Knight: Who else?

Item No. 12 in my proposal for a Knight grant asks:

Who else is working in this area? How does your work fit into the larger context of work in this area? (Limit of 2,075 characters, about 325 words — This needs to be trimmed.)

Related efforts are either narrowly focused or much broader than community news projects.

Sprints are a type of short collaboration in software engineering. They are part of a method of agile development, designed to respond quickly to needs and requests of the market.

Sprints have been held for Django, an open-source “Web framework for perfectionists with deadlines.” Adrian Holovaty, who has since won a Knight grant for EveryBlock, built it with Simon Willison. Django is used by about 850 Web sites, with news sites ranging from those of the Lawrence Journal-World to the Washington Post.

The second Django sprint is scheduled for Dec. 1. As of early November, about 10 people planned to go to Lawrence, Kan., and about 40 others planned to help out around the globe. The first started on Sept. 14, with some people working through the weekend. More than 190 people signed up. Most of them worked remotely, but in-person collaboration was done in several locations.

Two other groups that cooperate on technology for the news industry are Newspapers on Drupal and International Press Telecommunications Council. Although they vary in form, they both have limited scope.

The IPTC is an international consortium that develops standards for the exchange of news. For example, News Industry Text Format uses the XML, or the eXtensible Markup Language, to define articles’ content and structure, which enables publishers to more easily adapt files for their readers.

Newspapers on Drupal is an informal online group for those using or considering using Drupal, an open-source content-management platform.

It has about 360 members, who include Knight winners Lisa Williams, for PlaceBlogger, and Benjamin Melancon, for Related Content.

Two large open-source organizations outside the news industry are Mozilla and Sourceforge.

The nonprofit Mozilla develops open-source software with more than 800 code contributors. It is probably best known for the Firefox Web browser.

Sourceforge says it hosts “more than 100,000 projects and over 1,000,000 registered users with a centralized resource for managing projects, issues, communications, and code.”

Micropledge and Cofundos enable “crowd funding” for open-source software development. is not open-source, but it does bring strangers together for a short time to make new projects. It was founded this year, and it facilitates 54-hour events in which people start companies. An event Nov. 2-4 in Chapel Hill, N.C., resulted, which is to help people find temporary office space.

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