The winners of the 2008 Knight News Challenge were announced, and they are a fascinating group.
Read Ben MelanÃ§on's Millions headed Drupal's way for a good overview with relation to Drupal.
I was fascinated to read The WSJ interview with Alberto Ibarguen, Knight Foundation president and CEO. The following is his answer to the first question asked by WSJ's Tom Weber:
Buzzwatch: What did you notice about the focus of entries this year compared with last year?
Mr. Ibarguen: We jumped from 1,600 applications to more than 3,000, with roughly half from overseas. And we had many more applications from young people, which we had particularly targeted.
In content, there was a significant increase in the number of people who had cellphone or cellphone-related projects. There were a notable number of projects using Drupal [an open-source content-management system].
There was also a significant increase in the number of people who wrote with projects related to online weeklies and online dailies in different small communities. We did not do anything with those in this context because they didnâ€™t meet the threshold for innovation. But the crowd is telling us something. So sometime this summer weâ€™re going to bring together a number of those people and see if there isnâ€™t something we at Knight Foundation can do.
Now, this should get the Drupalverse excited about the Knight Drupal Initiative, a program that was created in direct response to this year's News Challenge entrants. We're ready to start taking applications, and are trying to arrange a public Q&A session for next week.
Today is my last day at Morris DigitalWorks. After a ten-year run in the newspaper industry, I am leaving to work full-time with Drupal development.
I am joining the team at Palantir, where I will be doing some programming, training and consulting for Palantir and their growing client list.
Tiffany Farriss and George DeMet have put together a great young team, and I am very excited to be coming on board. The company just moved into its new offices in order to keep up with demand for their award-winning services. Palantir is hiring more developers, too.
I also get to work with Larry Garfield, whom I greatly respect. We worked together on the GoPHP5 project, which helped chart a course for the future of Drupal.
For me, the decision came down to priorities and passions. I think that the Drupal community can do some amazing things, especially supporting the goals of free speech and freedom of information. I will continue working on the Knight Drupal Initiative as a central part of my Drupal contributions.
I am staying in Augusta, where my wife is about to start an exciting new career as well. More details to come over the next week or so, as I get organized in my new home office.
Interesting note for the Knight Drupal Initiative.
Washington, D.C. â€“ The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the Aspen Institute today announced the launch of the Knight Commission on the Information Needs of Communities in a Democracy.
The high-level Knight Commission will look into whether the information needs of 21st century American citizens and communities are being met and make recommendations for public policy and private initiatives that will help better meet community information needs.
The commission will be lead by Theodore B. Olson, former Solicitor General of the United States, and Marissa Mayer, vice president of search products and user experience for Google.
Why is this interesting to Drupal? Well, the Knight Commission website is Drupal powered. And the goals of this public committee are very similar to those of the Knight Drupal Initiative. It would not surprise me if some of the findings of the commission made their way into the hands of Drupal developers very quickly.
See the full press release.
I have been quiet recently. (There are good reasons for that which I will not bore people with.)
But we are about ready to make some noise in the Drupal community by opening the Knight Drupal Initiative to proposals.
For those of you who were not at DrupalCON Boston, here is the short summary of where we are:
As I said, we are just about ready to announce the program as ready for proposals. But first we have a few tasks to clean up.
If you have a few minutes, please look over the task list and pitch in. We especially need some :
- Editors to look over the documentation for clarity.
- Designers to make us a nifty logo.
- Marketers to write us some good copy for promoting the KDI in the community.
Hats off to JoshK, John Britton, MatthewS and Moshe for their hard work on this to date.
(And, yes, we have taken a while to launch the initiative. But that was so we could all help get Summer of Code going for this year without distracting from its very important mission.)
Lots of newspapers (and maybe the state of Kentucky) are banning anonymous comments.
Perhaps this site is why.
For those who don't know, Nexpo is a gigantic trade show put on by the Newspaper Association of America every year. Over at my day job, I'm a member of the NAA, and this interview was with the NAA monthly trade magazine.
As a result, I will be at Nexpo, invited by Rich Forsgren to appear on a panel to discuss "Content Management -- A Technology Perspective." I will be the open-source voice on the panel, which should include industry heavyweights SaxoTech, DTI, and other vendors of proprietary software.
I will, as usual, be taking the stance that open-source is good for business and that it aligns with the core goals of journalism: namely the free exchange of information in order to build better communities. This should be a lot of fun.
For those of you in the Washington, DC area, I will be in town for three nights [April 12 - 14], so make your dinner reservations now.
While we were all off having a good time at DrupalCON, there was a Knight Digital Media Center conference going on at the University of Southern California.
The initial topic of the day -- setting the stage for the rest -- was covered by Amy Gahran at Poynter. Michael Williams of the University of Maryland introduced some Zogby polling data about the trend towards digital news consumption -- and its adverse effect on the traditional media industry. Go read Amy's notes, I won't rehash them here. But I will pull this quote from the Zogby report:
"Americans recognize the value of journalism for their communities, and they are unsatisfied with what they see. While the U.S. news industry sheds expenses and frets about its future, Americans are dismayed by its present. Meanwhile, we see clearly the generational shift of digital natives from traditional to online news - so the challenge for traditional news companies is complex. They need to invest in new products and services - and they have. But they've also got to invest in quality, influence and impact. They need to invest in journalism that makes a difference in people's lives. That's a moral and leadership challenge - and a business opportunity for whoever can meet it." -- Andrew Nachison, co-founder of iFOCOS
The Knight Foundation announcement at DrupalCON was about this: getting more people involved in re-creating the business of journalism, so that communities can be made stronger.
One of the challenges to Drupal, by the way, is to determine where (or if?) we fit into the larger ecosystem of digital news innovation.
Well, that week just flew by. This is the most time I've spent in front of my computer all week.
Aside from the three panels I participated in, I spent most of the week out in the hallway, trying to connect people. I spent most of the week asking WWBMD -- What Would Boris Mann Do? Boris would introduce people to each other; so I did.
I also went to a hockey game on Thursday night -- absolute disaster, that, Toronto 8, Bruins 2. After the game, I went up to one of the Drupalers and apologized. Andre said, "What do mean? I'm from Toronto; that was a great game!"
The sessions all went very well, especially the Knight Foundation Q&A and the following BoF discussion. There is some more work to do here, and I'll talk about that in a separate post.
Big thanks to the following folks for hospitality, logistics, and generally making it a great week: Kieran Lal, Jeff Whatcott, Robert Douglas and Jay Batson from Acquia; Gary, Jose, Al, and Robertson from the Knight Foundation; Leslie Hawthorne -- the source of all good Summer of Code things; Moshe, Jamie and the rest of the local volunteers; Matt Cheney and Neil Drumm; Tobby, Jonathan and Nik (MDW); Morten, the King of Denmark; D Mak; Christefano and Lee; Cary and the rest of the hockey posse; the Lucky's Lounge mob; Mike Meyers; Eric Gunderson, Alex Barth and the absent Bonnie Bogle from Development Seed; Pierre from the World Bank (I don't hate the bank); Lisa Williams and Ben MelanÃ§on; and, of course, the all-powerful Sooz.
There are many more names that should be on this list. Including Bob, for approving the whole trip.
So the session is over, and I think it went well. Neil Drumm and Matt Cheney showed me that I'm a little behind, actually. They've been doing more active work on data import. Kieran was smart to put us all together, and the panel was stronger than an individual presentation.
There is video -- link to come -- of the session. And I am posting the slides that I used. These slides are, as usual, just talking points. You should really take a look at the sample modules in the API.
Download the presentation [2.4 MB pdf].
[Update: the corrupted PDF file should be working now.]
We had a very successful BoF on Wednesday. The goal was to discusss how the Drupal community would manage our relationship with the Knight Foundation.
For those who were not at DrupalCON, here are the basics:
-- The Knight Foundation (KF) provides funding for open-source development, products and innovations that are in line with their core goal: improving communities through the free exchange of news and information.
-- KF needs help from the community to review proposals that are specific to Drupal.
-- The program will be ongoing, with the deadlines and length of projects to vary on a case-by-case basis.
-- KF handles all the project management and grant management issues for accepted proposals.
-- The Drupal community will try a two-step process for applications.
1) Submit an idea for community consideration.
2) Ideas that get community support will become project issues in a special project queue. These proposals will get serious review from the community in preparation for passing to the KF for final evaluation.
Let me stress that this is not a contest; it is an ongoing program that is an extension of work that KF is already doing. They are looking to the community to help, since we agree that Drupal and KF share some common goals, particularly about the purpose of open-source software and the desire to enable open communications.
There will be some additional detail forthcoming over on g.d.o in the KF group. For now, you can see the meeting minutes from the BoF.
In summary, here is where we stand on the process:
-- Moshe and Josh are working on some CCK and voting widgets for use in submitting proposals via g.d.o.
-- Gary Kebbel and his team are working on some language so that we all know exactly what types of projects they wish to fund.
-- I will be creating a project page on drupal.org.
We are going to have a check-in on or about March 21st, to make sure that we are on track with the work to be done. At that checkpoint, we will create the next round of tasks -- which will be focused on three aspects:
-- Defining and communicating the goals of the program.
-- Marketing the program to the community.
-- Lining up volunteers to help manage the process.
I have to say that I am very excited about the potential here. And I think that the members of the KF who participated in the BoF were equally excited to see how the community responded and began to self-organize.
As a final note, let me stress that this will be an open process. We are striving for complete transparency regarding the proposals and the process for recommending them to the KF. If you were not at DrupalCON and want to participate, come on over and join the KF group. Everyone is welcome.