Thoughts from NICAR 2014: taking action


March 4, 2014

This past weekend, I attended the IRE NICAR conference in Baltimore, MD.

It took me a while to figure out what those acronyms stand for, but they’re Investigative Reporters and Editors and National Institute of Computer-Assisted Reporting.

Now, I am not a reporter, editor, or computer-assisted journalist, but I found the entire conference fascinating and learned a lot. I thought I’d write up some of my impressions to keep them fresh for myself, and in case anyone might be interested in what a statistician thought of a journalism conference.

I had a lot of thoughts, so I’ll be breaking this into a couple pieces. The first thing I’ll say is that I’m taking Matt Waite’s advice, and putting my learning into action immediately following NICAR. That’s what this blog is! I’ve been meaning to learn jekyll for months now, and writing about NICAR provided the perfect motivating project to learn the tool. I’ve already switched my entire website to jekyll, and I’m learning how to build blogs (what jekyll is really good at ) now.

Some resources that have been helpful to me on this journey include:

sudo xcodebuild -license

This turns out to be one of the things that was hanging up my jekyll install. I kept thinking it was a problem with my ruby version, or with some other dependency, but once I had run that and agreed to the xcode user agreement, doing

gem install jekyll

worked right out of the box.

Once I had jekyll running, I referred to a bunch of other peoples’ blog posts and github repositories, notably:

Obviously, this is a work in progress. But I’m feeling good about jumping right on something that I’ve been wanting to try for ages, especially since it came up so much at the conference. Separation of presentation and content. It is good.

This is the first in a series of three posts about NICAR. The second is here and the third is here.