Urban renewal for data ghettos

So, I gather that in newsrooms it’s become [fashionable](http://dunes.cincinnati.com/data/) to [put](http://www2.tbo.com/static/news-special-reports-data-bay/tbo-special-reports-database-main-page/) [public](http://www.indystar.com/apps/pbcs.dll/section?Category=LOCAL08) [records](http://www.azcentral.com/datacenter/) [online](http://www.app.com/apps/pbcs.dll/section?Category=data).

I totally love the term that [Matt Waite](http://www.mattwaite.com/2008/01/02/data-ghettos/) coined — calling them [data ghettos](http://www.mattwaite.com/2008/01/02/data-ghettos/):

> But if you take a step into one of the databases and you get to my second problem with them: couple of search boxes and a button.
>
> Is that really it? Is that the big newspaper.com push into data? Sprawling, barely organized pages to get to a couple of search boxes and a button?

I’ve certainly been [guilty of this](http://projects.ajc.com/purchases/) myself.

But I love the solution that my team came up with at [work](http://www.ajc.com) for a [Georgia names](http://projects.ajc.com/names/lists/) project that went live tonight.

They provided both [a searchable interface](http://projects.ajc.com/names/search/) and some [pre-set searches that highlight interesting](http://projects.ajc.com/names/lists/) names.

The best part is that [Zellyn](http://zellyn.com/) made it so that journalists, developers, designers, or anyone in our group can create new lists on the fly in our neat-o keen [Django](http://www.djangoproject.com) application.

It’s the first time at work that we’ve built a tool around a set of data. Normally we lump our work into two camps:

* **Data-driven applications** like my purchase card project expect that the only human interaction is our loyal readers contrasted with…
* **Tools** like our gallery publishing system expect staff users on the ‘backend’ *and* loyal readers to interact with them on the ‘front’ end

This the first time that we’ve merged aspects of both and I think it provides some urban renewal to what could otherwise be a [data ghetto](http://www.mattwaite.com/2008/01/02/data-ghetto/).

About Chris

Python developer, Agile practitioner trying desperately not to be a pointy haired boss.
This entry was posted in Databases, Journalism, Programming. Bookmark the permalink.

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