The Tiziano Project, a 2011 Knight News Challenge winner, provides new media tools and training to community members in conflict, post-conflict and developing regions.
Nine months after being named winners, the people behind the 2011 Knight News Challenge projects gathered in Miami for a day of discussing their wins and road bumps in moving their ideas forward.
Several themes emerged - including deep discussions on how projects are developing or tapping into existing user communities to have an impact.
Some have already had success: The Public Laboratory, for example, which uses technology to make grassroots data gathering and research easy and affordable, has already recruited 600 “citizen scientists,” said Project Lead Shannon Dosemagen. They’ve used creative methods, like employing balloon mapping to capture aerial imagery of oil spill-affected areas along the Gulf Coast. The projects, which started out appealing to the mapping community, grew to include environmentalists, people interested in data visualization and more.
Others stumbled upon existing communities that ended up becoming audiences and providing useful information.
· Spending Stories, which gives relevant and useful context to news stories about government finances, started out creating a tool for journalists, said the project’s Community Coordinator Lucy Chambers. “As it turns out - it’s mainly advocacy groups who have more time and specialist knowledge who use the software for research, who then reach out to journalists to help raise awareness. We've been working more proactively with advocacy groups to leverage this interest.”
· Waldo Jaquith recently launched the Virginia Decoded site, which offers a user-friendly presentation of his home state’s codes, including links to court decisions and information from legislative tracking services. Jaquith said he was surprised to see how much enthusiasm there was nationally from the legal scholarship community. “It was great to have people who’ve given so much thought to the structure and organization of legal data for many years come to me and say ‘here’s what I’ve learned.’ That’s going to save me an enormous amount of time. I expected to have to spend months researching this kind of information, but instead it’ll take a few weeks because people who’ve already been doing it want to share what they’ve learned.”