Knight Blog

The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Election Perceptions, 3: As the Internet goes, so goes the anti-Putin vote?

March 13, 2012, 12:49 p.m., Posted by Eric Newton

Today’s is the final of three posts looking at the media, data and elections. This time, Russia is the topic.   

First, it’s hard to know if last week’s election numbers are solid. The western press writes of election fraud. Some problems are admitted. Other reports say all was well. Yet we have the numbers we have, mapped in this post by Knight News Challenge winner Aaron Presnall and his nonpartisan Jefferson Institute, so let’s take a look.

President Vladimir Putin’s victory was substantial – but here’s an interesting point: the data seem to say that his results were related to Internet penetration levels.  Here are two rather extreme examples: In the North Caucasian Federal District, Internet penetration is a low 34 percent and the pro-Putin vote was a high 83.1 percent; In Moscow, Internet penetration is strong at 64 percent and Putin is weak at 47.3 percent.

I’m not arguing that the Internet by itself caused Putin’s lower total in Moscow. It was one of several factors.  Elections are complex. You have candidates, issues, process, existence of or lack of peace and prosperity and the general mindset of the people.

Knight News Challenge tip: do your research

March 13, 2012, 9:04 a.m., Posted by Jose C. Zamora

Note: To apply for the News Challenge, and read our FAQ, visit

Improve your Knight News Challenge application and your chance of becoming a finalist by doing some basic research.

Make sure you do the necessary research to show that you have a unique idea or a project that combines things that already exist to provide a product, process or service in a totally new way. You want to demonstrate that your project is better, more efficient or different from what already exists. The main goal is for you to know and be able to convey that you are not reinventing the wheel. And in this round of the challenge you want to demonstrate that you are using networks and tools that already exist to inform and engage users.

You will have a great advantage in the contest if you are able to show that:

• You know the landscape of the field and the project you are proposing to do.

• You are able to explain why your idea/project is different or better than everything else that is out there.

Three finalists named in News Related Technologies track of SXSW Accelerator Competition

March 12, 2012, 7:09 p.m., Posted by Elizabeth R. Miller

SXSW Accelerator Judges for News Related Technologies Track (l to r): Ben Huh, CEO of Cheezburger Network, Tony Conrad, co-founder and partner, True Ventures and Adam Ostrow, SVP content & executive editor Mashable.

Today, three innovative, news-related technologies were selected as finalists in the SXSW Accelerator Competition.

Of the eight startups vying, three - Ad Glue, the Funf Project and Umbel - were selected to move on to the second and final round of judging, scheduled for tomorrow morning at 9:30 a.m.

Here’s a bit more about each of them, from their morning pitches and materials:

  • Ad Glue is an advertising platform that allows publishers to instantly “glue” or place advertisements next to content they like.  It allows users to reach customers  in three steps - by creating an ad, choosing when it gets seen and seeing it stay put for a full 30 days. There are no dashboards, no need for graphic designers and publishers can change their messaging and artwork as often as they need. 
  • Funf Project is a social and behavioral sensing framework for Android devices. It provides an open source, reusable set of functionalities, enabling the grassroots collection, dissemination, and sense-making of rich data about individuals, their devices and their environment. It can be used by researchers, self-trackers or anyone interested in collecting and exploring information related to mobile device, its environment, and its user’s behavior. The project was developed at the MIT Media Lab.
  • Umbel empowers publishers, advertisers and agencies with a deeper understanding of audience engagement, by using large amounts of aggregated, real-time social data. The knowledge and insights it provides to clients helps them research and plan their media placements more effectively. The company says that selling inventory with Umbel data yields eight times more return when compared to ad network revenue.