June Book Club: Scraping For Journalists

Our June News Nerd Book Club selection is Scraping for Journalists by Paul Bradshaw.

From the description on Leanpub:

Scraping for Journalists introduces you to a range of scraping techniques - from very simple scraping techniques which are no more complicated than a spreadsheet formula, to more complex challenges such as scraping databases or hundreds of documents. At every stage you'll see results - but you'll also be building towards more ambitious and powerful tools.

You’ll be scraping within 5 minutes of reading the first chapter - but more importantly you'll be learning key principles and techniques for dealing with scraping problems.

Unlike general books about programming languages, everything in this book has a direct application for journalism, and each principle of programming is related to their application in scraping for newsgathering. And unlike standalone guides and blog posts that cover particular tools or techniques, this book aims to give you skills that you can apply in new situations and with new tools.

Scraping for Journalists: How to grab information from hundreds of sources, put it in data you can interrogate - and still hit deadlines. By Paul Bradshaw.

We'll be meeting via Zoom video call at 1 p.m. Eastern on Wednesday, June 14.

Here's the call link or you can join by phone at (408) 638-0968, meeting ID: 709 684 655.

We'll also be taking notes in this etherpad.

Hope to see you then!

(We missed April. Sorry 'bout that – we've been busy!)


February Book Club Selection: The Journalist and the Murderer

the-journalist-and-the-murderer-1Our February News Nerd Book Club selection is The Journalist and the Murderer by Janet Malcolm.

From the description on Amazon:

A seminal work and examination of the psychopathology of journalism. Using a strange and unprecedented lawsuit as her larger-than-life example — the lawsuit of Jeffrey MacDonald, a convicted murderer, against Joe McGinniss, the author of Fatal Vision, a book about the crime — she delves into the always uneasy, sometimes tragic relationship that exists between journalist and subject. In Malcolm's view, neither journalist nor subject can avoid the moral impasse that is built into the journalistic situation. When the text first appeared, as a two-part article in The New Yorker, its thesis seemed so radical and its irony so pitiless that journalists across the country reacted as if stung.

The referenced New Yorker article can be found here.

We'll be meeting via Zoom video call at 1 pm ET on Wednesday, February 15.

Here's the call link or you can join by phone at (408) 638-0968, meeting ID: 260 181 890.

Hope to see you in a few weeks!

December News Nerd Book Club Selection: Notes On The Synthesis Of Form

41po1bthfjl-_sx302_bo1204203200_First, a quick bit of housekeeping:

We've decided to make a change to the schedule for the News Nerd Book Club meetings and hold them every other month (instead of every month). They will still be on the second Wednesday of the month from 1 - 2 pm ET. We just felt that it would easier on everyone and also give us a little more flexibility in choosing longer books if we all had a little more time to read and prepare.

So, with that out of the way, the book we'll be discussing at our next meeting (on December 14) will be Christopher Alexander's Notes on the Synthesis of Form.

Here's a link for the video chat (using zoom.us) where you can join us on Dec. 14 at 1 ET.

Happy reading!

October Book Club Selection: Design For Real Life

Our October News Nerd Book Club selection is Design For Real Life by Sara Wachter-Boettcher and Eric Meyer.

From the description on the book's website:

Join Sara Wachter-Boettcher and Eric Meyer as they turn examples from more than a dozen sites and services into a set of principles you can apply right now. Whether you’re a designer, developer, content strategist, or anyone who creates user experiences, you’ll gain the practical knowledge to test where your designs might fail (before you ship!), vet new features or interactions against more realistic scenarios, and build a business case for making decisions through a lens of kindness. You can’t know every user, but you can develop inclusive practices that support a wider range of people. This book will show you how.

We'll be meeting via Zoom video call at 1 pm ET on Wednesday, October 12.

Here's the call link or you can join by phone at  (408) 638-0968; Meeting ID: 303 159 956.

Hope to see in a few weeks!

September’s Book Club Selection: Spreadable Media – Creating Value and Meaning in a Networked Culture


We hope you'll join us for our next News Nerd Book Club hangout on Wednesday, September 14th at 1pm ET.

This month we'll be reading Spreadable Media: Creating Value and Meaning in a Networked Culture by Henry Jenkins, Sam Ford, and Joshua Green.

From the book overview at NYU Press:

Spreadable Media maps fundamental changes taking place in our contemporary media environment, a space where corporations no longer tightly control media distribution and many of us are directly involved in the circulation of content. It contrasts “stickiness”—aggregating attention in centralized places—with “spreadability”—dispersing content widely through both formal and informal networks, some approved, many unauthorized. Stickiness has been the measure of success in the broadcast era (and has been carried over to the online world), but “spreadability” describes the ways content travels through social media.

Here's the event invitation and ZOOM video chat link if you'd like to join us.

Hope to see you on September 14th. Happy reading!

July’s Bookclub Selection: Spam – A Shadow History of the Internet

We're all much too intimately acquainted with spam, which has become a fact of daily life in the digital age. In fact the vast majority of email sent every day is spam. We don't see most of it because our mail services and sysadmins do such a heroic job of filtering it before it hits our inbox.

For the July 13, 2016 (1 to 2 pm Eastern) Book Club we'll be discussing Finn Brunton's excellent cultural history, Spam: A Shadow History of the Internet. (Available on Amazon here.)

From the book overview at MIT Press:

This is a book about what spam is, how it works, and what it means. Brunton provides a cultural history that stretches from pranks on early computer networks to the construction of a global criminal infrastructure. The history of spam, Brunton shows us, is a shadow history of the Internet itself, with spam emerging as the mirror image of the online communities it targets. Brunton traces spam through three epochs: the 1970s to 1995, and the early, noncommercial computer networks that became the Internet; 1995 to 2003, with the dot-com boom, the rise of spam’s entrepreneurs, and the first efforts at regulating spam; and 2003 to the present, with the war of algorithms—spam versus anti-spam. Spam shows us how technologies, from email to search engines, are transformed by unintended consequences and adaptations, and how online communities develop and invent governance for themselves.

Here's the event invitation and hangout link if you'd like to RSVP.

Hope to see you on July 13th. Happy reading!

May’s Book Club Selection: The Shallows by Nicholas Carr

We hope you'll join us for our next News Nerd Book Club hangout on Wednesday, May 11th at 1pm ET.

This month we'll be reading The Shallows:  What the Internet is doing to our brains by Nicholas Carr.

From the author’s website:

Is Google making us stupid? When Nicholas Carr posed that question in a celebrated Atlantic essay, he tapped into a well of anxiety about how the Internet is changing us. He also crystallized one of the most important debates of our time: As we enjoy the Internet’s bounties, are we sacrificing our ability to read and think deeply?

With The Shallows, a finalist for the 2011 Pulitzer Prize in non-fiction and a New York Times best seller, Carr expands his argument into the most compelling exploration of the net’s intellectual and cultural consequences yet published.

Here's the event invitation and hangout link if you'd like to RSVP.

Hope to see you on May 11th. Happy reading!

NICAR Book Club Recap, and April book selection

We had an excellent turnout at the News Nerd Book Club meetup in Denver. The book of the month was Cory Doctorow's Information Doesn't Want to be Free, which focused on copyright law and non-news content creators. (tl;dr here)

Our discussion was wide-ranging, and topics covered included:

  • Clickthrough licenses and other licensing formats that are restrictive by default
  • The gradual erosion of the public domain through Mickey Mouse laws
  • News nerd teams' approaches to licenses and collaboration, license choice versus no license
  • Licenses on open datasets created by news organizations
  • The sources of funding available to news organizations: Doctorow identified sales of physical product, ad sales, sales of swag, donations, ticket sales and commissions

There was also peach pie.

We haven't decided a book for April's book club meetup yet. Here's a list of books that have been suggested. What would you like to read?

The March Book Club Selection: Information Doesn’t Want to be Free

March is the month of the NICAR conference, and we're setting aside time in Denver to meet and discuss Information Doesn't Want to be Free: Laws for the Internet Age by Cory Doctorow.

Wil Wheaton read the audiobook version of IDWtbF, and Doctorow has posted the first chapter for free listening. The book is also available in hardcover and Kindle versions through Amazon. It centers on discussion and examples of Doctorow's three laws for the Internet age:

  1. Anytime someone puts a lock on something that belongs to you and won't give you the key, that lock isn't there for your benefit.
  2. Fame won't make you rich, but you can't get paid without it.
  3. Information doesn't want to be free; people do.

At 192 pages, we hope the book is short enough to read (or listen to!) before you get to Denver. If you don't have time to finish the book, we're going to focus discussion on the second law.

Meetup time and location is Thursday, March 10, from 2:15 to 3:15 p.m in Colorado A. Follow @newsnerdbooks on Twitter for updates! We'll also update this post with more information as the time comes.

Update, March 1: Book Club will be held during the conversations track, will last an hour, and there is a code of conduct. We're trying to find a source of good pie in Denver. If you find one, let us know at nerds@inn.org or by tweeting @innnerds.

Update, March 4: Book Club will meet Thursday, March 10, from  2:15 to 3:15 p.m. Look for us in the official NICAR schedule! We'll try to have a Cliffs-Notes version of the book up by then.

Update, March 9: Book Club will meet in Colorado A. If you haven't had the opportunity to finish the book yet, here's some reading notes. There's also a public notepad for the discussion.

A list of other NICAR 2016 conversations.

The publisher's blurb:

In sharply argued, fast-moving chapters, Cory Doctorow’s Information Doesn’t Want to Be Free takes on the state of copyright and creative success in the digital age. Can small artists still thrive in the Internet era? Can giant record labels avoid alienating their audiences? This is a book about the pitfalls and the opportunities that creative industries (and individuals) are confronting today — about how the old models have failed or found new footing, and about what might soon replace them.

An essential read for anyone with a stake in the future of the arts, Information Doesn’t Want to Be Free offers a vivid guide to the ways creativity and the Internet interact today, and to what might be coming next.

From an excerpt posted at NPR:

Copyright's test for industrial activity — are you making or handling a copy? — is no longer a good way to sort entertainment-industry transactions from personal, cultural, private activity. Insisting that normal people, doing normal things, should be able to navigate a system designed for a big, sophisticated industry is a fool's errand.

From the Kirkus starred review:

These aren’t the wild-eyed proclamations that arose from the Occupy movement or the hysteria that seems to surround Edward Snowden, whom Doctorow touches on only briefly here. Instead, the author advocates for a liberalized system of copyright laws that finally admits that the Internet, for all its virtues and diverse purposes, is nothing but one great big copy machine, and it’s not going away.


Announcing The January News Nerd Book Club Selection: Two Books Apart

We have decided to skip our December meeting and instead do a two-fer in January. Join us for our next News Nerd Book Club hangout on Wednesday, January 13th at 1 pm ET.

For our January gathering we'll be reading not one, but two new books recently released by A Book Apart: Responsive Design: Patterns and Principles by Ethan Marcotte and Going Responsive by Karen McGrane.

A bit on Going Responsive from the A Book Apart website:

Responsive design is more than the technical; it’s a new way of communicating and working that affects every person on your team. Karen McGrane draws on data and stories from real-world teams to show you why going responsive is just good business sense—and how to set up your project (from concept to launch) for total success. Learn how to plan and scope work, collaborate in a responsive context, evaluate content, handle browser support and testing, and measure performance outcomes. No matter your role or project, go responsive with confidence.

And on Responsive Design: Patterns and Principles:

As responsive design evolves, we have a critical need to think about design challenges beyond mobile, tablet, and desktop. When properly designed and planned, design patterns—small, reusable modules—help your responsive layout reach more devices (and people) than ever before. Ethan Marcotte shows you just how that’s done, focusing on responsive navigation systems, resizing and adapting images, managing advertising in a responsive context, and broader principles for designing more flexible, device-independent layouts.

Here's the event invitation and hangout link if you'd like to RSVP.

Hope to see you on January 13th. Happy reading!