Open Source Musings The thoughts, ideas, and opinions of an open source guy

Doing data journalism with open source software

A couple of newspapers and a pair of glasses

(Note: This post was first published, in a slightly different form, at and appears here via a Creative Commons license.)

When I was in journalism school back in the late 1980s, gathering data for a story usually involved hours of poring over printed documents or microfiche.

A lot has changed since then. While printed resources are still useful, more and more information is available to journalists on the web. That’s helped fuel a boom in what’s come to be known as data journalism. At its most basic, data journalism is the act of finding and telling stories using data — like census data, crime statistics, demographics, and more.

There are a number of powerful and expensive tools that enable journalists to gather, clean, analyze, and visualize data for their stories. But many smaller or struggling news organizations, let alone independent journalist, just don’t have to budget for those tools. But that doesn’t mean they’re out in the cold.

There are a number of solid open source tools for data journalists that do the job both efficiently and impressively. This article looks at six tools that can help data journalists get the information that they need.

Getting that wiki feeling on the desktop with Zim

'Wiki' spelled out with keyboard keys and with pens and pencils pointing at it

There’s no denying that a wiki can be an very useful piece of software. You can do so much with one — write notes and drafts, collaborate on projects, even build complete websites. And more.

I’ve used more than a few wikis in the past, either for my own work or at various contract and full-time gigs I’ve held. While traditional wikis are fine, I really like the idea of desktop wikis. They’re small, easy to install and to maintain, and easy to use. And, as you’ve probably guessed, there are a number a desktop wikis available for Linux.

Let’s take a look at one of the better desktop wikis: Zim.

Using pygmynote to manage your information

An open book and a notebook

Information. We all deal with more than a bit of it daily. Notes, links, ideas, tasks, quotes, snippets, and interesting files. And how we deal with those pieces of information varies from person to person. Some of us store them in text or word processor files. Others use one or more online tools. Some of us even use reliable, old fashioned paper.

But no matter how you collect your information, managing it is always a chore. And while there are a number of open source tools for effectively managing your information, why not turn to the command line? One excellent command line tool for managing information is pygmynote.

Let’s take a closer look at it.

A few links of interest - 15 December, 2016

3 Twitter clients for the Linux command line

Twitter welcome screen on a phone

(Note: This post was first published, in a slightly different form, at and appears here via a Creative Commons license.)

Twitter at the command line? Why not!

While this seems like a solution searching for a problem, for some people interacting with Twitter in a terminal window makes sense. There’s less distraction at the command line than with a desktop Twitter client or even Twitter’s web interface, On top of that, command-line clients are fast and their interfaces are generally quite clean.

No matter why you want to work with Twitter in a terminal, there are applications out there for you. Here’s a look at three Twitter clients that you can run from the command line.