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2020-02-17 | J++ Newsletter #87

Welcome pandas 1.0

Yes, it is a bit nerdy to celebrate but we have to start this newsletter by mentioning that pandas, The Python Library for manipulating and analysing data, has finally - after 12 years - reached version 1.0. There are some interesting new features in pandas 1.0. We especially like the idea of  the new (experimental) data types for strings (bye bye object-dtype!), booleans and NaNs (see you later NaN, np.nan and pd.NaT?!). Read more about the release here.

Introducing Spinal Map

Have you ever wanted to create maps for heavy reading? Look no further - ThunderForest is your friend.

TechReview investigates OpenAI

Karen Hao at TechReview has spent 6 months looking into OpenAI, the "nonprofit" research organisation funded by Elon Musk and Sam Altman, among others. Since its inception, OpenAI has pushed a public image of itself as transparent and working for the public good in the AI space, raising questions about the social implications of AI. In her article, Hao shows that the organisation in fact is very secretive and that the public image seems to be nothing more than a pretty mirage.
“They are using sophisticated technical practices to try to answer social problems with AI,” echoes Britt Paris of Rutgers. “It seems like they don’t really have the capabilities to actually understand the social. They just understand that that’s a sort of a lucrative place to be positioning themselves right now.”

In the news

Where did all the millennials go? SVT visualised how the population distribution by age has changed in Sweden's municipalities over the last 20 years. We really like the scrolly-bot helping us interpret what we're seeing. But we are a bit confused by the graphs - why, for instance, are they grouped by birth year rather than age? Anyway, the topic is very interesting and is often overlooked in the fast-pace world of journalism - have a look for yourself here.

Remember when media outlets were reporting on the sudden dramatic increase in Corona cases? Part of the explanation was a change in how patients are diagnosed. If you want to know the details, these two twitter threads could be a good place to start: @S_Rabinovitch and @GlennLuk.

The App has had a rough couple of weeks. We've had the story of the U.S. election in Iowa and the app that broke it. In Norway, the final vote in the national Eurovision contest (Melodi grand prix) was broken by 38 million emojis. And, to end on a more serious note, in Israel the entire voter registry was leaked due to non-existing authentication. Will the App be able to recover from this?

Which families can afford to sign up their children for sporting activities? SVT Nyheter Norrbotten combined statistics with a local survey to try and answer that question.

Upcoming events

In the first newsletter of the year we provided a list of upcoming events. We would like to add the 4th European Data & Computational Journalism conference (DatajConf) to that list as some of us might be there. In case you missed our previous list, you can find it here.
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