Investigative apps are useful tools for journalists, if rough around the edges
is a BBC internet research specialist
Created by up-and-coming developers and enthusiasts on a budget, many of these programmes are rather unsophisticated, so don’t expect slick interfaces and 24-hour help desks.
That said, if you can get past the jargon and rough-and-ready feel, you’ll find nifty little apps that can help you discover nuggets of information which would be unavailable through conventional means.
Many alternatives are available and, while I’m not personally endorsing the programmes featured here, they can be useful tools. And in terms of BBC investigative journalism they’d have to be used according to our editorial guidelines:
This is a unique, rather clever programme, from developer Ioannis Kakavas. Cree.py plots Twitter, Flickr and Instagram posts on a map. Of course the person you are investigating will need to have shared their geographical information, but if you can get it to work Cree.py’s output can be very revealing. For instance, the patterns and clusters of my friend Robin’s Twitter activity (pictured above) reveals that he probably lives in Gillingham and works in White City, London. I can even see the route he takes to get home - simply from the timing and geographical location of his tweets. You can download Cree.py here.
In my next blog I’ll look at some useful browser add-ons.