What is Mozilla doing in media? What’s the connection between media, freedom and the web? This post from the Nieman Journalism Lab provides some helpful context on why Mozilla and the Knight Foundation are working together — and why open source matters to news.
“The foundations see a future that fuses journalism and tool-building, storytelling and code.”
Calling the recent Mozilla Festival “a serenade of hackers in service of the hack,” they describe the opportunity this way:
There’s a need for people who can construct frameworks for improving the work of journalism, fusing the best of what developers do (tool-building through code) and journalists do (storytelling through content). And there’s a need for these technologists and journalists to work together, in traditional and non-traditional settings alike.
Programmers + reporters mutating into hybrid news hackers
We’re seeing the emergence of hybrid technologists and “news hackers” that embody both those skill sets. Taking a look at the bios of the newly minted Knight-Mozilla fellows, who will be embedded in partner newsrooms around the world, shows how:
Mozilla’s “International Developer Evangelist” evangelist Christian Heilmann blew some minds in Monday’s MozNewsLab, outlining the potential of HTML5 with fantastic demos and examples that seemed too good not to share more widely.
HTML5 and where the web is headed
You need the audio and Chris’s context to really do this justice — but even just clicking through his links and examples provide a mini tour of where the web is headed.
Video archive of Chris’s presentation. (With introduction from Phillip Smith and the Mozilla Foundation’s Mark Surman. Skip to 31:36 for Chris.)
Etherpad with links, resources and lecture questions and answers.
Mediaqueries allow developers to test how big the user’s screen is, or what kind of device they’re using. And then change the design and layout accordingly — “responsive design.”
HTML5 video + canvas
This demo uses HTML5 Video and Canvas to turn a music video into movable puzzle pieces. Solve the puzzle and download the song for free.
HighCharts.js takes it further, creating beautiful animated charts and graphs, all using open technology — formerly the terrain of closed tech like Flash and Silverlight.
Drag and manipulate files in the browser
Drag files from your desktop right into the browser and manipulate them in real time. This demo allows you to drag an image of yourself into the browser and convert it into Commodore 64 format.
Phillip Smith’s “Catalyzing news innovation” post contains crucial ideas and talking points for MoJo. Especially given the back-and-forth and real-world testing with Geoff Samek — one of the smart folks behind the online news start-up Sacramento Press — who has written a pair of extremely thoughtful posts on this as well here.
Here’s a quick dirty capture of their talking points. For us to bake into our messaging for the upcoming MoJo web site launch. These are meant to supplement — not replace — the messaging already on the MoJo wiki and in our most recent Board Slides.
What are we looking for?
Are highly innovative, with potential for broad adoption in the news community.
Useful to real-world media organizations, or born out of long-established newsroom experience.
Produce re-usable, open-source software that benefits the web as a whole.
How is our approach different? What do we want to do?
Empower tech people. Bring Silicon Valley-style innovation to news, instead of the same-old Old Media mindset.
Seek proposals from non-journalists and fund them.
Create challenges and pitch contests for entrepreneurs looking to fund really outside the box ideas.
Direct money to fund breakthrough innovations, instead of just specific stories.
Take more risk. Give out more grants, smaller grants, and ask different people to take that risk. People outside the traditional comfort zone.
Don’t just push the large players forward an inch. Focus on pushing the entire industry forward a mile.
Why is Mozilla interested in news?
To advance its mission of protecting the open nature of the Internet.
We want to ensure that the same ideas that make the web awesome — openness, generativity, co-creation, massive collaboration, “hacking” and Maker Culture — are embedded and embraced by news organizations around the world.
Our theory of change is: “The web is changing, and journalism is changing with it.”
Put another way: news organizations have a massive influence over the web’s future. The Knight-Mozilla project wants to ensure they change it for the better. And vice versa.
Working with news partners to disrupt the market
By working with some of the world’s leading news partners, we’re aiming for the broadest possible exposure of the new ideas that come out of our design challenges and fellowships.
We believe these ideas will be embraced by news organizations of all shapes and sizes, both ‘traditional’ and radically new.
The emphasis is on news partners that can host fellows effectively: embracing innovation and committing to really implement new ideas and software.
Protecting the web and journalism from new risks
Start-up frenzy is resulting in the “appification” of everything. This is reinforcing some negative trends:
encroachment on user privacy
less focus on the creation of free and open-source software.
We need to guard against market failure and business models that involve lock-in or threaten consumer choice.
And also financial failure. We don’t just need ideas, but also the financial models that can sustain those ideas.
Those models will take a broad range of forms. From ‘values-based’ start-ups to ‘public trusts’ to traditional news organizations to new for-profit start-ups.