Category Archives: Links

Interactive: Des Moines Register’s game like feature story


The Des Moines Register recently produced an interactive feature called Harvest of Change. Designed with Oculus Rift in mind, the newspaper partnered with Gannet Digital to “to tell the story of an Iowa farm family using emerging virtual reality technology and 360-degree video.

The first of this five part series makes the user explore the farm to find icons that tell fragments of the story and unlock extras through special objects hidden in the scenario.

It wasn’t a thrilling experience for me, and though they add a 360º video to download, its 1.2 gb are taking too long.

Update: After downloading the file, we can watch a 360º video intro that will lead us to the farm setting and instead of pics  – like we have in the Des Moines Register website – we have videos. The navigation is a bit buggy though, and it sent me back to the intro more than once.

Probably the full series will be worth it, and this is definitely a great effort to bring virtual reality into news games and storytelling. But after unlocking all the photos and going through all the icons I can’t remember the story.

Was I too focused in the goal that somehow forgot to learn? This is a risk with this type of narratives. It must have some sort of challenge to be engaging:

“Games are about decision making, about consequences of actions. And while you are playing, you are picking up facts, pieces of the puzzle, learning tactics, because you have to, and want to, in order to progress to the next level.”

News as games: Immoral or the future of Interactive Journalism?

Maybe we’ll meet the farm boss in part 5. Until then, let’s stroll around and see what we can find.


7 anos a blogar

Faz hoje sete anos anos que comecei um blog, que primeiro era sobre nada, depois era sobre comunicação e acabou por ser sobre jornalismo online.

Estes sete anos foram os mais importantes da minha vida, e tiveram tanto de sucessos como de fracassos e dificuldades.O blog abriu-me portas que de outra forma nunca se abririam e, por outro lado, fechou-me algumas pelas quais também não queria entrar.

Não tenho escrito ultimamente muito sobre o tema que me trouxe até aqui porque estou farto. Não tenho fé nenhuma no panorama jornalístico nacional, nem nas estratégias e objectivos que regem os projectos que por aí andam. Vi e falei de muitos que, na sua maioria, falharam. Outros tiveram algum sucesso, mas quase nenhuns eram revolucionários e eficazes. Alguns que realmente o foram, falharam na mesma.

O jornalismo para mim esgotou-se porque, como bem me lembraram na última entrevista de emprego a que fui, tenho 36 anos e pouca experiência de redacção. Eu também não sou jornalista, sou outra coisa, que não tem espaço nesta lógica.

Tenho trabalhado em Comunicação de Ciência e a dar formação  em comunicação digital, mais virada para o lado empresarial. Aprendi muito nas duas e é isso que gosto de fazer: aprender. Infelizmente, aprender não mete comida na mesa.

Ao fim de sete anos não me arrependo de nada a não ser não me ter ido embora de Portugal de vez.  Mas ainda vou a tempo. Sinto que estou no fim de um ciclo, tanto de objectivos profissionais como pessoais.

Apesar de ter voltado basicamente ao mesmo ponto onde estava há sete anos, apesar dos pesos extra que arrecadei na minha vida, sinto que estou mais rico e melhor. Não em dinheiro, não em qualidade de vida, mas como pessoa e como profissional.

Olhando para o que escrevi ao longo destes anos, acho que não me enganei em relação ao futuro (agora presente), e já nem ligo a certas discussões sobre o tema porque para mim já não fazem sentido: há quem ainda viva em 2007, eu sempre estive mais à frente.

A todos os que me acompanharam ao longo deste percurso e me deram o seu apoio, o meu muito obrigado. Não sei o que se vai passar a seguir mas, como disse Kundera, “o que for, será.”

Vejam a minha página pessoal para contactos, perfis online e CV.



The Verification Handbook: verifying UGC for emergency coverage

I’ll just copy/paste the press release:

The European Journalism Centre (EJC) has released the Verification Handbook, the first ever guide for using user-generated content (UGC) during humanitarian emergencies.

Whether it is debunking images of ‘street sharks’ during Hurricane Sandy, or determining the veracity of videos that depict human rights abuses, reporting the right information is critical in shaping responses from the public and relief workers as a crisis unfolds.

By providing the exact methods needed to validate information, photos and videos shared by the crowd, the Verification Handbook forms an essential component of any organisation’s disaster preparedness plan.

The Verification Handbook draws on the experiences of practitioners from some of the world’s premier news and aid organisations, including BBC, Storyful, The Guardian, ABC, Buzzfeed UK, NHK, Poynter Institute, Digital First Media, the Tow Center, GigaOM, the Qatar Foundation’s Computing Research Institute (QCRI), the Internews Center for Innovation & Learning, OpenStreetMap, Amnesty International, Circa, Meedan, the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC), WITNESS, the Dart Centre Europe, and Shabab Souria.

An online version of Verification Handbook is available for free at, and a PDF, Kindle and Print version will be released on 7 February. An Arabic version of the Handbook will also be released soon thereafter.

The initiative is financed by the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, as well as by the African Media Initiative (AMI), and supported by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Ethical Journalism Network (EJN), Humanity Road and many other organisations.

Twitter hashtag: #emjo

Did I mention it’s free?

Authors of amazing Interactive Doc “Hollow” explain how they did it

When I started going through “Hollow” (can’t find a better verb, “watching” is not what I did) I was amazed with the amount of elements it has. Imagine a dynamic collage of audio, stills, images, data and video, divided in six different chapters, each one including short but deep, well crafted video stories.

In a nutshell, it’s a story about the rise and fall of McDowell County, West Virginia, USA. The remaining inhabitants of this now decadent area show their lives in this empty land, while making ends meet and trying to resurrect their towns.

Its makers, Director and Producer Elaine McMillion, Sound Designer Billy Wirasnik, Technical Director and Senior Developer Robert Hall and Art Director/Designer and Architect Jeff Soyk, held  a Hangout where they talked about this project, their sucesses and failures.

I’d like to highlight Billy Wirasnik’s advice : “Don’t forget about sound!”. This project relies a lot in natural soundscapes and music tracks, which adds a whole new dimension to the story. Try it without sound and you’ll see what I mean.

Another thing you should notice is that you have to watch some videos to unlock extra  features. It’s a way to reward the users who explore the most.

There is a lot to learn from the mechanics and looks of this interactive doc, especially the mix of still and dynamic visual elements, pushed forward by html5/css3/js cogwheels, and the awesome video narrative.  A must “scroll through” (?!?).

Check out Elaine McMillion’s blog to watch the Hangout videos and access the links they mentioned and other assorted tools and tips for storytellers.

Here’s the trailer for “Hollow”:

Portfolio – Invasive plants Interactive map

One of the goals I set for the science communication  project where I was working was to build some interactive features. I built this phenological calendar and, more recently, an interactive map.

This map shows the origins of the most important invasive plant species in Portugal, and some Portuguese native plants that are invasive in other regions. It’s a simple, straightforward project , directed to a younger audience.

I used two different tools to build this. The navigation and content support is taken from the Fullscreen Pageflip Layout, as seen on Codrops, one of the most inspiring websites I ever came across, and a must follow. I made a concession here, because I’m not a huge fan of flipping pages on a screen, but I felt it worked better that way. It all works with HTML5&CSS3 plus Javascript wizardry.

The map was built with amMaps, a Javascript library package, that had just the right solution for this. I must send a shout out for their impeccable support, they were just awesome. Their maps can be used in so many different ways it made me want to use amMaps again for other projects. Try them out, and look at amCharts too. As a Javascript noob I thought it would be more complicated, but it was easier than I expected to build the map.

The flags’ sections were handmade by me and I got to apply some CSS expertise. One thing that I learned though, not all flags have the same proportions: some are wider than others. Go figure.

If you missed the two links to the map at the top, follow this one, and let me know what you think about it.