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August 02 2011


#MozNewsLab lectures by @Shazna from @AP_Interactive, @Mohamed from @AJEnglish & @iA from, well, @iA now online

Week three of the #MozNewsLab is all wrapped up.

I’m almost experiencing a pang of sadness that we only have a few days to go until the lab is concluded. It really has flown by too quickly.

Of course, that sadness is offset by two things:

  1. Twenty participants will be invited to the next phase of the program: a five-day event in Berlin focused on building software prototypes.

  2. Having the opportunity to get out and enjoy what’s left of this amazing summer! :) My guess is that all of the people involved in #MozNewsLab — the particpants, and the faculty — are looking forward to a few days off.

First things first…

Last week we turned the corner from a focus on technology to a focus on journalism, news, and reporting. All of the guest speakers were asked to share their experiencing of where and how technology is impacting their newsrooms, or what changes are underway at news organizations today in the context of technology.

The week was kicked off by Shazna Nessa, Director of Interactive at the Associated Press in New York. Shazna shared how the AP is changing — how they are trying to break down silos and formalize technology in the newsroom, as well as introducing new skills and pushing toward new forms of interactive news presentation.

You can watch Shazna’s lecture here.

Following Shazna was Mohamed Nanabhay, Head of Online at Al Jazeera English. Mohamed delivered a mile-a-minute lecture on the speed at which Al Jazeera English has moved into our consciousness, and what that has meant for their news delivering infrastructure. Mohamed also dived into questions about sources, fact checking, verification, and the role of user-generated content in Al Jazeera English’s reporting work.

You can watch Mohamed’s lecture here.

Closing out the week’s lecture series was Oliver Reichenstein, CEO of Information Architects. Oliver delivered a 10,000 foot view of the changes underway in news organizations from the perspective of one of the world’s leading design agencies — an agency that has been responsible for some high-profile re-designs, successful software products, and innovative thinking on the future of news.

Oliver’s talk highlighted the tension between design considerations of news sites, and the business considerations that are often in contrast. You can watch Oliver’s lecture here.

We’re in the final sprint. The assignments from last week are starting to flow in to the #MozNewsLab Planet, and many of them are heading in the direction of the final project that is due on Friday.

Yesterday, we heard from Evan Hansen; Tomorrow we hear from Jeff Jarvis.

It’s been a whirlwind month. I hope you’ve enjoyed following along.

July 25 2011


#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.

Sponsored post

July 20 2011


#MozNewsLab week one lectures by @azaaza @burtherman & @amandacox now online

The participants in the #MozNewsLab are kicking-up such an amazing storm of ideas, that I’m finding it hard to concentrate long enough to put my own thoughts to keyboard this week.

So, in lieu of some suitably witty update, here’s a quick re-cap of the first week’s lectures:

The week kicked off with a lecture by the renowned interface designer, Aza Raskin. Aza recently held the position of Creative Lead for Firefox, he’s now working on a start-up called Massive Health.

Aza’s lecture focused on designing in the open and rapid prototyping. You can find the slides here, or watch the recorded lecture (with synced slides) here. The #MozNewsLab participants also took great notes here.

On Wednesday, the lab heard from journalism-entrepreneur Burt Herman. Burt shared his life experiences — from his time as journalist with the Associated Press, to his current adventures as co-founder of the award-winning journalism tech start-up, Storify.com

These two lectures dovetailed perfectly together: both focused on the strategy of rapidly iterating software product ideas, being willing to kill early ideas if necessary, and incorporating user input into the development & design process.

You can find Burt’s slides here, and his recorded lecture here. (Notes here.)

We closed out the week on Friday with a mind-expanding, 1000 mile-per-hour, lecture by Amanda Cox. Amanda Cox is a graphics editor at the New York Times, where she creates charts and maps for the print and web versions of the paper.

Amanda’s lecture was the perfect finale for the week — it provided a whirlwind tour of how the New York Times graphics desk thinks about the data that it presents online. Slides here, lecture here, and notes here.

Week two is already off to a great start. John Resig is scheduled to present later today. It’s an exciting week in the #MozNewsLab.

July 15 2011


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! :)

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