September 25, 2017

This article originally appeared in Try This! — Tools for Journalism, our newsletter about digital tools. Want bite-sized news, tutorials and ideas about the best digital tools for journalism in your inbox every Monday? Sign up here.

Warren Buffett popped up out of a magazine to share advice. The National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. relocated to my desk. A tiny, emoji facsimile of me slurped down a cup of coffee on my bed. Artificial intelligence and augmented reality seemed to be everywhere this week.

ON MY RADAR: With the release of iOS 11, Apple has officially cast its giant, fiery gaze on augmented reality. The App Store already has a section highlighting available AR apps and they are… interesting. My colleague Nick and I downloaded out the Giphy AR app and were thoroughly amused but unimpressed.

ROBOTS RISING: Thinking about building a chat bot for your newsroom? The Quartz Bot Studio, which experiments “applications of bots, AI, and related technologies for journalism on new platforms,” tested the leading chat bots and found Dexter to be the best of them. P.S. My favorite chat bots are Poncho (“fun daily weather forecasts, delivered by a cat”) and Goldbot (“your personal L.A. food concierge who also happens to be the robot twin of our acclaimed food critic Jonathan Gold”). h/t Daniel Funke for that last one

SHORTCUT: I found myself opening TextEdit to take notes the other day instead of navigating to my usual hub, Google Drive. I realized that creating a new TextEdit file was a one-click process, while creating a new Google Doc was many more, and I was just being lazy. Or efficient. However you want to spin it. Like most productivity problems, there’s a solution for this. Bookmark this for one-click documents, this for spreadsheets and this for presentations. Or download and install this Chrome plugin. Easy peasy. 

TOOL TIP: Last week, Twitter took a leaping jump shot at adding some features to its iOS and Android apps that seem to mirror Nuzzel, a popular personalized news app. The new Twitter feature displays articles that people in your network are sharing. Here’s how to get to it on the app:

  1. Tap the magnifying glass
  2. Scroll past trends, moments and categories

I spent some time enjoying this feature a few days ago but, as I’m writing this, it seems to be missing. Hmm…

CRUNCHING NUMBERS: With debates about free speech and hate speech erupting at schools and public properties across the country, it was inevitable that someone would start to track them. Enter: Georgetown University. The esteemed D.C.-based school just launched a Free Speech Tracker with a map of controversies and oodles of details, including any outcomes, for each case.

BAD NEWS: Some people are great Instagrammers. I am not. My ethical aversion to filters and lack of an attention span really do me in. But this is a stressful time for the hardcore ‘grammers, as it looks like Instagram might increase its three-by-three grid format to a four-by-four. This is troubling for those who use multiple photos to make mosaics with the grid. I’ve never done that, either, but here’s how in case you’d like to give it a shot before it’s gone.

LAST WEEK: Think your story could use an accompanying video but lack the staff, skills or seconds to make it happen? Check out Playbuzz Story’s new video creator tool, which comes with a library of about a million Getty videos that you can use without paying anyone a cent. 

Local criminal justice data is hard to gather and harder to analyze. Luckily (at least if you’re in six states), Measures for Justice has done the hard work for you. I wrote about the database and was able to find a few story nuggets in just a few minutes.

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Ren LaForme is the Managing Editor of He was previously Poynter's digital tools reporter, chronicling tools and technology for journalists, and a producer for…
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