|Jesie Hart, via Flickr (CC license)|
|Matt Waite, you owe me a drink. At least one.|
So today I downloaded and installed Django, the web framework that apparently is one key to creating kick-ass data-driven sites. Adrian Holovaty just wrote a book about it (due out in September, I’ve pre-ordered it). Smart web developers and database geeks who really grasp the value of relevant journalistic information keep raving to me about it.
And then Matt Waite of the St. Petersburg Times, reporter-turned-geek who’s one of the lead developers of the data-driven presidential campaign truth squad site Politifact.com, had to go write this:
“PolitiFact was born when St. Petersburg Times Washington Bureau Chief Bill Adair called me in very late May with an idea he had. He wanted to take the â€œtruth squadâ€ idea and expand it. And he wondered if we could somehow use databases with this idea. He didnâ€™t know how we could do that, just that we should, and that was why he was calling me. I was knee deep in learning Django, the rapid development web framework, and immediately knew we could use Django to make this happen. Based on our conversation, I quick sketched out a series of related tables â€” models in Django parlance â€” and PolitiFact was born.
“Learning Django has been a transformative experience for me. PolitiFact is the first Django app Iâ€™ve completed, and it wonâ€™t be the last. Not even close. Before this, Iâ€™d never developed a website before â€” I donâ€™t count installing WordPress on a hosting account as developing a website â€” or done anything in Python.
“Learning Django was a challenge for someone like me with no programming experience, but the framework puts incredible abilities into your hands once you learn what you are doing. The documentation is a truly remarkable resource: It is a monument to itâ€™s quality that 98 percent of PolitiFact comes from the documentation.”
Damn you, Matt Waite, I felt like such a coward after I read that. It haunted me. There have been too many times when I’ve hidden behind “I’m not a programmer” and found geeks for hire, rather than knuckling down and learning one truly geeky (rather than semi-geeky) tool that would allow me to apply my own data-driven creativity directly. So today I broke down and downloaded and installed Django. And it’s all your %^*%&^ fault, Matt Waite. I hope you’re proud of yourself.
Of course, I’ll be blogging my learning curve with Django — something that will take time and courage. I’m sure I’ll make a lot of stupid mistakes I’ll be forced to fess up to, and I don’t enjoy looking stupid more than anyone else. Well, if I can deal with it, so can all of you. I figure if I’m going to goad people into learning new online skills, I should be willing to take my own medicine — and then some.
So I’m officially a Django newbie.
And Matt, I’d say you owe me one helluva drink. I’ll Be in St. Pete. Sept. 16-17 for a Poynter seminar. Pencil me in. And be prepared to hear me gripe.