Sir Tim Berners-Lee reckons he's glimpsed the future of journalism – and given he's the person who invented the world wide web, you might not want to bet against him.
According to a story by Charles Arthur in The Guardian, in Berners-Lee's view, it lies with journalists who know their CSV from their RDF, can throw together some quick MySQL queries for a PHP or Python output … and discover the story lurking in datasets released by governments, local authorities, agencies, or any combination of them – even across national borders.
That's because he thinks the future lies in analysing data. Lots of data. Speaking on Friday he was asked who will analyse them once the geeks have moved on. What's the point? Who's really going to hold government, or anyone else, accountable?
"The responsibility needs to be with the press," Berners-Lee responded firmly. "Journalists need to be data-savvy. It used to be that you would get stories by chatting to people in bars, and it still might be that you'll do it that way some times.
"But now it's also going to be about poring over data and equipping yourself with the tools to analyse it and picking out what's interesting. And keeping it in perspective, helping people out by really seeing where it all fits together, and what's going on in the country."
If that sounds like a daunting prospect, then it's worth considering that hardly any of the journalism courses today teach any sort of data analysis – not even its simplest form, statistics.
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