After being awarded a two-year Knight Foundation grant, journo-programmer maximus Adrian Holovaty has launched the highly anticipated EveryBlock.com, a site dedicated to gathering as much data about communities as possible. Holovaty has often preached about viewing the news as data. Well folks, you’re lookin at it.
(NOTE: Poynter’s Al Tompkins has posted an interview with Adrian about EveryBlock here.)
EveryBlock features news stories, crime reports, user photos, business inspections and a whole lot more, all geocoded and highly organized. The navigation style is reminiscent of ChicagoCrime.org, which means it’s highly browseable and not dependent on search fields and dropdown menus.
What’s awesome about EveryBlock is the sheer amount of data that’s being collected and aggregated. You can spend quite a while jumping fluidly from one kind of data to another. And, the effort it must’ve taken to acquire all of the site’s data in an automated fashion is a big achievement in itself.
However, I notice something that I’ve also encountered in my work on Orlando-area neighborhood pages and data features: It’s tough to put all of that data into context and provide more historical information such as a community’s history, landmarks and evolving story. For instance, having a highly detailed view of crimes in a neighborhood is really cool, but how does my neighborhood compare to another? How is crime in the neighborhood trending? That’s going to be the next big challenge for news organizations who want to do features such as this.
Nevertheless, EveryBlock is an awesome effort that bears close study. It’s a tremendous exercise in how to aggregate huge amounts of news data and organize it in a digestible fashion. Sigh, if only newspaper sites were as well organized as this…