Information Explosion And Journalism

On a trip back to my alma mater today for a meeting, I chanced upon this article in the school’s newspaper, The Nanyang ChronicleIEM pioneers worry about their jobs. It seems that NTU’s first batch of Information Engineering and Media students don’t really know what kind of jobs they can snag with their degrees. Here’s a suggestion: work as journalists.

Based on the curriculum outlined on their website, I think these students are equipped with the technical expertise and the visual skills to create data visualisation. This is a new form of journalism that will become increasingly useful in helping us make sense of a world increasingly awashwith data. Watch this excellent video, Journalism in the Age of Data, to figure what this is all about and some of the issues involved.

However, there is one issue that I think will severely hinder the development of this kind of journalism here — the lack of readily available data. It’s not that it isn’t being collected in this high-tech country, but such data is just not readily made available to anyone except the authorities. For instance, think about how every car in Singapore has an in-vehicle unit that generates a dataset about car usage patterns in Singapore. What is lacking, however, is the presentation of such data in a visual form to help the public better understand how our society depends on cars.

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