I am at the Story + Algorithm Hack Day, held at MIT and organized by Knight/Mozilla.
The intention of the gathering is to turn loose a bunch of people to work together on news-oriented projects, and see what we can get done in 24 hours.
Originally, I wanted to take some data I have about funding of nonprofit news sites and put them in a timeline. Mainly, it was an excuse to see if I could get Timeline Setter, the timeline generator created by nonprofit investigative news shop ProPublica, to work.
AND IT WAS HARROWING!!
Now, I want to point out that it was harrowing for reasons that have absolutely nothing to do with the code created by the ProPublica team.
It was harrowing because I had to begin by shaving a yak.
If you’re not familiar with the phrase “shaving a yak,” here’s what it means. Let’s say you want to do A. But in order to do A, you have to do B. And in order to do B, you have to do C. And pretty soon, you find yourself on a hillside in Nepal, shaving a yak, with no real notion of what you originally set out to do, or, indeed, how you got there.
So in order for me to get Timeline Setter to work, I had to get Ruby working on my machine.
Then I had to get RVM, Ruby Version Manager, working, and update Ruby — which was in fact already installed on my Mac — to the latest version.
But before I did all that I had to install XCode, Apple’s developer toolkit.
Then I had to install some “gems” — Ruby bits and pieces upon which Timeline Setter depends.
Now, none of that happened with cute little installers with buttons. (Well, okay, XCode did). It all happened at the terminal windows, typing arcane incantations and hitting Enter.
Of course, not all of the arcane incantations actually worked, either because they were the wrong incantation, I typed them incorrectly, or perhaps I didn’t offer them with either A) the correct spirit or B) I didn’t sacrifice any chicken nuggets.
There was much Googling to find new incantations that might get RVM working, for example, and more for magical incantations to be added to the mysteries of The Bash Script. (I’d tell you, but there’s a ritual involved, and I’m completely beat).
Having surmounted all the previous obstacles, I typed a final incantation:
timeline-setter -c /Users/lisawilliams/Documents/test.csv -o /Users/lisawilliams/Documents
AND LO THERE WERE TIMELINES!
A file appeared that hadn’t been there before. Timeline Setter had taken the .csv file and, indeed, created a timeline from it.
Now I just need some interesting data.
It’ll probably be either funding of nonprofit journalism projects or voter suppression efforts.
- amandabees likes this
- naysaier likes this
- peekaachuu likes this
- notable likes this
- ivegotballsofsteel reblogged this from lifeandcode and added:
- unforeseen-circumstances reblogged this from lifeandcode
- unforeseen-circumstances likes this
- lifeandcode posted this