I’ve had several blogs over the years, and I usually skip writing an introductory post because I’d rather start producing substantive content right away. In this case, however, I want to make my thinking explicit.
Last year, I signed up for the NICAR-L mailing list, which focuses on computer-assisted journalism and related topics. After reading countless useful and interesting exchanges, I thought it might be worthwhile to compile some of the resources mentioned in these emails and store them in a single, publicly accessible place.
Though I had about eight hundred NICAR-L emails lying around in my inbox, I quickly discovered that this material didn’t lend itself to the sort of project I had in mind. Many of the emails centered on job openings, events, and requests for specific types of data. Of the emails that did mention technical resources, most addressed highly specialized problems and tools, and I wasn’t going to do a better job of organizing this type of information than stackoverflow already has.
By the time I realized this, I had already organized the site around a handful of very general topics, and had compiled and categorized some links, so I went ahead and tested the first iteration of the site. (In order to fill in the gaps, I also borrowed quite a few links from other resource directories, as well as from lists that several helpful NICAR-L subscribers sent me.)
Looking at my analytics, I noticed that users seemed to be more interested in the Learning and Tutorials and Popular Source of Datasets pages than they were in other types of content. Reasoning that it would be fairly difficult to compile anything like a comprehensive list of major data sources, I decided to zoom-in on tutorials. I would also add a blog to the site and use it mainly as a place to post my own tutorials. That way, over time, the site’s content would become more representative of what I had learned and found useful.
My plan is to use this site as an outlet for data-driven posts on topics that interest me. These posts will also give me an excuse to test tools and write brief tutorials for Data Journalism Resources, like how using Datawrapper for my NICAR-L Job Announcements Data post inspired me write a post about making maps with Datawrapper.
I still need to make some other changes to both sites in terms of both content and design, but I’m optimistic about the plan I’ve outlined here.