The Gamma Programming tools for open data-driven storytelling

Tomas Petricek

In Proceedings of European Data and Computational Journalism Conference, 2017

The rise of open data initiatives means that there is an increasing amount of raw data available. At the same time, the general public increasingly distrusts statistics and “post-truth” has been chosen as the word of 2016. The objective of The Gamma project is to help reverse this development. We argue that an important part of the problem is the fact that data science is often opaque, non-experts find results difficult to interpret and verify, and creating data-driven reports is limited to a small number of specialists.

We aim to address this problem by building novel programming tools that make it easy for journalists to build open, transparent data-driven reports and encourage interested citizens to understand how the presented claims are justified, further explore data and make their own factual claims. We show that recent ideas from programming language research can dramatically simplify the complexity of code to perform data access and aggregation and make it possible to automatically provide user interfaces that enable the readers to modify parameters of data visualizations.

Paper and more information

Watch the talk

I talked about The Gamma project as part of the Fellow Short Talks series organised by the Alan Turing Institute. This provides an accessible introduction to the project. You can watch the talk below.


If you want to cite the paper, you can use the following BibTeX information.

  author    = {Tomas Petricek},
  title     = {The Gamma: Programming tools for open data-driven storytelling},
  booktitle = {Proceedings of European Data and Computational Journalism Conference},
  series    = {EDCJC 2017},
  location  = {Dublin, Ireland},
  year      = {2017}

If you have any comments, suggestions or related ideas, I'll be happy to hear from you! Send me an email at or get in touch via Twitter at @tomaspetricek.

Published: Thursday, 6 July 2017, 12:00 AM
Author: Tomas Petricek
Typos: Send me a pull request!