Lightning presentations

Using MuckRock to get public records

Michael Morisy, founder: MuckRock is a tool used by journalists, activists and researchers to make the government more transparent through easier public records requests. Users can easily click and file to discover everything from how government is spending tax dollars to insight into the FBI's files on prominent figures, and publicly track and share the progress and results of their request.


Matt Stempeck, MIT: LazyTruth is a Chrome extension for Gmail that gives you verified debunks of common chain forwards.We’ve built an inbox extension that surfaces quality information when you receive an email forward full of political myths, urban legends, or security threats. People who consulted fact-checking sites in the 2012 election had a better understanding of candidates’ positions, even after controlling for party, ideology, interest in the election, gender, age, education, and race. LazyTruth brings this knowledge to you. We’ve built a Chrome extension for Gmail, and we’re looking to expand to other mail providers and browsers.

Bringing News to a News Desert

Saul Tannenbaum, Cambridge: “Using aggregating to simulate a newspaper.” Cambridge is effectively a news desert. It's not that there isn't a lot of Cambridge news, it's' that there is so much of it spread across so many sources with no one "paper" of record. I've been experimenting with, a news aggregation service, to build a Cambridge-centric news compendium and will describe how it works, how to build your own news site, and some of the positives and pitfalls.

Twitter Metrics

Joel Abrams,,, and a study on the impact of writing good tweets and tweeting a second time.

#Bigbirds never die: understanding the dynamics of emergent hashtags

Brian Keegan, Northeastern U: The study examines the emergence, growth, and lifetime of emergent hashtags during the 2012 presidential debates. We examine 256 exogenously created, emergent hashtags in terms of their growth, survival and interaction with their environment. We find that emergent tags can be classified into two categories: "winners," that grow rapidly and sustain growth over a substantial period of time, and "also-rans" tags that start with a burst but quickly die out.

Data vs. the Volcano

Hjalmar Gislason, founder & CEO, DataMarket: I was working on an earthquake visualization late at night when I noticed some weird things in the Icelandic earthquake feed. Posting this on Facebook, I quickly had scientist friends, emergency response team leaders and others commenting and analyzing and for the next 90 minutes my Facebook thread was the only place with coverage of the beginning of the now infamous Eyjafjallajökull eruption.


Nate Aune. Mediathread is an innovative, open-source platform for exploration, analysis, and organization of web-based multimedia content. Mediathread connects to a variety of image and video collections (such as YouTube, Flickr, Pinterest, and library databases), enabling users to lift items out of these collections and into an analysis environment. In Mediathread, items can then be clipped, annotated, organized, and embedded into essays and other written analysis.

Cascading Tree Sheets

Ted Benson, MIT: Cascading Tree Sheets does for web structure what CSS does for style. It helps you create interactive widgets and themes that can easily be reused and customized just by adding a few CSS classes to your website. For journalists, this offers a way to weave interactives into your web content without having to write custom plugins for your CMS.

Dynamics of shared attention on Twitter during media events

Yu-Ru Lin, Northeastern U.: Media events such as political debates generate conditions of shared attention as many users simultaneously tune in with the dual screens of broadcast and social media to view and participate. Using data from about 200,000 Twitter users, we compare features of their behavior during eight major events during the 2012 U.S. presidential election to examine (1) the impact “media events” have on patterns of social media use compared to “typical” time and (2) whether changes during media events are attributable to changes in behavior across the entire population or an artifact of changes in elite users’ behavior. Our findings suggest that while users across the system become more active during media events, this additional activity reflects concentrated attention to a handful of users, hashtags, and tweets.

Vine for Journalism

Joanna Kao, MIT. How newsrooms are using Vine, ways it can be used in reporting. Joanna will also talk also about (and maybe show the beginnings of) a tool for journalists using Vine.


When: Thursday, March 7

Where: Lippmann House, 1 Francis St., Cambridge (corner of Francis and Kirkland streets)

Time:: 7-8:30 pm

The event is sponsored by Hacks/Hackers Boston and the Nieman-Berkman Fellowship.



Join or login to comment.

  • Louis Hatzis

    Will we have to RSVP again?

    March 7, 2013

    • Matt Carroll

      Yes, unfortunately people will have to RSVP again. It's too difficult to figure out how many will be going otherwise.

      March 7, 2013

  • Brian Keegan

    Still on despite the snow?

    March 7, 2013

  • E B

    Apparently 1 Francis Avenue, Cambridge, MA (not Street)... Fascinating subjects

    March 7, 2013

  • @MaureenManALM

    pending snow

    March 7, 2013

  • Tim Allik

    Looks good ...

    March 6, 2013

  • Chong-ae LEE

    I would like to attend.

    February 10, 2013

  • Laura

    I'm experiencing a particularly googlely challenge with my Android app:( I welcome any Java based input/suggestions and/or how to connect with a human Android gatekeeper:)

    Please directly message, find me(bluish tunic), or instruct me how to connect with you if curious. Thank you!

    February 25, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    I'd love to talk about NearbyFYI - A research tool for local government documents: unders­.

    1 · February 10, 2013

  • Stacey

    Oops, can't make it after all, so I'm un-"yes"ing. Sorry.

    February 12, 2013

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