We are extremely pleased to announce that three News Labs and R&D staff won three awards at Al Jazeera’s Canvas Media in Context hackathon.
Thomas Parisot and Basile Simon won the ‘Greatest Impact and Disruption’ and ‘Best diffusion’ awards for tinyfm, and Melanie Moeller won the ‘Best Editorial Context’ for Narrata.
Putting the web on air with tinyfm
In short, we hacked a new technology, a Raspberry Pi, to give another go to an old technology, the radio. The radio emits an FM signal in a limited range, people listen to it with their regular FM receivers and FM-enabled mobile phones (like some Android and FirefoxOS ones). Then they can bounce and add up some more content based on their very own local experience.
The tech behind it is rather complex but oddly elegant: it associates two back-end solutions to power both a local radio transmitter and a mobile web-app to enable the users to interact with the content, as they would do with a jukebox in a bar.
Ideally, these little cheap transmitters would be in a lot of places. You could walk down the street with your smartphone in radio mode and literally listen to people’s tastes. Hopefully, the news and journalism diffusion dimensions of this project, as well as its inexpensive nature, will make innovative news publishers such as Al Jazeera think about these hyper-local and people-centric solutions for punctual reporting.
We scaled small and cheap but with openness and creativity in mind:
- An affordable and commodity device: the Raspberry Pi;
- A simple metallic wire turns the Pi into an FM transmitter;
- A reusable toolkit;
- For ocal experience only;
- A mobile Webapp hosted by the Pi;
- Can work offline and thus, can be carried with you wherever you go
Here is the link to our submission.
The third major prize, 'Greatest Impact and Disruption', goes to Tiny.Fm! Congratulations! It's a brilliant broadcasting tool!— Al Jazeera I&R (@aljazeerair) December 1, 2014
Second $1000 prize, 'Best Distribution Phase Solution' goes to Tiny.Fm!— Al Jazeera I&R (@aljazeerair) December 1, 2014
Proposing a new journalism format with ‘Narrata’ for data-driven storytelling
In fast-paced, deadline-driven newsrooms, it’s not always an option to create a custom, bespoke interactive data visualisation for every story that needs one.
So, our team built ‘Narrata’, a customisable visualisation tool for building stories around data. The tool enables journalists to upload a data set and to input story snippets linked to specific data points. Hence, the story is being told along curated data subsets, which ‘Narrata’ dynamically generates.
Our hack proposes data-driven storytelling, a journalism format, which is a new approach to narrating the news - The data set tells the story and short text snippets provide additional insight.
Narrata consists of two parts:
Can be found at mediaincontext.parseapp.com/ and allows journalists to upload their data set and to enter and edit their story snippets. Narrata doesn’t require more than uploading two spreadsheets. No coding skills required!
The Data Visualisation - User Interface:
The data visualisation changes as the reader scrolls through the article, which essentially transform the reading experience. Interactive bar charts beneath the map allow to explore multiple stories within the story. As a journalist uploads their data, a unique URL is being generated, which can either be shared straight away or published in an iframe. (Here is an example we put together, portraiting protests in South Africa prior to the May 2014 elections.
Who is ‘Narrata’ for?
- Journalists: Are able to easily generate interactive data visualisations without having to rely on developers.
- Developers: Gives developers a template to create interactive ‘data storylines’ quickly.
- Newsreader: Provides a focused, immersive and concise reading experience to the user.
The Technology behind ‘Narrata’
The submission can be found here.
Third $1000 prize, 'Best Consumption Phase Solution' goes to Street Stories! Congratulations!— Al Jazeera I&R (@aljazeerair) December 1, 2014
About the staff
More about the event
The Canvas hackathon brought to Doha more than 90 hackers, developers, designers, and journalists, gathered in 19 teams. Flying from 37 different countries, the participants were all taken care of by Al Jazeera.
All the submissions to the event can be found here.
We would like to thank the Canvas team for putting together a mind-blowing event, supported by a rock-solid organisation team. It was a privilege to come hacking with you - and feel free to invite us again in the Gulf, Thomas, Basile, and Mel miss the sun and warmth already.
“Best hackathon ever.”