Knight Foundation recently took a look at the 2009 Knight News Challenge winners, including the success of the project DocumentCloud. Here, one of the founders Aron Pilhofer talks about how the site became a standard tool for newsrooms in just two years.
Scott, who took notes of the meeting, summed up as follows: “This project will fight the “dark web” nature of source documents on the Web, in which documents are difficult to find and often disappear when a news organization is done telling a particular story.”
Eric proposed a name that everyone liked -- DocumentCloud.org -- and we bought the domain the next day.
Our goals were modest: We hoped to create a platform that would encourage news organizations -- our own if nothing else -- to be more transparent by publishing source documents in a Web-friendly format. At that time, few newsrooms thought to publish documents online, and those that did used awful, bloated proprietary formats like Flash or PDF.
None of us dreamed that in August of 2012, DocumentCloud.org would host more than 350,000 documents, comprising almost 5.5 million pages, for more than 650 organizations. We never imagined DocumentCloud.org would be serving more than a million document views per week, with peaks of more than a million per day.