Nathan Ruser, a 20-year-old Australian National University student who is majoring in international security with a keen interest in cartography, discovered a fitness app had revealed the locations of secret military sites in Syria and elsewhere. He posted on Twitter about this, did not expect much response.
But the news ricocheted across the internet. Security experts said the Strave app’s “heat map” could be used by hostile entities glean valuable intelligence. The Pentagon said it was reviewing the situation.
How he found the news?
“Whoever thought that operational security could be wrecked by a Fitbit?” Mr. Ruser, said in an interview with New York Times from Thailand, where he is spending part of the Australian summer break.
When he looked over Syria on Strava’s map — which is based on location data from millions of users, including military personnel, who share their exercise activity — the area “lit up with those U.S. bases,” he said.
Before publicly sharing his findings over the weekend, he discussed them in a private chat group on Twitter, made up of people interested in intelligence and security issues. “I know about two-thirds of what I know about the world from the group chats,” he said.
It is time to break-down the broad concept of “data journalism”. When talking about the combination of data and news, we usually refer to two processes, sometimes conducted in an integral manner. One process is to discover news points from datasets. The datasets can provide a lead for further investigation. The final product does not necessarily reflect the usage of data. It may look the same as normal news products mainly composed of interviews and photos. This is called “data mining” in the science domain. Another process is to present news points using data. There come to all kinds of charts and interactive/ immersive presentations. This is called “data visualisation” in the science domain.
Let’s focus on the “data mining” part in this article. That is to discover news from datasets, or more precisely discover a news lead from datasets. The further development of the entire news story may take much more efforts with a combination of traditional and modern methods. For easier discussion, we treat “news” in the general form: something the audience does not know before reading, a.k.a, something that “appears new”. It could be the status update of a current affair, or it could be the “new knowledge” to the readers (probably be “common knowledge” to experts which we don’t want to waste time debating).
As advocated by the “Road to Jan”: the most profound theory takes the simplest form. As a first step, we try not using programming, or even sophisticated spreadsheet skills. One can readily find some “news” with a bit “nose for news” and be computer literate is good enough. In this article, we will demo a few news points mined by our undergraduate students from Hong Kong government data portal: https://data.gov.hk . It took around 20 minutes in the second class of a data journalism course. We start with a public dataset from the portal, check out the data tables and eyeball if there is anything interesting. The process is so quick that we would like to give it a brand name: Lightning News. One can sharpen his/her news sense and data sense by doing this as daily exercise.
The School of Communication and the Department of Journalism of HKBU will organize a University-wide “HKBU Data-driven Storytelling Competition 2018” in early-mid March. We hope to facilitate the interdisciplinary teaching, learning, and discussion on data-driven news reporting and storytelling, as well as to appreciate exemplary student projects using emerging technologies.
Now the Competition Coordination Committee (“Committee”) is calling for two student helpers as event organizers to help handle event preparation and support. Duties include the following:
Designing a (simple one-page) poster for the event;
Designing a website with several (static) pages for event updates;
Monitoring and documenting the registration process;
Handling participants’ submissions;
Providing contact and liaison support for different parties;
Documenting the entire process, such as taking photos, writing brief essays and recaps;
Other administrative and logistic support to be assigned by the Committee.
Requirements: full-time HKBU students with good English and Chinese skills, prior knowledge and experience on data-driven storytelling and web design will be an advantage.
The student helper each will receive an allowance at a rate 50 HKD/hour, with a total of 10 – 15 hours.
Please submit your CV including your relevant credentials to Xinzhi Zhang ( xzzhang2 [AT] hkbu [DOT] edu [DOT] hk ) on or before 6:00 pm, 25 Feb (Sunday).
Note: Late applicants will not be accepted. Also, for the sake of fairness, student helpers are NOT allowed to participate in this competition. The Committee appreciates all the applications. However, only shortlisted candidates will be contacted.
Civic Exchange (思匯政策研究所,“CE” hereafter, a think tank) held a workshop on Covering Open Space 101 Workshop in HKBU on 7 Feb 2018, as a part of the collaboration with HKBU JOUR to conduct a series of investigative reports on open space in Hong Kong. CE’s researcher, Carine Lai and an experienced journalist, Christopher DeWolf, were invited to share their experience and techniques in doing open space research in Hong Kong. After the learning sessions, students tried to use the maps to practice the knowledge learned from the workshop. Here is the recap of the event.
There were more than four months after the 2017 Las Vegas shooting, which is the deadliest mass shooting* committed by an individual of the States. As the largest gun-holding ratio (per capita) country around the world, USA has long been debating the gun control, yet, no consensus has been able to achieve. That’s also why media play a huge role in formulating the public debate and policy-making of gun control. We will discuss the two following reports by BBC (America’s gun culture in 10 charts) and The Telegraph (One mass shooting every day: Seven facts about gun violence in America) to illustrate the strengths and limitations of media coverage on the gun control.
Summary: Everyone seeks fortune. But managing financial affairs is not an easy cook for the general public since that business jargon and the complicated fluctuations in price have confused many investors who merely have the faintest idea of investment. At this point, bonds — a fixed income investment with a defined holding period — draws the attention of many, yet a less risky basket of this kind could still be affected by the ever-changing market.
Thus, we used Python and the universally-acknowledged bond valuation method, Discounted Cash Flow (DCF), to design an efficient and easy-understanding calculator to help green hands to estimate if they can receive the expected proportion of benefit from a given bond.
Understanding Bonds: What is a Bond and How Bonds Work
“A bond is a fixed income investment in which an investor loans money to an entity which borrows the funds for a defined period of time at a fixed interest rate.”
The first principle of making infographics is clearness because infographics are created for sharing, said Marcelo Duhalde, an infographic designer from SCMP as well as his colleague Marco Hernandez, invited by Hong Kong Design Institute on Feb 6.