it’s not just possible, but pretty straightforward to do with the rvest libraries. There’s some suggestions about how to scrape responsibly, too, without breaking the site you’re looking at. Want to automate your R-based scraper to capture updates? There’s a nice hack using your operating system’s scheduler here.
(AO)
Scrape like a (soccer) pro...

# Finally

Parks and recreashRon

This deep fake is the bastard child of Being John Malkovich and Parks and Recreation. And now that the opening credits have been created, it’s also the spin-off show you never realised you needed to see. Swanson, Swanson, Swanson, Swanson. (AO)
Watch it now...

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Who the hell is Jason Norwood-Young?

Journalist, developer, community builder, newsletter creator and international man of mystery, Jason was one of the first South Africans to really grasp the importance of data in the newsroom and has remained one step ahead of the trends in the field all the way. Even Naked Data was conceived before email newsletters were cool again. But what does that tell you about the measure of the man? Nothing, that's what. He hides the superman CV behind a truly mild-mannered and overly modest persona and is best described as "one of the nicest guys in the business". When he's angry, it is righteously so, and his anger always wears velvet mittens. The true signs of his genius include the ability to create multilingual puns on demand (witness the alternative Naked Data strap "Putting the heita in to data") and the fact that he offered me a job. (AO)

Who the hell is Adam Oxford?

Adam combines the best features of his Britishness — polite, sincere, witty, and pasty-white — with the best of South Africanness — enthusiastic, involved, socially conscious, underpaid and overly committed. He wears an incredible amount of hats , including the driving force behind Hacks/Hackers Jo’burg; an "innovation agent" with access-to-justice accelerator HiiL; an editor; a technology journalist; a data journalist; and a budding machine learning and AI expert. His latest gig with Naked Data is a natural progression for a gent that brings a sense of excited purpose to all of his myriad projects. (JNY)

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