Media and the semantic web

Posted on May 22, 2008 by agentrickard

I just finished a fascinating phone conversation with Valérie Arnould of IFRA, the worldwide research and service organization for the news publishing industry.

She wanted to talk about the changes in store for the web, particularly about the effects of the semantic web on the media industry. Now, I am not the expert here, but I do know that the Drupal community has been working towards that goal.

For me, the big challenge is convincing media companies to play nice with others in sharing both data repositories and toolsets. We can build some very compelling tools for journalism and communities if we can work together.

Knight News Challenge grants announced

Posted on May 15, 2008 by agentrickard

KDI logo

The winners of the 2008 Knight News Challenge were announced, and they are a fascinating group.

Read Ben Melançon'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 didn’t meet the threshold for innovation. But the crowd is telling us something. So sometime this summer we’re going to bring together a number of those people and see if there isn’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.

A new beginning

Posted on May 9, 2008 by agentrickard


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.

Knight Commission to study 21st century information needs

Posted on April 28, 2008 by agentrickard

Interesting note for the Knight Drupal Initiative.

Washington, D.C. – 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.

Knight Drupal Initiative: Just about ready to go

Posted on April 23, 2008 by agentrickard

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.)

Wow, those people are angry

Posted on March 12, 2008 by agentrickard

Lots of newspapers (and maybe the state of Kentucky) are banning anonymous comments.

Perhaps this site is why.

Drupal at Nexpo

Posted on March 12, 2008 by agentrickard

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.

drupliconsmall.png nexpo.png

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.

Why Drupal? (Knight Foundation, part three)

Posted on March 10, 2008 by agentrickard

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.

DrupalCON Wrapup

Posted on March 10, 2008 by agentrickard

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 Melançon; 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.

Using Drupal with External Data Sources

Posted on March 9, 2008 by agentrickard

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.]

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