Guardian Tag Explorer, Take 2 – Martin Works Some Magic

For whatever reason, I seem to lack the discipline – or insight (or skills) – required to make anything anyone would want to actually use, although I do take delight in exploring new ways of combining existing applications and services to see how they might (in principle) work together…

…which is why I’m really fortunate to have Martin as an informal (and I hope not too put-upon!) network collaborator. Take the Hawkseyfied Guardian Tag Explorer for example, which takes a couple of half-baked hacks of mine and puts them together in a way that that allows you to get a mesoscopic view over how particular companies, individuals or news stories have been represented in the Guardian based on the Guardian OpenPlatform tag metadata used to describe the articles they are mentioned in, along with a summary of how many of the corresponding articles were tagged that way, what those articles actually were, and with a link to them:

Guardian tag explorer - via @mhawksey

Martin relates something of its genesis in (Guardian Tag Explorer: When the Guardian Open Platform met d3.js), describing a loosely coupled way of working we have stumbled upon that I think is highly creative, leads to potentially interesting innovations, and often results in incredibly useful – and powerful – recipes and building blocks. And all unfunded, at least in terms of bid for, planned project funding…

In addition, Martin’s been my goto person for all matters relating to Google Apps Script for quite some time now; has built up quite a suite of self-deployable Twitter archiving tools using Google Spreadsheets; and I still don’t understand why more folk haven’t picked up on how far he managed to push the idea of Twitter video subtitles.

I should also add that a lot of my thinking is inspired as a response to something that Martin has created, and that shines light on something that is possible that I’d have probably never considered before. So for example, looking at the reworked tag explorer above, it suggests to me that rather than linking out to the article, we could probably now just as easily pull the story text from the API and display it in-app…If I get a chance this weekend, I’ll try to explore that;-)

I would try to reflect a little on why our loose collaboration feels so productive (at least from my side, for the ideas it sparks, the cribs I can reuse, and the noticings Martin comes up with), but I don’t want to break it…! I think it does have something to do with loosely collaborating – in public, and often in real-time – on reactive unprojects, though, which are often inspired by one or the other of us noticing that has just been released or commented up elsewhere, reacting to something the other of us has said, responding to a question we’ve seen tweeted, or because we’ve wondered whether something is possible. And then just tried to do it. Or ask if the other has already done it! Without obligation. But often with the idea that if the other finds it interesting… (#hackbait ;-)

PS If you don’t follow Martin’s blog already, I suggest you start doing so. His recipes also tend to be far easier to follow (and less buggy!) than mine! MASHe.

Author: Tony Hirst

I'm a Senior Lecturer at The Open University, with an interest in #opendata policy and practice, as well as general web tinkering...

2 thoughts on “Guardian Tag Explorer, Take 2 – Martin Works Some Magic”

  1. “make anything anyone would want to actually use” that ones mainly a miss for me too as experiments like prove (although saying that the stuff I did with an instant-like interface for Google CSE was a big hit with a certain porn website ).

    Agree its a danger to over analyse our dynamic, let the good times roll!



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