The making of Detective.io: teamwork was key

Detective.io - Data Journalism Nominee

Detective.io hosts several investigations. There, journalists and analysts add and browse data that they scraped or collected by hand. Journalism++ co-founder Nicolas Kayser Bril shares how the for a Data Journalism Award nominated application was made: “A tool like Detective.io needs developers, designers, project managers, testers… No one could do that alone.”

detective.io by journalism++ : data journalism nominee

“Detective.io is a tool to structure and query data used in journalistic investigations and business intelligence. Its graph search and visualization features let anyone do advanced network analysis in seconds.”

Inspiration

“We have worked in network analysis for several years now. Working at OWNI, I (with Pierre Romera), created InfluenceNetworks, a tool to store and explore relationships between people. It failed but taught us a lot. We also look closely at Poderopedia, Grano, LittleSis and all the other network analysis projects out there.

With Detective, we cater to the common users who have data needs that cannot be answered by a spreadsheets but don’t have the time to learn a complex tool. The idea for the interface came from a friend of ours who’s a police officer and needed a tool to keep track of her networks of dealers. True story!”

Team & Tools

“A tool like Detective.io needs developers, designers, project managers, testers… No one could do that alone. The team used Django, Neo4j, Neo4Django, Angular.JS.”

Process

“Detective.io uses concepts from the semantic web, like ontologies and triples. Even though users recognize the power of the tool once they start using it, we have yet to find a good metaphor to explain what it does.””

Future

“The future of data journalism looks bright! The need for communicating data-heavy findings is expanding, and this is good news for datajournalists.” When asked for advise for starting data journalists, Kayser-Brill says that “knowing how to code a scraper is a must, as is understanding basic concepts of Javascript. But focusing too much on data can be misleading, as the “journalist” part is most important. Programming, project management or design will still be done by professionals.”

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