Nerd Alert Issue 26: Gyroscope Creep



What we're reading this week

  Adam: I’ve been at the annual Investigative Reporters and Editors conference this week in Philadelphia and will be here through the weekend if anyone wants to meet up! Just shoot me an email:

  Ben: For all you data reporters out there: download a copy of the data behind The Guardian’s tally of police-involved deaths, The Counted.

  Dani: To get an excellent review of the data science fields, check out this article by Kurt Cagle. Cagle goes over the data science software and methodology trends for the past year and this year. Of particular interest is his distinguishing between the know-it-all data science “unicorns” that recruiters look for and reality, clarifying that different individuals with distinct experiences are needed for a successful data team.

  David: How could news developers benefit from the mindset of Glenn Jones, a T-shirt designer in Auckland, New Zealand? What if we shared preliminary design ideas on Twitter and with users? Sought more inspiration from the physical world? Another great Envato Made By installment.

  Kaeti: Email, the scourge of the otherwise decent human who just wants to get some work done. One thing that really helps? Templates and form responses, especially for saying no. I've modified Selena's form responses to my own needs, and in the process have reduced decision (and emotional) fatigue.

  Meredith: “Different sites, different countries, different rights: this is one of the many ways, citizenship, politics, and the internet are deeply and inextricably intertwined.” Traveling the web, you leave a data trail behind. Citizen Ex is publishing stories about digital citizenship and potential implications in six countries. They have also created a browser extension that creates a portrait of your own algorithmic citizenship with careful consideration to privacy. The project was created for the Web We Want conference.

  Ryan: Check out pass — a command line password manager written by Jason Donenfeld. Pass uses gpg encrypted files to store passwords. The files can be organized as you like, stored in a repository, shared across computers, and generally manipulated using standard Unix command line file management utilities.

  Will: As organizations optimize their sites for social media traffic, Josh Elman argues that while this "side door" traffic is important, "the truly valuable and beloved companies have built a real front door  —  one that converts to repeatable, direct visits."

  Bert: Do you know your DARPA robots?

This week's guest contributor: Cathy Deng, developer at DataMade, @cthydng

The most interesting thing I read this week was this piece on the history of dashboards. It's kind of heavy and long, but it grabbed my attention because it has historical/sociological perspectives that are pretty relevant to the whole Smart Cities/IoT movement.

It covers the relationships between dashboards and control, several government dashboard initiatives, and the dangers of framing cities as a bunch of components to optimize. I think folks should read this because it has a bunch of thoughtful and critical blurbs, and is a nice antidote to all the Thought Leadership on Big Data floating around. This piece on predictive policing also had some similar ideas.

Each week we ask someone from outside our team to contribute a link, tool or idea. Are you our next guest star? We think you might be. Send us a note at


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Work we admire by our journalism peers

How well can you hear audio quality? This fascinating quiz from NPR lets you test your ability.


Gather ye rosebuds

LISTEN: Janelle Monáe, all day every day. Start here.

COOK: Mini pretzel dogs sound adorable and probably taste good, too.

GIF: Go forth and weekend.