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  • Eric Ulken 4:46 pm on June 6, 2008
    Tags: , ,   

    New at Electoral vote map 

    Now that the primary season is over and the general election campaign is heating up, it’s time to introduce a fun little electoral vote map built by my colleague, Sean Connelley. What’s unique about this one is that you can create your own scenario here and then grab some code to embed it in your website, like so:

  • Eric Ulken 7:59 am on May 13, 2008
    Tags: , Jason Kottke   

    The audacity of meme 


    Whether or not you believe Barack Obama is Mr. Wonderful, this percolating politics meme is kind of a hoot: Jason Kottke is aggregating tweets that start with “When Obama wins“…

  • Eric Ulken 11:34 pm on April 1, 2008  

    What anger looks like 

    I’m not an angry journalist, but it’s hard not to be drawn to the alternately sad/funny/heartless/clueless screeds at Seeking some aggregate wisdom from the 2,794 comments posted to date, I captured all the venom and slammed it through TagCrowd (omitting various forms of the words “angry” and “journalist”). The result (click a tag to see where it appears in comments):

    created at

    Glad to know the web doesn’t figure as large in people’s anger as I might have guessed, but I’m not encouraged by the relative sizes of love and hate.

    Update (2008.04.02): There aren’t enough posts at to turn out a good cloud. C’mon, people!

  • Eric Ulken 8:53 pm on February 11, 2008
    Tags: Georgia Tech   

    Where I’ll be later this month 

    I’m looking forward to attending the Journalism 3G symposium on computation and journalism at Georgia Tech Feb. 22-23. If you’re a news geek, I can’t imagine a better place to be. If you’re going, ping me.

  • Eric Ulken 1:47 am on February 4, 2008
    Tags: New England Patriots, The Boston Globe   

    The Globe jumps the gun 


    For sale on 19-0: The Historic Championship Season of New England’s Unbeatable Patriots, by The Boston Globe.

    Guessing the Giants might quibble with that title.

    (via E&P)
  • Eric Ulken 11:21 pm on January 20, 2008  

    Technical skills in journalism jobs 

    The students in my online media class at USC are looking for the technical skills that will help land them jobs in journalism, and I want to help them identify what those skills might be. I have a pretty good idea, of course, but I thought I’d be more quantitative in my assessment. So I took all the online job descriptions on from this year, omitted the non-technical words (like “editor”, “seeks” and “self-starter”) and built a tagcloud out of the rest. Here’s what it looks like:

    created at

    Update (2008.02.04): This post drew a lot more notice than I would have guessed. My favorite response comes from fellow Mizzou alum Chris Heisel, now at the AJC, who built his own tech skills tagcloud. I have a feeling Chris’ wish list comes a lot closer to nailing the critical skills than most of the postings on JournalismJobs do.

    Update (2008.04.02): The tagcloud is hopefully more useful now that the tags link back to keyword searches in’s online job listings. I was linking keywords for my post on and I thought I might as well do it here too.

  • Eric Ulken 12:03 pm on January 6, 2008
    Tags: Pinkberry   

    Why does Pinkberry prohibit photography? 


    Seriously, guys. WTF? Yet another reason to boycott Pinkberry and patronize yummy Cefiore in Little Tokyo instead. Who’s with me?

  • Eric Ulken 6:42 pm on December 22, 2007  

    My early Christmas present 

    OK. So, I know these are supposed to be for underprivileged children and all, but I just had to get my hands on the OLPC XO laptop, quite possibly the coolest tech gadget of the year. Sure, my BlackBerry probably has more processing power, but an afternoon spent playing with the pint-sized XO leaves me with the feeling that this little wonder could really change the world.

    I am sure the machine’s intended users will find it even more compelling than I do. Still, I managed waste about two hours playing SimCity (the original version I remember from my childhood!)

    I took the photo above with the XO’s built-in camera. Not great, but certainly adequate. I am also writing this entry in the device’s web browser.

    The keyboard and trackpad are way too small for my fingers, but again, I’m not the target audience. Plus my Mac keyboard and mouse worked just fine when plugged into one of the device’s three USB ports (that’s one more than my PowerBook has).

    On the whole, I have to say, I’m really impressed. Good thing I got two of these, so I can give one to a deserving kid in my family and keep one for my less deserving self.

    P.S.: If you now have gadget envy, you should know that OLPC’s Give One, Get One program has been extended until Dec. 31.

  • Eric Ulken 9:05 pm on December 10, 2007  

    Visualizing the primary season 


    Our latest interactive data project, launched today, is the 2008 Primary Tracker. It’s a visual guide to next year’s crazy presidential nominating season, which begins earlier and culminates faster than any in U.S. history. Check it out.

  • Eric Ulken 1:24 pm on November 18, 2007  

    Competition in local data 

    News websites are starting to see some competition on the local data front from niche players that do one thing very well. Witness SignalMap, which maps users’ reports of cellular reception, and CleanScores, a database of restaurant health inspections in L.A. and San Francisco (credit to Joe Murphy for pointing these out).

    SignalMap is nationwide — its concept scales easily because doesn’t require any cooperation from local governments — but CleanScores has to ingest health data from umpteen jurisdictions if it wants to expand to every major market, which it says it intends to do. I see this as a challenge to local news organizations. We have the relationships and the local know-how to do this kind of thing better than anybody else. What we still lack, in many cases, is the technical sense and the will.

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