As we’ve progressed through our private beta, one of the most fruitful activities has been talking with folks in different user communities about their data projects. This has had a profound impact on our product vision and roadmap (including a few major pivots). A number of themes have come up again and again, so we thought it would be useful to distill this down to a few of the most significant points. We’ll cover the major themes in this post and then turn to some insights we’ve gained from different user...

Ah, remember the query builder? In the brief history of the data ecosystem, the query builder already seems like a relic of a bygone era. Compared to predictive analytics, machine learning, and all the innovation going on around Big Data, the query builder is hardly a shiny new thing. Basically, you could say it’s an old interface for old data technologies. And yet the query builder has hardly gone away. Considering that there are millions of business users and data analysts using legacy BI systems or (gasp!) Microsoft Access, it’s still one of...

Over the summer, we embarked on a research project to learn more about data journalism and how data journalists work with data. We’ve had the pleasure and privilege to speak with a wide range of veteran data journalists about their work.  These conversations have been insightful and, frankly, inspirational.  We’ve heard about Chicago-based investigations on criminal justice from Matt Kiefer and Jonah Newman, discussed the role of an editor in data projects  with a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter, Manny Garcia, and learned about sites like Joe Germuska’s Census Reporter that help journalists...

Joe Germuska is Executive Director at the Knight Lab at Northwestern University, or as he calls it, “Chief Nerd”. Starting out as a programmer, he got into journalism in 2009 while working at the Chicago Tribune developing news applications and interactive data sites, such as “Crime in Chicagoland”, which aimed to make all reported crime data in the Chicagoland area searchable and more transparent. Joe was also the project lead for Census Reporter, a project funded by the Knight News Challenge that makes it easier for journalists and the public...

Manny Garcia is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter who is now the editor of the Naples Daily News. He previously served as the Executive Editor of El Nuevo Herald, the Spanish-language sister paper of the Miami Herald. In his many years of reporting, he has uncovered absentee ballot fraud in Miami, collaborated with the Toronto Star to expose Canadian pedophiles in Cuba, and covered stories spanning Latin America and the Caribbean. We caught up with Manny over the phone on a busy news day (Mike Pence was announced as Trump’s VP...

Alden Loury is currently the Director of Research and Evaluation at Metropolitan Planning Council, a nonprofit community organization for Chicago. This summer, he’s been working on a series of blog posts highlighting the growth of segregation in the suburbs, the difficulty of commuting to suburban jobs, and the population decline in Chicagoland. Alden previously worked as a senior policy analyst at the Better Government Association and as a reporter, senior editor, and publisher at the Chicago Reporter. His print journalism career stretches back to the 1990s, when he got his...

Andy Boyle is a full-stack web developer for NBC’s BreakingNews.com and has worked for a range of publications, including the Chicago Tribune and New York Times.  Andy specializes in developing data apps such as the Chicago Tribune Election Center, which tracks election data and news. Other notable work he’s done includes an interactive crime map for the City of Chicago, which tracks shootings and crime in the greater Chicagoland area, and a parole decision app for the Boston Globe that simulates the parole decision-making process for second-degree murderers. We had a...

Jonah Newman is a database reporter for the Chicago Reporter. His recent joint project on police misconduct settlements is an ambitious endeavour to make these cases more transparent by providing lawsuit data going back to 2012 in an easily searchable and sortable database. Jonah’s criminal justice coverage in the City of Chicago has included stories on racial profiling by the University of Chicago police department, and data visualizations on youth opinions on police and gun violence. Previously a database reporter at the Chronicle of Higher Education in Washington DC, Jonah...

Jeff Kelly Lowenstein currently lectures on journalism at Columbia College and was previously the database and investigative editor at Hoy, the Chicago Tribune’s Spanish-language newspaper. He spent part of 2012 in Santiago, Chile where he taught as a Fulbright scholar at the University of Diego Portales. His numerous projects include investigating nursing home inequality with the Center for Public Integrity, examining the enduring rifts in Chilean society 40 years after the Pinochet coup, as well as actively blogging for the Huffington Post. In your own words what is data journalism? For me...

Daniel Hertz is a Senior Fellow at the City Observatory, a website and think tank devoted to data-driven analysis of cities and the policies that shape them. A recent graduate of the Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago, Daniel writes extensively on urban issues in the City of Chicago.  His original research and data visualizations have been cited by the Chicago Tribune and Toronto Star among others. Most recently, he’s launched The Chicago Dispatch, an online publication that publishes interviews, essays and articles about the Windy City. We...