I loved David Carr’s talk at TedxPoynter.   He’s like the cool uncle I always wanted to have.

Hey, video of my TedX talk, “Do I Really Have To Learn How To Program?” is up.   I gave it at TedxPoynter — Poynter is a journalism think-tank in St. Petersburg, FL, and my talk is mostly about how acquiring some simple programming skills can revolutionize journalism, get you a job, and change the world. 

14 minutes.  Highlights: 

  • Summarizing all journalism conferences in two slides
  • Unicorn poop
  • Westboro Baptist Church
  • XML Zombies
  • CRUD
  • The Type of Programming Journalism Needs Is Simple
  • How Simple Programming Can Transform (and Improve) Journalism
  • How To Have Fun And Enjoy A Tiny Bit of Job Security

Last week I was able to participate in TedxPoynter, an independently organized TED event put together by The Poynter Institute, a journalism think tank.  

You can find mine starting at 6:13 (that’s SIX HOURS and thirteen minutes — this video takes in the whole event!)  

The title of my talk is “Do I Really Have To Learn To Program?”  An early alternate title I considered was "Stop Whining Already."  It’s about how getting past your hangups to learn simple programming skills can give you huge advantages if you want to do good journalism or act in the public interest.  It contains:

  • unicorns, 
  • zombies, 
  • rainbow poop, 
  • protest marches, 
  • Westboro Baptist Church, 
  • Pulitzer Prizes, 
  • melting icebergs, 
  • and babies.  

You will love it.

What did I love about TedxPoynter?

I also loved Meredith Censullo’s talk, which was immediately before mine.  She’s a traffic reporter, and she had a really funny and insightful talk about realtime media and Twitter.  If you want to see something really different, hop around until you see Michelle Royal, who se hand-drawn slides were really fabulous and interesting.  And the bravest talk of the day (which also had the most f-bombs) came from Jessica Hopper (In the taxi on the way to the airport, Jessica told me about this piece she wrote about pop star Lana Del Rey, and I read it and YOU MUST READ IT NOW because it’s amazing).  Bill Adair gave a talk on an idea that I’ve been kicking around for awhile, namely, narrow comprehensiveness and how the web rewards sites that are “everything about something.”  His contribution to helping people think about journalism outside the narrative journalism box was really useful.  David Carr and Sree Sreenivasan were also funny and great.  I admit, since my talk was rather late in the day I spent a lot of time fidgeting in my seat; it’s a lot easier to pay attention AFTER I’m done doing whatever public speaking I’m up for.  

The one thing that I think the tech leaves out, sadly, is the audience reaction.  TedxPoynter had a phenomenally engaged, interested, vocal crowd — but all you can hear of the crowd is whatever the handheld or clip-on mike that the speaker is holding manages to pick up.  I remember the crowd during my talk being really loud and laughing a lot — in fact I stopped several times so I wasn’t talking over people, but that’s not evident here.  Since so much of the energy of an event is the audience, that’s a little too bad, but I figure you guys can add that energy back in your head as you watch.  

Organizer Ellyn Angelotti did a great job, as did many others at Poynter. Thanks guys!  I look forward to coming back to teach later in the year. 

Life And Code’s Learn to Code Resource Guide Updated: 90+ free resources for beginners

Newly updated for today’s #tedxpoynter conference, the Life and Code Learn to Code Resource Guide has 90+ resources for beginner and aspiring programmers.

This is a list of resources you can use to begin to write your own programs, written with journalists in mind.  I focus mostly on free resources that are available to anybody online, and resources useful to people starting from scratch. I will be adding to this over time.  If you’d like to know about new additions, subscribe to this blog (or follow us on Tumblr).  If you have additions or corrections, please leave a comment below. You can also follow me on Twitter, where I am @lisawilliams

Livestream for TedxPoynter -- talks about journalism's future

There will be a livestream for TedxPoynter, so even if you’re not here in St. Petersburg, FL, you can still hear all the great talks live.  Check it out here tomorrow on Friday, June 1.  

(Psst!  I will be talking at 3 EST!)


TEDxPoynterInstitute - Jason Sadler - Don’t Say the V Word: Instead Be Shareable

I hope you enjoy my TEDx talk from the Poynter Institute in October, 2011. Let’s all stop saying “the v-word”.

Hello, St. Pete!
Here in St. Petersburg, FL, for TEDxPoynter, an independently organized TED conference at The Poynter Institute, a journalism think tank.  
I hear there will be livestreaming tomorrow!  I’ll post links when I find out. 

Hello, St. Pete!

Here in St. Petersburg, FL, for TEDxPoynter, an independently organized TED conference at The Poynter Institute, a journalism think tank.  

I hear there will be livestreaming tomorrow!  I’ll post links when I find out. 

About Me

Lisa Williams

Founder of | Winner of Knight News Challenge | Center for Civic Media, MIT Media Lab | Cambridge, MA | @lisawilliams on Twitter | lisawilliams on Github