Knight: mass tech collaboration

Here is a version of my entry for the Knight News Challenge. This advanced to the second round. I am asking for $15,000 for planning and marketing.

 Describe your project

The mass tech collaboration would bring together and focus the efforts of a relatively large number of mainly technical people for a defined and relatively short period of time. They would develop one or more news or information projects that are either local or are intended to be made localized.

The collaboration could undertake one or more of a number of projects. For the sake of illustration, here are a couple of options from “idea” winners in the Knight News Challenge.

* “Community Media Toolset that will provide publishers, editors and developers at citizen media sites with easy-to-use social media tools – plug-ins, scripts, guides and tutorials – to expand public participation.” (J.D. Lasica)

* “Interactive Community Spaces project, the use of GPS tracking to inform people through mobile media.” (Paul Lamb and Leslie Rule)


Other ideas it could undertake include:

* Auto-linking for stories.

* Mobile delivery of news and information.

* Database about local government officials and possibly candidates.

* Automatic or simplified location tagging for stories and other material.

* Urban kiosks to narrow the digital divide between the haves and have-nots.

* News-site content-management system that enables customization by individual audience members.


This is essentially how it would work:

  1. One or more technical leaders would be recruited.
  2. Other people would apply to be paid to work on the project.
  3. Anyone would be eligible to participate, even if they are not accepted to be paid.
  4. People with little or no technical skills would also be able to help, such as by testing and with some of the documentation.


The idea phase would be used to address issues such as:

  1. Duration and method of collaboration: online, offline, or some combination.
  2. Project or projects to be made.
  3. Skills needed.
  4. Management of one or more teams.
  5. Choosing applicants.
  6. Stipends for participants.
  7. Continue after the initial collaboration.


The idea phase would also be used to market the idea, to build interest and excitement.


Who Would Want to Use It, and Why?


News organizations, individual developers and others. Possibly digital media companies.


The mass tech collaboration would enable the news industry to capitalize on its strength in numbers and the fact that news organizations have relatively little local competition. So they can benefit by working together more than most other companies can.


This project would give news organizations the effect of having a larger technical staff than they could support on their own. The collaboration would be beneficial not just by virtue of the numbers, but by the opportunity to work with different people, by sharing and stimulating knowledge and thinking among the group.


It should also foster further collaboration. Ideally, success would lead to a continuing project roughly like the Mozilla Foundation but for news.


Why Are You the Best Person or Organization to Develop This Project?


Broad experience inside and outside journalism helps me work with a variety of people and envision a number of ways journalists and the news industry can better use technology to serve the public.


I have several years of experience as a journalist, mainly as a copy editor who has worked with all departments.  I started at a weekly with an editorial staff of two to four people, so I had my hands all over the paper. I worked in other fields before becoming a journalist, and I have a broad geographic background.


My collaboration experience includes volunteer editing at Assignment Zero, founding a wiki about journalism and a couple of years at Wikipedia. My projects at Wikipedia included starting a group that eventually produced a CD of articles screened for quality and importance.


I am familiar with the rudiments of Web development. I am also involved with a couple of other people who have more digital experience and knowledge than I do.


Published in: on October 23, 2007 at 10:07 am  Comments (5)  
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5 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. […] could affect my Knight grant proposal for a mass tech collaboration for the news industry. Published […]

  2. […] request is for support for the planning and marketing of a mass tech collaboration — which would focus a relatively large number of mainly technical people for a defined a […]

  3. […] in an ideal world Here’s a draft for question No. 5 of my application in the Knight News Challenge. The question asks: “What potentially bigger thing might happen […]

  4. […] Who else? Item No. 12 in my proposal for a Knight grant […]

  5. […] have about 10 days left to finish my proposal for the Knight News Challenge. My basic idea is to bring together a number of technical people for a short time to make local-type news […]

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