A firehose of knowledge blasted through a garden sprinkler

This year’s NICAR conference will feature lightning talks: a series of rapid-fire presentations given by you on a mix of subjects selected by you. It’s called democracy, folks, and we want you to be part of it.

How does this work? It’s simple: Register an account to vote on the talks you’d like to hear. Or better yet, propose one yourself! It can be on technology or techniques — just about anything, really. There’s just one rule: It can’t be one second longer than 5 minutes.

OK, actually two rules: You must attend NICAR to vote or, obviously, give a talk. But that’s about all there is to it.

If you have questions, or problems with the site, drop an email to aron@nytimes.com.

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How to count crowds

It's up to us -- reporters who can do math -- to bring wildly inflated crowd counts down to size. I'll show how easy it is to make a realistic estimate of the crowd at your city's next championship parade, political rally or protest march.

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What not to map

Everybody loves maps (right?), but they are far too often misleading, confusing, or straight up wrong. I'll show some misleading maps, and then some alternative visualizations of the same data. Also, some examples of effective maps and discussion of what makes them work.

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Famous dead nerds

Attention nerds of the present: did you know much of our lingo comes from the names of famous people? I'll look things up on wikipedia and then give a summary (just like high school). There will be crazy facial hair and silly hats (at NICAR and in my talk).

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SDR (Software Defined Radio) in the newsroom

How to use a $25 USB TV antenna to make a police / fire scanner using software-defined radio, and some open source tools.

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Old MacDonald's (data, map, app) farm

Think the Farm Bill is off your beat? Think again! These obscure data sets, maps and apps will help you better cover agribusiness and the stories stemming from the new $1 trillion farm bill.

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Fun with CUSIPs

A quick talk on how to chop up CUSIPs to identify the riskiest bit of a bond offering, map it to its owners, figure out what a CUSIP means just by looking at it, when the Fed might buy it, and other neat tricks for working with Wall Street's most important security identifier.

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Friends don't let friends do data dumps

You've all seen it. HTML tables that are so big readers have no idea how to make sense of it. We all know how powerful data can be (that's why we're heading to NICAR) but the high volume of numbers means we have to decide how much of it we put online. Too much and the data may intimidate. Too little and your story may not paint the whole picture. Let's talk about what's engaging for readers and when we run the risk of information overload.

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NICAR Time Machine

Photos of today's hottest data journalists and news application nerds before they were stars! A full five minutes of the good, the better, the hilarious.

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Open data may be the future. Until then, we need journalists.

One day, every local, county, state and federal agency will publish petabytes of regularly updated, well documented, structured feeds of public data on the open web. For now though, the most important step in any data project is good, old-fashioned shoe leather beat reporting. I'll talk about how to develop sources in government agencies and cajole them into telling you where the data is buried.

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How to use Github to commit journalism

In some newsrooms, the task of building interactive graphics and news apps can be an afterthought, happily consigned to the specialists in the basement. I'll show you how the data team at Project Thunderdome harnesses the power of Github Issues to seduce diehard word nerds to explore data journalism and dabble in the interactive arts.

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5 EPSG Codes That Propagate the Imperialist Agenda

4324 4326 4327 4328 4329 http://twitter.com/PostPostGIS

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Refactoring; or Why Your Code Sucks and How to Fix It

Lost in your own code? Forgot what that variable does? Coworkers throwing books at you? Never fear! In five minutes I'll teach you three principles that will turn your shoddiest hacks into elegant, self-explanatory wonders.

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Then the data turned back into people

Some failures change the way you think. There was this dataset. It felt essential to the story. I tried every form I know to make it visual. In the end, portraits did that job. This is my short and sad story about numbers, science and why my new holy grail is finding a way to bring data and the people they represent closer together.

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Noob Scraping

Don't know Python or Ruby? Life isn't hopeless. Quickly learn how to extract data from the web using import.io, a pretty good tool for pulling structured data without any programming! My example: Creating a database of the 10,000+ child care centers in Texas.

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Kill your ArcGIS (or: Spatial analysis as a science!)

Ditch your ArcGIS or QGIS workflow. Step up your game with reproducible, document-able familiar SQL commands that will do the spatial analysis heavy lifting for you. PostGIS is your new best friend.

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Poaching unicorns

We say journalism needs unicorns -- people who have backgrounds in both journalism and coding. Yet, universities and news organizations are discouraging journalism unicorns. Why are we so uncomfortable with people who don't fit in our pre-determined journalist or coder boxes? Let's talk about what universities and news organizations are doing to poach unicorns and how we can stop the bloodshed.

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What we can learn from terrible data viz

Pie charts that add up to 110 percent! Graphs so three-dimensional, they could be drawn by M. C. Escher! Anything from the NSA slides! You may think you'll never commit data viz sins like these, but you might come closer than you think. I'll show some of the silliest, most nonsensical visualizations on the web and talk about how they can teach us to present data accurately.

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DataViz = Fact-checking

DataViz shouldn't be the last thing you do for a project. Learn how designing and building data visualizations early can help you find missing pieces, catch errors in your data, and be your new fact-checking best friend.

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Detecting What Isn't There

How ProPublica reverse engineered one company's API to catch censorship in China. Learn how important it can be to pay attention to error messages, and the challenges we faced when trying to fly under the radar.

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Getting all data without asking

Companies hide their data treasures from you. I'll show how to get them from their maps, forms and especially smartphone apps. It's like scraping, but easier (no programming). If you are a pro, lets say this is "Hidden API reloaded"

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Supernatural strategies for hackathon success

In the dark midwestern winter, I was visited by the ghosts of great journalists and geeks. Here's what they taught me about hackathons and collaboration! Here's the slides: https://www.dropbox.com/s/63yoqq0tgwgn2w3/supernatural%20strategies%20lightning%20talk%20nicar%202014.pdf

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Programming Art: Sol LeWitt

What does it mean to make art as a series of instructions that can be executed even after the artist's death? This is what I've learned about art and programming from Sol LeWitt.

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Is this the Holodeck for Journalism!?

No. What are you high? That said, technology like Augmented Reality is not longer a sci-fi dream or a cheesy Holloywood gimmick. It's real and in your back pocket. Learn more and explore using it for journalism.

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I got shut down by the federal government for flying a drone and you can too!

Ever nearly piss yourself thinking of Gitmo while reading a scary letter from the federal government? It's AWESOME. Hear about where we are and how 2014 is going to be a big year if you have dreams of using your own flying robots for journalism.

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Faster web app building with Grunt and Bower

Grunt and Bower are two node.js modules that make building web applications easy peasy. This talk will discuss what these tools are, how they're used, and some common plugins that aid in the development process.

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C.S. for Satire

How Slate.com uses code to ridicule the silliest things in politics and culture, including gerrymandering, Carlos Danger, Starbucks, The Great Gatsby, and Google Glass.

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Using a drone to spy on a state legislator

Last year, we used a drone to spy on a state legislator. What are the technical, meteorological, legal and ethical constraints on such a project? See raw footage of the surveillance.

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Github Pages as a Content Management System

Can you write a book on Github? Christopher Gandrud did! Can you host a blog on Github? With Octopress, hundreds have! Slideshows? Ramnath Vaidyanathan made it simple! Github Pages is my CMS and I'll help you make it yours.

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Five (more) algorithms in five (more) minutes

A sequel to last year's lightning talk about crazy algorithms from math and computer science that can make us better journalists -- this time featuring: metric trees (for cleaning sloppy company names); useful examples of MapReduce; and much more. Once again, code and practical examples will be made available on Github. Special guest star, Dolph Lundgren.

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Data Loading: Worst Practices

Let's confess our sins and admit to ourselves that we have all done these terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad things when trying to parse, transform and load datasets into our news applications.

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Natural Language Processing in the kitchen

How the LA Times used NLP to extract thousands of recipes out of the archives, and how you can use it creatively clean a data set.

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A Very NICAR Sing-along

Strummin' and singin' the dulcet sounds of data journalism with Chris Keller

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You Must Learn

Five lessons from data journalism history. Filled with straight-up facts ‒ no mystery.

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How to Raise an Army

I spent a quarter at Northwestern getting my fellow students interested in the web. I'll talk about what worked and what didn't, and how we can get more people doing journalism better on the web.

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The whole internet in 5 minutes!

Do you want to learn about the intricacies of the internet in a single, five-minute-long, run-on sentence? OF COURSE! Will he finish all 172 slides? WHO KNOWS? Let's do this!

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The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act

... and what it means for you.

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A Few of My Favorite Wee Things

Mini maps and tiny text and fun-size charts. Learn why the biggest trend in data visualization is small, and how you can use wee things to super-size your next interactive.

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Practical Calculus

Three equations useful for journalists.

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