When it’s time to edge away from the cloud

One of IT’s big trends of recent years has been the move to ‘the cloud’, accessing data remotely through the internet rather than storing it on a device. There is nothing particularly cloud-like about the racks of data centre electronics that provide such centralised storage, but as a concept cloud computing has swept all before it. This looks like it might be changing.

Based on Freedom of Information and open data, I recently looked at spending on cloud computing services by the UK public sector for The Register. This showed rapid growth – then flat-lining from late 2016. Continue reading “When it’s time to edge away from the cloud”

Introduction to data in journalism course on 5 July at the NUJ

I will be running a course on using data in journalism at the National Union of Journalists’ London headquarters on Thursday 5 July. The course, organised by the London Freelance branch, is open to NUJ members at a cost of £55 and everyone else for £110.

The course is very much aimed at working journalists, and covers understanding data and risk, assessing data quality, surveys, data sources such as government and open data, freedom of information, combining and manipulating data and graphing. (It will not directly cover use of spreadsheets – there’s a limit to what you can do in a day.) You need to bring your own laptop or tablet with keyboard. Book here. Continue reading “Introduction to data in journalism course on 5 July at the NUJ”

Why ‘soak the rich’ might not be the way to win Wandsworth

Labour was hoping that yesterday’s local elections would see it unseating the Conservatives in the London borough of Wandsworth, held by the Conservatives since 1978, along with perhaps Kensington and Chelsea and the City of Westminster. But the Conservatives have held all three.

For my data journalism e-book Britdata I worked out that one-tenth of the UK’s total gross value added economic output is generated in the workplaces in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Northumberland. The same proportion is generated by the workplaces of just five London council areas: Camden, City of London, Lambeth, Tower Hamlets and City of Westminster. Continue reading “Why ‘soak the rich’ might not be the way to win Wandsworth”

Woman sexually abused by Salvation Army members finally gets justice

Almost 20 years after going to the police, the men who attacked her as a young girl are convicted of offences from the 1970s

This article is a follow-up to an article Saba Salman and I wrote on Lucy Taylor’s story for Society Guardian in 2014.

Update: on 23 April, the three defendents in the trial were sentenced to prison. Philip Worthington was sentenced to eight years and three months, William Russell Tompkinson four years and Trevor Worthington 12 months. Derek Smith, who had earlier pleaded guilty, received a suspended sentence and will undertake 100 hours unpaid work (Lancashire Constabulary press release for details). Continue reading “Woman sexually abused by Salvation Army members finally gets justice”

Are you human, or are you software?

‘Artificial intelligence’ looks scary from a distance, but more limited and interesting close-up. In a recent article for Computer Weekly I explored whether AI software can be creative, such as by writing music. The answer is yes, but only with a lot of help from people – and according to those working on music-generating software, you’re going to get functional music for backing videos or lifts rather than the Goldberg Variations. Continue reading “Are you human, or are you software?”