Hacking their way toward journalism’s future

I was going to try to write up last night’s Hacks/Hackers meeting at Microsoft’s Cambridge headquarters. But I can’t do any better than Kyle Psaty, who covers it for the BostInnovation blog. Hosted by Matt Carroll of the Boston Globe, the gathering brought together about 75 journalists and technology folks. What follows are just a couple of quick observations.

Fernanda Viégas and Martin Wattenberg of Flowing Media showed off a new data-presentation tool taking campaign-finance information from MapLight.org and slicing and dicing it in a number of different ways. Interesting, though the tools Viégas and Wattenberg demo’d struck me as a little exotic. Globe technology reporter Hiawatha Bray was very excited, so I’m sure those more technologically adept than I will find uses for it.

Somewhat more down-to-earth was a project called Pinyadda, a website that combines journalism, community and social networking. Based on the presentation made by Austin Gardner-Smith, the Boston-based company’s vice president for product and development, Pinyadda may be groping its way toward a just-right space between Digg (too dumb) and NewsTrust (too hard). I’m hoping to find the time to play with it and see for myself.

I learned a few things, met some interesting people, ate some free pizza — what more can you ask for?