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Beautiful Visualization by Julie Steele, Noah Iliinsky

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Chapter 15. This Was 1994: Data Exploration with the NYTimes Article Search API

Jer Thorp

IN FEBRUARY OF LAST YEAR, the New York Times announced that it was giving away the keys to 28 years of data—news stories, movie reviews, obituaries, and political statistics, all for free. Staring at such a huge pile of information—about 2.6 million articles—we're faced with three important questions. How do we get the data we need? What can we do with that data? And, perhaps most importantly, why should we bother in the first place? In this chapter, I'll try to answer those questions. We'll see how to access information from the NYTimes Article Search API (http://developer.nytimes.com/docs/article_search_api), look at some practical visualization examples, and discuss how the new era of open data is opening doors for artists, entrepreneurs, designers, and social scientists.

Getting Data: The Article Search API

"API" is one of those three-letter acronyms that means very little as a collection of three letters, and even less once you find out what it stands for: application programming interface. While this rather generic term can be applied to all kinds of things within the world of software development, an API typically exists to allow one piece of software to talk to another. If we imagine a database as a physical warehouse that stores information, an API is the shipping and receiving department, and it's open to the public.

In general, interaction with an API is fairly straightforward. We send ...

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