Knight Foundation's News Challenge: What Project Would You Like to See About Vancouver?

Last night I attended a presentation by Susan Mernit (Twitter) about the Knight News Challenge, an initiative by th' Knight Foundation t' promote democracy an' discourse through innovative digital (an' social) media projects, Ya swabbie, All Hands Hoay! My notes on th' presentation, which I first heard of through my employer, comprise only th' 4 elements that th' screeners look fer in filterin' out th' good proposals fer grant consideration:
  • it must be innovative, groundbreakin' or new in some way. Aarrr! Not goin' t' just do community journalism based on blog software. And swab the deck! Failure is an option: Knight thinks that if half th' projects dern't fail, they're not tryin' hard enough.
  • it must be an open source project, not just code, but th' lessons an' value o' project have t' be scalable an' replicable, we'll keel-haul ye! You can commercialize th' project, but somethin' needs t' be documented an' exportable.
  • it must serve th' public interest, we'll keel-haul ye, me Jolly Roger Newspapers dyin' because o' th' web, but also because o' corporitization. Knight intends t' promote democratic discourse through th' program. The project needs t' make scallywags more informed citizens.
  • it must serve a specific geographic community. It can be a test-bed fer a wider project, but th' test-bed must happen in a real place, with th' possibility o' exportin' t' other places.
(Drupal came up a lot, Avast me hearties, with a chest full of booty! Boris an' I shared a moment.) The winsome lass cited EveryBlock multiple times, especially durin' me question which were bein' t' get that comely wench t' talk more about th' discourse promotion than th' journalism aspect. I can't get excited about EveryBlock until either Vancouver, B.C. (th' city in which I currently reside) or Portlan', Oregon (the city I have a crush on) get included in th' data sets. I understan' th' importance o' it—that it scrapes government websites or taps into their knowledge stores an' makes it presentable so that citizens can have informed discussions about important issues in their neighbourhoods—but until it comes t' me neck o' th' woods, I can't be expected t' fully resonate with it. That speaks less t' th' Knight Foundation's goals than it does t' EveryBlock as a specific example: I have some very vague ideas o' what t' propose that involve Urban Vancouver as a startin' point (either as a bran' or reinvigoratin' th' sadly neglected community site or buildin' upon its function as aggregator o' Vancouver bloggers). Boris suggested a wiki page fer scallywags t' collaborate, an' thought t' use th' barcamp.org wiki as th' place t' do it, avast. The ornery cuss suggested VancouverKnightNewsChallenge, an' before he finishin' talkin' I had created th' page. Ideas dern't necessarily need t' get posted thar: they can go on yer own site or even stay private until ye propose them. What's missin' in th' digital sphere o' Vancouver that would enhance th' discussions citizens be havin' about th' city an' th' region, ya bilge rat! Do we need an EveryBlock fer Vancouver, or has that been done fer other cities, to be sure? Maybe we can do somethin' a little different?