I was well aware that Adrian Holovaty is a very big name in the Python world. He's one of the two original developers of Django (my personal favorite web-app development framework) about which he's written the book. He's since used it to power some very cool mashups; chicagocrime.org and everyblock.com, amongst others.
Adrian's talk was inspiring, both to the few techies in attendance and to most of the journalists, who made up the bulk of the audience. His central idea is that we should ensure that the information that the journalists have collected is stored in a structured way wherever possible. It's hard, skilled work gathering that valuable information, but full use is not being made of it. If it were stored in a structured fashion (rather than just in the text of a story; in a "blob" as Adrian put it) it could be made use of in many different ways.
Another interesting strand to Adrian's talk was the automated collection of data. The Washington Post runs a congressional voting record site, almost all the data for which is collected automatically. everyblock.com is another example of this kind of thing.
Explorability is crucial. Think how often you get stuck in the Wikipedia, 'cos there are just so many interesting links to follow. You go in to read one article, and find yourself with half a dozen tabs open all containing apparently unrelated corners of the 'pedia that you've stumbled upon, all of which you want to read. Don't you want your site to be like that?
Jemima Kiss has written up Adrian's talk better than I ever could here: Future of Journalism: Adrian Holovaty's vision for data-friendly journalists. Well, she is a pro.Posted to The Big Room by Simon Brunning at June 10, 2008 02:32 PM