Articles by

Chris Sopher

  • Article

    Published by

    Lead Investigator Madeleine Ball talks about the Open Humans Network. Today Open Humans launches its online network to connect people like you and me with research studies at Harvard, New York University and the University of California, San Diego. Open Humans was one of the winners of the 2013 Knight News Challenge on health data, which was also funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the California HealthCare Foundation. We asked the question, “How can we harness data and information for the health of communities?” and Open Humans won with the idea of building an online portal to connect people willing to share their personal health information with medical researchers, potentially leading to medical breakthroughs. At Knight Foundation we’re interested in the ways in which we can use new technologies and behaviors to be better informed. We see information about our health as an important aspect of that. It’s why we were grateful to see the revamped The Wait We Carry site launch last week, an effort by Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America to make transparent the challenges veterans face receiving health care and other benefits. Similarly, we see Open Humans as an important experiment in reimagining how individuals might pool our personal data for the greater good of all.
  • Article

    Published by

    Photo illustration made with images from Flickr users Thomas Hawk and Sourabh Rath. On Sept. 10, we’re opening the next News Challenge, on libraries. Our 12th News Challenge, it will build upon the 19 projects we funded with $3.47 million in June through the News Challenge that sought ideas to strengthen the Internet. That work, conversations such as the ones we recently had at the Aspen Institute this month and longstanding initiatives such as the Knight Commission on the Information Needs of Communities in a Democracy have affirmed for us the centrality of libraries for building and maintaining an informed citizenry. Related Link "Share your inspiration for Knight News Challenge: Libraries" by John Bracken on Knight Blog We’re hoping to hear ideas for leveraging the assets that libraries have built: physical spaces open to anyone; professional staff trained in how to seek, retrieve and share information; and a legacy of aiding new readers, new entrepreneurs and new Americans. In recent years we’ve seen libraries leverage the Internet and digital approaches for education, entrepreneurship, the arts and “making.” In a digital age we see libraries--public, university, archival, virtual--as key for improving Americans’ ability to know about and to be involved with what takes place around them.
  • Article

    Published by

    Above: Advisers gather to review applications in Mozilla's offices. Photo credit: John Bracken.  Yesterday we huddled with 14 advisers in Mozilla’s San Francisco office to help us determine a group of semifinalists in the News Challenge. Today, we’re sending notices to 56 projects asking them for additional information. We’ll look at their submissions over the next few weeks and, after considering the advice of another set of advisers, we’ll notify a group of finalists on May 12. We received 704 submissions in the contest, which is focused on the question “How can we strengthen the Internet for free expression and innovation?” We saw ideas covering a range of topics, among them access to the Internet, freedom of expression and ideas to fix the Web. Now we enter the “refinement phase.” For the next 10 days, we encourage you to review the entries and add your comments, questions and suggestions. During refinement, semifinalists will get the chance to provide more details about their ideas and respond to community input. After the refinement phase, we’ll review the entries offline and select the winners. We will announce that group on June 23 at the MIT-Knight Civic Media Conference in Cambridge, Mass. Winners will receive a share of $2.75 million.
  • Article

    Published by

    Knight News Challenge We’ve closed the Knight News Challenge on strengthening the Internet. Here’s what happens next: From now until April 17, we’ll be in the “feedback” phase where we review the submissions. We invite anyone and everyone to join us in looking through the ideas, asking questions and giving feedback. Our staff reads every application we get, but we’ve also asked 15 people to join us as (paid) readers; they’ll go through every application and help us select a group of semifinalists. You can identify them on the newschallenge.org site by the “reader” tags  on their profile photos. When someone has a comment or a question about your submission, they’ll ask it on the site and you’ll receive an email notification. (Note: The readers cannot answer logistical questions about the News Challenge; if you have any of those please, direct them to us, [email protected]dation.org or [email protected] or on Twitter @cksopher or @jsb.) Through the end of the feedback phase at 5 p.m. ET on April 17, applicants can edit their entries. We recommend that you respond to questions and feedback given in the comments section and, if necessary, incorporate any changes or clarifications into your entry. On April 18, we’ll send notices to the submissions we select as semifinalists, with an additional set of questions about each project due by April 28. On May 8-9, we’ll gather a set of outside advisers to help us select a small group of finalists, whom we’ll interview in person. We will notify that group on May 12. On June 9 Knight staff will recommend a group of News Challenge winners to the foundation’s trustees.  We will announce those winners June 23 at the MIT-Knight Civic Media conference. Thank you to everyone who applied, and to those of you who are contributing your comments and thoughts to the challenge. We also want to thank our partners, Ford Foundation and Mozilla.
  • Article

    Published by

    Knight News Challenge video series RELATED LINKS "Towards a stronger Internet" by John Bracken and Chris Sopher on Knightblog.org "Our future's Internet strengthened today" by Jenny Toomey on KnightBlog.org "A $2.75 million challenge to create a more open Internet" by Mark Surman on KnightBlog.org "Refusing to unlearn a free and open Internet" by Shazna Nessa on KnightBlog.org "4 most common News Challenge questions answered" by John Bracken on KnightBlog.org There are about 100 hours left to apply to the Knight News Challenge, which is looking for ideas that answer the question: “How can we strengthen the Internet for free expression and innovation?” Entries using our (brief!) submission form are due March 18 by 5 p.m. ET at newschallenge.org. The contest is open to anyone, anywhere. We will consider both for-profit and nonprofit projects. And for the first time in the Knight News Challenge, we’re open to ideas beyond technology, including research, journalism, policy and education. In other words: anything that might help build a better Internet. The best ideas, which we will announce in June, will win a share of $2.75 million, including $250,000 from Ford Foundation. For the first time, the News Challenge winners’ pool will also include Prototype Fund grantees; we'll be awarding $35,000 grants through the challenge for early-stage projects. We’re looking forward to reading your ideas!  John Bracken, director of journalism and media innovation at Knight Foundation, and Chris Sopher, journalism program associate at Knight Foundation.
  • Article

    Published by

      The Internet has become an essential resource for artistic expression, news, economic growth, education and human interaction. How can we make it stronger? That’s the question we’re asking in the first Knight News Challenge of 2014, which we’re launching today, with help from Ford Foundation and Mozilla. RELATED LINKs "Our future's Internet strengthened today" by Jenny Toomey on KnightBlog.org "A $2.75 million challenge to create a more open Internet" by Mark Surman on KnightBlog.org "Creating safe spaces for innovation on the Internet" by Kwasi Asare on KnightBlog.org "Refusing to unlearn a free and open Internet" by Shazna Nessa on KnightBlog.org "Innovating to create comprehension of big data and the Internet" by Higinio O. Maycotte "4 most common News Challenge questions answered" by John Bracken on KnightBlog.org "Restoring equilibrium to the web" by Tyler Fisher on KnightBlog.org  From now through 5 p.m. ET on March 18, you can share your ideas, and react to those from others. We have committed $2.75 million for the best ideas, including $250,000 from the Ford Foundation. We’ll announce the winners in June. We’ll also invite the winning teams to a two-day human-centered design training workshop to help them develop their projects. Winners will become part of a growing network of past News Challenge winners that includes MapBox, Wikipedia, Safecast, DocumentCloud and Zeega. We run the News Challenge without specific projects in mind. There is no formula for winning. In fact, we’ve made this challenge even more open than in the past. For the first time, we’re not just looking for technologies, but also ideas for journalism, policy, research, education - any innovative project that results in a stronger Internet. If you have questions about the application, you can join us us for a virtual hangout on Tuesday, March 4, at 1 p.m. ET. (To join via audio only, call 1-888-240-2560 with Meeting ID 731675489.)
  • Article

    Published by

    Mapping Local Health Care Prices: A Crowdsourcing Consortium We recently announced the seven winners of Knight News Challenge: Health. We couldn’t be more excited about the quality, variety and ambition of these teams and their projects. We’d also like to share the seven other projects that made it to the final round. While we weren’t able to fund all of them, we enjoyed getting to know the teams and their projects, and we were inspired by their ambition and focus. We hope to see them come to life in the months ahead. We’ve also heard that it’s useful to see the original applications of the top projects, so we’ve gathered them all in one place. If you want to learn more about the projects, click on the links to their original proposal on newschallenge.org.
  • Article

    Published by

    Knight News Challenge: Health winners from Knight Foundation on Vimeo. In August we launched the 10th Knight News Challenge asking the question, “How can we harness data and information for the health of communities?”  We received 686 entries when we ran the contest in September and chose the winners from 40 semifinalists. Overall, we felt this was the strongest field we’ve yet seen in the News Challenge. This News Challenge was different for us. It marked the first time we dove into an unfamiliar topic. It was also the first time we collaborated with other foundations on the contest.  The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the California HealthCare Foundation helped us conceive the challenge, participated with us in our outreach campaign and each contributed money toward awards. The Health Data Consortium and the Clinton Foundation joined to help us evaluate proposals. All four organizations helped us organize our 21-city road tour, where we promoted the contest and listened to ideas. We learned a lot, and we’re grateful for their participation.
  • Article

    Published by

    Photo credit: Flickr user Lynn Friedman On Tuesday, we closed the Knight News Challenge: Health with 686 entries. Now we’re moving into the “feedback” phase where, through Sunday, a panel of readers and our team will review the applications, ask questions and give feedback. If you’re interested in the contest, we encourage you to do the same. RELATED LINKS  "40 ideas advance in News Challenge: Health" "Knight News Challenge: Health opens with inspiration phase, additional prizes from collaborators" by Raina Kumra and John Bracken "Data: Why we care" by Esther Dyson "News Challenge: Make APIs not apps, health CEO says" by Lucky Gunasekara "Data provides a focus for community action" by Bryan Sivak "Robert Wood Johnson Foundation announces new prize for News Challenge: Health" by Paul Tarini "California HealthCare Foundation: The data stops here" and "It takes a community to humanize health data" by Andy Krackov "How data-driven solutions can transform healthcare" by Lexie Komisar "Data essential to promoting healthy habits" by Nirav R. Shah "Media company harnesses health data for stories that connect with communities" by David Kansas "Pizza tracker versus patient tracker" by M. Bridget Duffy On Sept. 25, we’ll announce a group of 40 semifinalists. We ask those applicants to add additional information to their entries, including budget details and a short video. That group will undergo additional review in October, after which we’ll select finalists and recommend a list of winners to the Knight trustees at their December meeting. We’ll announce the contest winners in January 2014. Through the end of the feedback phase at 11:59 p.m. ET Sunday, applicants can edit their entries. We recommend that applicants also respond to questions and feedback given in the comments section on their entries; it helps us get additional information that might not have been included in the main body of an entry. Comments and questions left by members of our panel will be identified with a “READER” tag on their profile photos. There are 10 readers, and you can learn more about them here. Knight Foundation staff will recommend winners to Knight trustees, who make the final decisions, but readers lend their expertise and experience. In many cases, they’ll have clarifying questions for applicants, so it’s good to respond promptly (the system will e-mail you when you receive a comment). Thank you to everyone who applied, and to those of you who are contributing your comments and thoughts to the challenge. We also want to thank our partners—Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, California HealthCare Foundation, Health Data Consortium and the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation—and the local organizations in each community we visited, for making the contest possible.
  • Article

    Published by

    Knight News Challenge OI Engine: How the Platform Works from Knight Foundation on Vimeo. There are only five days left to submit your idea to News Challenge: Health; it closes Sept. 17 at 5 p.m. ET. As John Bracken and I have toured the country hosting events and talking to people in the field, we’ve gotten a few common questions, and want to tackle them publicly. There are four, and I’ll answer each in turn. RELATED LINKS  "40 ideas advance in News Challenge: Health" "What's next in Knight News Challenge: Health" by Chris Sopher "Knight News Challenge on Health opens for entries" "Knight News Challenge: Health opens with inspiration phase, additional prizes from collaborators" by Raina Kumra and John Bracken "Announcing key collaborators and details of Knight News Challenge: Health" by John Bracken and Chris Barr "Join us to brainstorm ideas around News Challenge: Health" and There's still time to brainstorm around News Challenge: Heath" by Chris Sopher "Data: Why we care" by Esther Dyson "News Challenge: Make APIs not apps, health CEO says" by Lucky Gunasekara "Data provides a focus for community action" by Bryan Sivak "Robert Wood Johnson Foundation announces new prize for News Challenge: Health" by Paul Tarini "California HealthCare Foundation: The data stops here" and "It takes a community to humanize health data" by Andy Krackov "How data-driven solutions can transform healthcare" by Lexie Komisar "Data essential to promoting healthy habits" by Nirav R. Shah "Media company harnesses health data for stories that connect with communities" by David Kansas "Pizza tracker versus patient tracker" by M. Bridget Duffy 1) What’s in a good application? What should I put in the open text box? 2) What do you mean by “health”? 3) What do you mean by “data and information”? Does all my data have to be public? 4) Who’s reviewing my entry? 1) What’s in a good application? What should I put in the open text box? We’ve given you a free-form text box to “describe the idea.” Here are the most important tips, drawn from my longer post about how to create a great application. Be absurdly clear about the idea. You’d be surprised how often applications fail to describe the actual idea being proposed. Describe the project as though you were describing it to a stranger on the street with no knowledge of your field or area of interest. Tell us about your users/audience. The best indicator of a strong proposal—and successful project—is having a clear sense of who it’s for, how that group of people behaves, and what they’re currently doing that you can support or change with your idea. Show us your thought process; “the general public” is a vague, uninformative answer. Tell us what leads you to this idea. How do you know your users are experiencing the problem you think they’re experiencing? Give us a sense of your experience, research, testing or whatever you’ve done that leads you to this concept. Introduce the team. We like to know whether people proposing an idea have the skills to get it done. That doesn’t mean you have to have everyone on board already, but if you don’t, let us know how you plan to get them there. Links to previous, relevant work are always good, too. Share assumptions and challenges. We like to see teams that acknowledge and test their own assumptions. The most successful projects do this constantly. Tell us about the assumptions you’re making, the challenges you might face and how you plan to tackle them.
  • Article

    Published by

    Photo credit: Flickr user Josh Kellogg. John Bracken (@jsb), Raina Kumra (@rainakumra) and I (@cksopher) are on the final stretch of a 3-week, 21-city tour to talk about and brainstorm around the theme of the Knight News Challenge: Health. Our contest question is, “How can we harness data and information for the health of communities?”  We’re meeting innovators and entrepreneurs working on this question, and spreading the word about the opportunity for breakthrough ideas to get a share of more than $2 million in funding. We’ve found that the contest is a great way to get a conversation going—or continue one that’s already started locally—about what we can do together in our communities to make them stronger and better informed. We’ve teamed up with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Health Data Consortium, the California HealthCare Foundation and the Clinton Health Matters Initiative, who helped shape the "inspiration phase" of this challenge and will help review entries. The Robert Wood Johnson and California HealthCare foundations each are also offering $100,000 companion prizes for some of the best ideas. Entries will be accepted through Sept. 17 at newschallenge.org.