CableWeaving workshop - talking points and links
CableGate and other journalistic treasures
is a library of 250,000 US diplomatic cables, 2003-2010
For comparison, the "Kissinger library" contains 1.7 million declassified documents
Other libraries http://mirror.wikileaks-press.org
Analysis tools for journalists (general purpose and library-specific)
Lots of processing was done specifically on CableGate
Why CableGate is the most researched library
- Cables are [more or less] structured information with rich meta-data
- A formally binding medium: Less chit-chat [than e.g. GIFiles], better signal/noise ratio
- "Big enough" but not "too big" - a prototype for Kissinger library :)
- Quite recent. Refers to events and people that are still relevant
How does a cable look like?
analysis using graph theory
Cables refer to each other: e.g.
decided to refer to the entire CableGate library as a huge graph where:
- Nodes are cables
- Edges are references (a directed graph - edges pointing backwards in time, but
cable2graph treats it as undirected for the sake of community clustering)
- Reference to a cable that isn't in the library is treated as a "missing cable",
and much can be learned from the cables refering to it. E.g.
Operations cable2graph performs
Can also perform other operations (e.g. neighbourhood graphs, TAGS), but it's out of the scope of this talk.
- It's still something humans do better than computers
- Requires heavy computation (not practical as a web service)
CableWeaver was created in order to address these problems.
CableWeaver - browser-side semi-manual graph layout
An attempt to make cable2graph findings more accessible to journalists and other non-technical researchers
Layout is computed on the browser.
- Static site. No computation on the server (less exposure to DoS attack).
- Instead of a long wait in front of an "hourglass" animation - user gets a psychedelic experience :)
- Semi manual intervention allows the software to reach "near optimal" results and trust the user to make it better if needed.
Basic user interaction
- click - Open cable in new tab
- Ctrl-click - Toggle whether cable is selected (part of the story line)
- Shift-click - Toggle manual/automatic layout
The first two operations can also be done from the timeline on the left
- Search for graphs by MRNs - (Message Reference Numbers, e.g.
08JAKARTA659): you can search for cables at PlusD
or other cablegate search engines.
E.g. a search for cables from
Israel containing wataniya returns
- Select a graph
- Examine graph
CableWeaving - sample story line repository
Let the audience choose story lines to display
How to collaborate on a story
- Codepen is friendly and responsive, but less suitable for long term collaboration (no merge, link sandboxing problems only partially solved)
- You can either create a gist from CableWeaver, or from codepen
- "Informal pull requests". Just tell me and maybe I'll merge your fork ;)
How to work on you scoop in secrecy
Install CableWeaver on your computer (avoid snooping):
- You can't export layout without "locking down" the story line (if you need to select/deselct cables, you'll also need to redo the layout).
- Nodes in story line pages are not links (you only see meta data on hover)
- Most journalists aren't comfy with html (or words like "fork").