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July 25 2011

16:31

#MozNewsLab week two lectures by @codepo8 @jresig & @jjg now online

The #MozNewsLab is hurtling toward the grand finale on August 5th. We’re past the half-way mark, and it feels like time is compressing each day into a New York minute.

We wrapped up week two of the lab last Friday. Here’s a quick recap:

The first lecture last week was a shot-in-the-arm of open-Web goodness: The Mozilla Foundation’s Executive Director Mark Surman talked about the broader Mozilla + Journalism initiative, touched on Why Mozilla cares about news, and introduced out guest speaker, Christian Heilmann.

From there, Heilmann — a developer ‘evangelist’ at Mozilla — took participants on a whirlwind tour of the State of the Browser in 2011. HTML5, CSS3, new APIs, WebGL — you name it, he covered it. You can find the lecture online here: recording, notes, and slides.

Next up was none other than John Resig. Resig is implicated in more successful open-source software projects that you can shake a stick at. He’s been leading the jQuery project for more than five years now, and has learned a lot about the ‘Open Source Process’: the ins-and-outs of building great software and a great community that supports it. John shared those learnings with the lab — it was an incredibly insightful voyage through the history of jQuery, and John’s tips on creating successful open-source software community.

You can find the lecture online here: recording, notes, and slides.

Jesse James Garrett — the ‘Father of AJAX’ — joined us on Friday to deliver the final lecture of the week. His talk focused on the conceptual model for thinking about successful interactive experiences, what he calls the ‘Elements of User Experience’. I must admit, I was quite excited to hear Jesse speak, as I’ve been a big fan ever since reading his book many, many years ago. Jesse expanded quite a bit on the early models of user experience that he pioneered and ofter many insightful new ideas about how to approach the experience of a software project or product.

You can find the lecture online here: recording, notes, and slides.

We’ve just kicked off week three. Hope you’re following along. There’s still time to send a ‘message in a bottle’ to the lab.

Last but not least, Mozilla’s Media, Freedom and the Web festival is really starting to come together. If you’re interested in the nexus of the open Web and media production, you may want to mark your calendar.

July 15 2011

15:04

Hey Newsrooms! Get your voices heard: Send a 'message-in-a-bottle' to the #MozNewsLab.

Message in the bottle by funtik.cat on FlickrCreative commons photo courtesy of funtik.cat on Flickr)


So, we’re five days into the #MozNewsLab experiment and things are exploding (in a good way, of course).

But we’re not in the clear yet…

In the development of this entire Knight-Mozilla program, we received a lot of great feedback from people working in newsrooms — both news-app developers and editorial staff. Some voices were louder than other (coughDerek Williscough), but we heard those voices loud-and-clear and want to work to address as many of the concerns as possible, such as:

  • The challenge of incremental change vs. wholesale change in established news organization;

  • The idea that ‘news apps’ are not just about technology, they are pieces of journalism too (and what that means practically);

  • How does a new software product or tool make its way into a newsroom? What are the entry points?

  • Where are the opportunities to ‘Hack at the core’ of news.

I want to inject as many of these ideas into the thinking that is happening in the #MozNewsLab, but I need your help to make that happen (and it’s in your interest to help!).

So, I had an idea the other day about how to do this, and I would like to try it out on all of you, if you’re willing.

I wrote about the lab’s objectives earlier this week on PBS MediaShift Idealab — and in that post I referenced the idea of a “message in a bottle.

Well, I’d like you to give it a shot. :)

The concept is simple: people working in newsrooms, or with newsrooms, or who have worked in newsrooms (you get the point), send a short video message into our learning lab. Once received, Alex and I will assign it as “homework.”

These video messages should try to communicate:

  • The realities of working in a busy news environment, i.e., the hurdles that fellows might face when they arrive at Al Jazeera English, BBC, Boston.com, Guardian, or Zeit Online this year (and perhaps your news organization next year);

  • The challenges that reporters are facing today, i.e., tools they really wish they had to report or present news;

  • The challenges that news users are facing today, i.e., how news could be better delivered to people who read, use, and re-mix it;

  • The failed state of corporate IT, and corporate CMSs, in many large newsrooms, and how to route around that;

… And so on.

Basically, these would be a reality check from those people “in the know” — like you.

So, your mission — should you choose to accept it — would be to:

  1. Create a short (~3 minute) web-cam video that boils down your experience into one clear call-to-action for our lab participants, e.g.: “If you’re going to know one thing about trying to work with reporters, and editors, and technology it’s ….” and one clear question for participants, e.g.: “So, given what I’ve just told you, how will you work around that?

  2. Upload that video to YouTube and tag it with #MozNewsLab (or upload it anywhere and send me a link; YouTube just saves me a step or two.)

  3. Keep you eye on your Twitter @ replies, and — as time permits — engage with the participants that respond.

This is your chance to get your idea, experience, and opinion in front of sixty-three smart people that are hurtling toward the opportunity to spend one year building software in a newsroom.

Let’s not let the #MozNewsLab particiapnts go in blind! :)

June 27 2011

14:14

Learning lab update: invitations to go out tomorrow. @jjg & @mohamed confirmed to lecture.

Yes, you heard that right: I was able to corner both user-experience pioneer Jesse James Garrett and Mohamed Nanabhay, Head of Online for Al Jazeera English, at the Civic Media conference last week, and both have agreed to deliver a lecture for the first Knight-Mozilla learning lab.

Who’s working hard for you? :)

Okay, now that I’ve got your attention, here’s a quick update on our progress toward concluding the challenge phase of the program, and moving into the learning lab phase:

  • Roughly 300 submissions were received during the challenge. It was a bit more than we were expecting. The quality of many of the submissions was quite high. Generally speaking, we wanted to ensure that each submission was reviewed thoroughly, and that each entry was seen by two pairs of eyes.

  • We expanded the review team and extended the review period by several days to ensure that each reviewer had enough time to read and comment on each entry. (Not a small amount of work, I assure you.)

  • That work is now complete. Ben and Jacob are going to send out invitations to the learning lab this week. I’m hoping the invitations go out tomorrow morning — fingers crossed! — but there are some remaining technical hurdles to get past before they can go out.

  • If you don’t receive an invitation tomorrow — fear not — you’ll be automatically added to a waiting list. We’ll be inviting people from the waiting list as we hear back from the first group of invitees. We’re aiming to have the process completed by Friday, July 1st.

I’ll post further updates on the invitation process and progress here throughout week.

Now, on to the learning lab itself. You may be asking: What should I expect if I’m a learning lab participant? Well, here’s a preview.

  • Just a reminder, the Knight-Mozilla learning lab will run from July 11th - August 5th, 2011. Those that receive an invitation will be expected to commit at least 10 hours a week to the lab.

  • The lab will focus on four key themes, one each week, which will be roughly: How to work open: the secret sauce of Mozilla’s software and community; How to take and idea from concept to product; Challenges that newsrooms and news users face today; and Journalism is evolving: What journalism might look like tomorrow.

  • To explore those themes, each week will include two mandatory lectures — Monday and Wednesday at roughly 8AM Pacific Time, 11AM Eastern Time, 4PM British Standard Time, and 5PM Central European Summer Time — and one optional lecture the same time on Friday. Each lecture will be approximately 30 minutes, with 30 minutes for Q&A.

  • The optional lectures will be just as amazing as the mandatory lectures, but will focus a bit more on practical skills and understanding vs. the big picture of the mandatory lectures. For example, if you arrive at the lab as a programmer with lots of product development experience, but little or no understanding of what a journalist actually does, we’ll have a lecture for you. And vice-versa: if you arrive as a tech-savvy journalist but with little experience building software, we’ll have a lecture for you too.

  • Each week participants will be asked to complete an assignment that builds on the information from the lectures. Participants will submit assignments by publishing it on their own blog. So, if you don’t have one yet, get moving. ;)

  • Last but not least will be your lab project. The lab project is the ‘big idea’ that you’re working on — perhaps your challenge submission; perhaps something new — throughout the four week lab. You’ll present your lab project for review at the conclusion of the lab.

The lab will be delivered entirely online. We’ll be using the Peer-to-Peer University platform for course material, assignments, and discussions. The lectures will be delivered synchronously (and attendance will be taken!) using the rather awesome Big Blue Button platform.

Your ship’s crew for the lab will be Alex and yours truly, and four excellent course shepherds that I’ll be introducing over the coming days.

I’ll be posting updates as we confirm the remaining lecture spots, and as we make progress with getting the invitations out. Stay tuned and let me know if you have any questions.

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