Author: Kristen Edwards

Edwards- Field Test

I chose a complicated issue for the FaceBook ChatBot assignment, so I am going to expand upon my bot for the field test. I want the bot to give users an understanding of the current political climate in the EU. With Brexit and the buzz around the French election, populism has become a term that has swirled around in the news media. The purpose of my bot is to adequately explain what populism means and why is it spreading.

To create my bot, I decided the best thing to do is start with a timeline. To explain populism, you have to start with events back in 2008. Then there’s a discussion of Brexit, Trump’s election and the French election that needs to occur to explain the full picture. Outlining this timeline of events helped me organize my thoughts.

I created all of my blocks concerning the 2008 economic crisis first. Then, I went to the AI section and thought of keywords that would help lead a user to those blocks. I did the same thing with each successive topic.

The first test was not good at all. I was clear that I had a through line of populism, but users who were learning about this topic for the first time would most likely have a difficult time navigating through my bot. Since people who have limited knowledge on populism is my intended audience, I had to think through a way to make it more user-friendly.

After tweaking a few things here and there with the AI, I ran a few more tests and finally discovered the solution was to lead the user more directly. Therefore, I directed users to each new topic/ block in the previous block. For example, my block about the winner of the French election says who wins. At the end of that, it says to ask the bot how much Macron won by. By doing this, a user will have a much easier time navigating through my topic.

(i.e.: Macron won the election! Ask me how much he won by!)

After I made this change, the bot still did not recognize some words, so I made a few tweaks. Now, I think it is pretty successful. However, it is not as intelligent as I would like it to be. It has a very prescriptive path from one block to the next as it takes you through the topic. I would have liked it to be more ‘intelligent’.

Overall, I think this chat bot is a simple tool that a user can easily use to understand a daunting topic. It is a singular source that houses all of the facts someone would find after conducting several internet searches. I think this technology would be great for news organizations who want to create a source of information on a given topic. Rather than having to read multiple articles over a long period of time on any given topic, the user could go to the bot and get all of the essential information to understand a topic. If the user wants more detail the bot could link to individual articles/ videos the organization has written/ produced.

For example, the bot would work really well for a news organization to explain all of the facts associated with the Trump/ Russia scandal. There are hundreds of articles associated with that topic that a user would have to sift through to understand the whole picture. A bot could help a user avoid losing important facts that may have gotten lost in the shuffle because they were written/ produced several months ago. Finding old articles sometimes requires an extensive search, so a bot would help users avoid that frustration. With a chat bot, all of the information would be in one place.

I think a bot would work very well for complicated issues. I hope to see news organizations utilize this technology in the future.

Link to MY bot:

Edwards- Vision Paper

I woke up with the sun again today. It rose at 5:45 AM. As it peeked over the horizon I could hear the sounds of the forest and smell the scent of fresh dew on the grass. But I am very far from any sort of trees. Deep in the crowded sidewalks of Manhattan is where I spend my days as a news reporter.

The forest I wake up to is like everything else in 2030… digital. Instead of the dry wall that covered the walls of my home a decade ago, all of my walls are screens that project anything I program into them. Now, it is the forest. Smells of my choosing are pumped throughout my apartment throughout the day. Lately, it has been Shimmering Pine from Yankee Candle. You know, to go with the dewey, forest theme. Last month it was the volcano candle from Anthropologie to go with my Hawaiian beach theme.

As I sat up in bed I took note of the pitter patter of rain against my window. I asked Alexa, yes she’s still here, to give me an hourly weather forecast for the day. She has become incredibly concise over the years. She knows exactly how I like her to answer: quickly and without unnecessary filler words. She also knows my schedule. I’ll leave my apartment at 7:45AM. I’ll be in morning meetings until 10AM. Then I’ll be out reporting until 3:30PM. I’ll leave work for my commute home at 7:00PM. Taking this into account, she says, “7:45- 8:45 rain. 10-3:30, rain then clear at 2. 7:00- 8:00 clear, but cold. A light rain jacket will do for the day.” I thank her as she scrolls through my online closet interface for a rain jacket. I’ve been browsing the rain jacket selection at lately, so she rented one that I looked at the longest and poof! It was teleported to my closet and ready for pick up. A drone lifts the rain jacket out of the portal, flies across my apartment and sets it on a stool next to the front door.

I almost ran into the drone yesterday. It’s so quiet and small that I forget it’s there and have a hard time avoiding it mid-flight. It’s all because Alexa is so attentive to my needs that sometimes I even forget what I’ve asked her… and her drone… to do.  Amazon is working on the drone software to make collisions less frequent. The drone usually doesn’t detect a human until it’s a couple feet away. Thankfully it hasn’t run into me yet. Some of my friends have had it hit them, but it’s so small that it really doesn’t hurt them. A little cut is all. Maybe if I moved into an apartment with taller ceilings that would help.

Next, I told Alexa that I wanted to be comfortable, but trendy for the day. After a few seconds, she pulls up an array of options on my closet interface. I scrolled through and found a couple pieces that I liked. Alexa has gotten very creative with outfits, but she hasn’t grasped my style quite yet. I had to mix and match a blouse with pants and shoes from a couple different outfits. Once I selected “deliver”… poof! My outfit lay right in front of me and ready to be worn.

The jewelry and makeup package was out of my price range so I have to sift through my physical collection on the closet shelves. When I walked out of my kitchen, Jeeves was already making breakfast. Jeeves is a metallic gold color and doesn’t come close to resembling a human. He has arms, a head and a torso, but no legs or skin or anything else. I’ve seen some that look identical to humans, but that really freaks me out. Jeeves is perfect. And he knows how to fry a mean egg.

By the time I sit down to my kitchen island, my breakfast is plated and ready to be eaten. Jeeves also helps to keep my apartment clean. Sometimes I have buyer’s remorse because Jeeves is just an excuse for me to be lazy. All I really need is Alexa and her drone. BUT I splurged for the $10,000 robot and here we are. As I eat my breakfast, my ‘pump up’ playlist is already playing. Thank, Alexa! Five minutes before I leave, she scrolls through the news headlines to help me prepare for my work day. As soon as she’s done, I step out of my window into my car. Yes, there are flying cars.

The transition from ground-based cars to flying was very strenuous. The government couldn’t get it together with the regulations and laws. They ended up deciding on a 2-year transition period. Everyone in the U.S. had two years to trade their cars in for a flying car. As you can imagine, those two years were a disaster. More news for me to report on, though!

As I hop in, I am quickly vaulted to 50 feet above the height of the Empire State Building. Up here is where all the traffic is now. We don’t have to worry about too many planes these days though. Most people teleport. I’m not brave enough to try it, but some swear by it. I’ll stick to commercial flights for now.

It’s a quick 5-minute commute to work. Ten years ago it would have been an hour by car. With the invention of flying, automated cars, however, the word ‘traffic’ has become obsolete. My car drops me off on the 15th floor of my office building and quickly descends to its underground parking spot.

I walked into the newsroom and made it over to my station. My station consists of a floating interface and a stool. I like to do most of my work standing because it keeps me engaged. Everyone else in the newsroom feels the same. The walls of the building are the same as my apartment. They project our competitors’ news channels and they also house our server. My floating interface is where I do all of my editing. It is all touch screen and most of the tools are enabled with voice commands. I scroll through my FaceBook to see what is trending on social media. Social media is now limited to FaceBook these days. Every time a new platform becomes popular, FaceBook buys it. It has become much more trendy in the past few years. At first, people were upset about its propensity to buy everything in sight. Now, they have managed to become the best platform you could imagine. They have taken pieces of every platform they’ve taken over and incorporated them into their sleek, user-friendly design.

Next, I head to my morning meeting where my story was assigned. I video chat with my sources to get a better idea of the story and what to expect for the day. Soon, I’m hopping out the window into my car and heading off to the story. When I get there, I pull out my cell phone and begin to record b-roll. Cell phone cameras are now the best in the industry. Lugging around giant cameras are a thing of the past. I did bring along a small tripod to help me stabilize my images, though. As soon as I’m finished, I’m recording live videos and teases on FaceBook for my thousands of viewers. My interviews are quick and easy and I am ready to edit. I brought my interface with me and put the package together within 30 minutes. At 4PM sharp I was live fronting my package for everyone in the NYC market.

Every channel in the market now tunes into our newscast at 4PM every day. Every TV in the US is automatically turned on and tuned to their market’s TV stations. It’s been this way since the Era of Fake News and Misinformation. That was a dark period for our country. The spreading of fake news was becoming so popular that it was indistinguishable from real news. It launched us into war with citizens rioting in the streets. Fake news stories about Congressmen committing horrific crimes and the President engaging in illegal activities was the absolute tipping point. It took a long time for the country to get back on track, but in an effort to never allow fake news to be spread any longer, the President signed an executive order that allowed news channels in every market to take over broadcasting from 4-6PM.

In an effort to still keep the news organizations accountable, each TV owner can decide which TV station they would like to be tuned into in their market. My station is one of four in the area. We have half of the city tuning into us every day. That is the maximum viewership we are able to have under the new FCC rules. For now, this system is keeping the peace and as a credible journalist, I am making sure that we are reporting the truth fully. I’m not sure how I feel about this new normal. We will see if it remains positive in its purpose to educate the public.

After the newscast from 4-5, the national news takes over. I head back home in my flying car to meet up with Jeeves. I asked him to have a salmon dish waiting for me when I get home. I can’t wait!

Edwards- Assignment 5

One of the sensors on sparkfun is the alcohol gas sensor:  It operates like a breathalyzer in that it can calculate someone’s BAC based on their breath. This particular sensor has high sensitivity and fast response time. In a journalism story, you could get permission from a police department to put these in the back of police cars. Since they are tiny, they would be easy to disguise in the back of the car. Then, you could measure the correlation of arrests with alcohol. How many of those arrested were drinking prior to their arrest? Does the severity of the alleged crime have anything to do with amount of alcohol consumption? I think these results could be interesting.

Assignment 4- Edwards

Drones are already woven into the TV news industry. My understanding is that drones are utilized more at the network/ national level. In the future, however, I imagine there will be much more activity in local news. I can also imagine that being drone pilot certified may start popping up in the ‘preferred qualifications’ section on MMJ and videographer job postings. After our session with Thom McLean, however, it does worry me that local news stations may push harder to use them in live breaking news coverage in the future. Thom was very clear about the dangers that come with flying a drone, and I worry about the pressure reporters will potentially have to use them on as many stories possible. I guess we will have to wait and see what happens!

Lynda Requirement- Edwards

I watched the Lynda tutorial “Data Visualization Storytelling Essentials” because I felt like it fit well into my goal of becoming a TV news journalist. I wanted to know how I could best display data for stories I will work on in the future.

I learned several things through the course. The first, most influential idea was to work with my hands and sketch out my visualization. Because I wanted to do my final project on Trump, this was essential for me to do. There were so many facets of his campaign and his time in office that I could tackle, so I was overwhelmed with the data I had access to. I sat down and thought through a range of topics.

At first, I had a few completely different ideas than what I ended up with. I was thinking about things that would not be the best to visualize and ideas that weren’t related to each other enough. After I wrote down topic ideas, however, I circled the ones that were best related to each other and the ones I thought would be best for data. This pre-planning was the best time I spent on this project. Afterwards, I knew exactly what I wanted to do and it was full steam ahead!

Another important lesson from the course was that my project should have elements of storytelling and interactivity. First, I started thinking about storytelling with my list of topics I wanted to pursue. Do they tell one, cohesive story? Well, no. Not at first. After thinking it through, I realized that the story I could tell was his first 100 days in office. It’s an important milestone that’s constantly mentioned in the media, and Trump himself, so I picked that as my focus. Next, I thought about interactivity. They related the idea to ‘progressive depth’. Essentially, allowing a viewer to go deeper if they want to learn more. Keeping this in mind, I decided to go with a searchable, sortable table. This way, viewers can see the first 25 listings, but if they want to search for a certain item, they could go deeper.

I also learned that the way to attract an audience best is by using data that lends itself to personalization. By choosing Donald Trump as a topic, I thought that this would be of interest to many people! His policy proposals affect so many Americans, so data about him will be of interest (I hope!)

Lastly, the lesson about ‘eye candy’ was my favorite! It talked about making your data pretty without straying from fact or purpose– a tenant of TV news, too. This helped cement the fact that I wanted to do the Knight Lab timeline. I loved it when we were first introduced to it in class, and I felt that was a great tool to visualize the data I was looking at. Since it is the most visually appealing, I put it first to reel in a viewer.

This course really helped me think through the tools I would want to use and how to use them for my final project. With this course in mind, my final project ended up looking like this:

Final Project: Edwards

Here is a link to my final project:

Assignment 3- Edwards

My chat bot will help users navigate the recent rise toward populism in the EU! Starting with the financial crisis in 2008 through to the French election, my chat bot explains it. I may be using this for my field test, so it will get much more detailed. It’s an incredibly complicated topic as anyone can imagine! Enjoy:

Assignment 2- Edwards

Star Trek predicted the cell phone. They were called ‘communicators’ in the series, but they are essentially the cordless (“landline-less”) cell phone of today. Here’s a video of them using it in the original series: Due to copyright violations, there’s no audio but you get the idea without it!

3D video interests me the most. I have been intrigued by the New York Times’ use of it recently. When we first learned how to use it in class, I was amazed by how simple the videos were to produce! I envisioned a much more involved approach than simply pressing a button to record. I thought you had to rotate the camera at the very least! Because of this, it’s my favorite technology.

I intend on using it in my field test. Originally, I was thinking about getting video of vacant homes in Syracuse, but then thought that may be a bit stagnant. BUT they are constantly doing demolition on these homes, so I wanted to do a ‘before and after’ or contrast the eery ‘nothing-ness’ of one vacant home with the intense energy of a demolition of another. Either way, these homes have great potential for video that the average person doesn’t typically get a behind-the-scenes perspective on.

Edwards- Assignment 1

This project has been very interesting to say the least. My 3D model was successful, but I’m not too pleased with my model below. I changed all of the colors in Tinkerfab and that didn’t seem to survive the exporting process! After seeing my original 3D model in Tinkerfab, I noticed that my “power stance” came across pretty well! That informed my decision to create a statue from my model. I don’t know if I necessarily deserve to be made into a statue, but here it is! I wanted to add another element so I inserted some text. The thing that currently defines me is that I am an MMJ in training! If the colors had transferred, it would be a little easier to read.

This technology will change information sharing immensely. Information is no longer limited to the confines of a textbook or document. For tactile learners, this is an amazing concept. For example, Makerspace printed graphs to help a blind student learn concepts in his economics class better! This technology is truly amazing and, if used properly, will really help improve information sharing.


Kristen Edwards 3D Model
by kristen5678
on Sketchfab

Project Proposal Edwards

I am hoping to tell the story of Donald Trump’s first few months of his Presidency. I am going to highlight the most significant topics of conversation: Russian hacking scandal, Trump’s Twitter habits, and his favorability ratings.

I plan on using data acquired from the NYTimes to put together a timeline on Timeline.js. The timeline will show how the Russian scandal has progressed. I would also look at Trump’s Twitter followers since that has been his main method of getting information out to the country. I will use Mapbox to show how they are geographically distributed in the US. Finally, I will visualize his favorability ratings using Infogram. This data will be collected from RealClearPolitics.

There aren’t too many unknowns other than never having used Mapbox. I will need to educate myself on how to create maps through this new site! If this doesn’t work out, my plan B would be to use Google Maps since I am very well acquainted with it. Then, I would watch a Lynda tutorial that would help me improve one of the other two visualizations to satisfy the ‘learning a new skill on my own’ requirement.