What is MoJo?
MoJo is an abbreviation (Mozilla + Journalism) for the Knight-Mozilla News Technology Partnership, a 3 year project that will place creative thinkers with open web skillsets within 15 news organizations for yearlong, paid fellowships. Knight-Mozilla fellows will be tasked with developing new journalism tools built on open technologies.
To find and cultivate the 15 fellows with great ideas, we will host a series of innovation challenges, online workshops, and in-person hackfests (or MoJoCamps)
Currently, the Knight Foundation and Mozilla are the primary partners. We launched with 4 news partners who will host some of the first fellows: BBC, Boston.com, the Guardian, and Zeit Online.
We welcome any individual or organization interested in solving journalism's technology challenges to participate in the growing community that is supporting the project.
Who is the Knight Foundation?
The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation advances journalism in the digital age and invests in the vitality of communities where the Knight brothers owned newspapers. Knight Foundation focuses on projects that promote informed and engaged communities and lead to transformational change. For more, visit www.knightfoundation.org.
Why is Mozilla interested in media and journalism?
The news industry is a major player in the web space, and it is at a crossroads. Many players are making important web technology decisions and investments that will shape how we experience the web for years to come. We want to provide news organizations with open technology options as they make those decisions.
Because news it as the center of many people's web use, this is an opportunity to reach a huge population with Mozilla's open web values and working open technology.
Is this initiative intended primarily for journalists, developers, or both?
To be succesful, we'll need a diverse set of minds coming to the table and offering ideas. We hope that the cohort of fellows will be a diverse group with backgrounds in web development and design, journalism, and more. It's possible that there is an artist or a statistician out there with a great idea and the skills to implement it, and they are very welcome to enter an innovation challenge and win a fellowship.
Who is eligible for a Knight-Mozilla fellowship? How do I apply for a Knight-Mozilla fellowship?
Anyone who participates in one of our upcoming news innovation challenges is eligible for a fellowship.
Fellows will be selected from those who advance from the innovation challenge to complete our online course (aka "the learning lab") and our in-person hacking event.
What kinds of organizations are eligible to host Knight-Mozilla fellows?
We want to place our fellows at host organizations where they will experience day-to-day production of orginal news content. The first criterion for organizations that will host fellows is that they are news-producing. In today's world, that could include a lot of organizations. People who complete the fellowship will not only demonstrate their technical (or creative, design) chops, but they will also become experts in implementing innovations within the news-production context.
If your organizations supports, but does not produce, journalism, consider partnering with news organization to request a fellow.
How can I get involved?
The first step is to sign up for our community list serve for announcements and to join the conversation:
What do you mean by "the open web" and "open technology?"
Implementations we develop through MoJo will be built using open standards, and widely shareable and remixable by any news organization and other interested parties.
We're also interested in developing mobile news implementations, and are interested in HTML5 for mobile over native applications.
Here's an interesting background post on this issue from one of our news partners, Zeit Online: http://www.informationarchitects.jp/en/news-on-ipad-the-obvious-way/
How do the innovation challenges work?
Over the coming months, we will host a series of challenges, asking people to offer solutions to specific news technology problems. Anyone can enter the challenge by submitting a basic description of their idea and some supporting media (pictures are great). We'll have a voting period to get feedback on the proposals, and select a limited number of people to continue on to the next phases - an online workshop (aka "the learning lab") and our in-person hacking event. The most promising hackfest participants will be invited to participate in the fellowship.
When is the first innovation challenge happening?
We are building the challenge platform now and expect to launch the first of 3 2011 challenges in the spring. In 2012, we will launch 3-5 more challenges, so there are many windows of opportunities to enter.
Are you concentrating on large news organizations or small ones?
We want the mix of organizations that host fellows to be representative of many sides of the news ecosystem, so we hope to work with some smaller organizations. We also need to ensure that fellows will be working in organizations that have the capacity and investment in innovation that will set them up for success, and the Partnership's success will be judged partially on how widely the technologies we develop are adopted. These needs suggest that we should include larger organizations with strong capacity and influence. Balance is key; check out a recent post on the question here: http://nathanieljames.org/blog/2011/02/10/mixing-it-up-engaging-news-partners/
I don't speak English very well or live in the U.S. Can I still participate?
Unfortunately, it will be very challenging to participate without a working knowledge of English, as we don't have the resources to localize our materials at the pace we will be working.
We already have 3 partners that will host fellows outside of the US (BBC, The Guardian, and Zeit Online) and are actively looking for opportunities to expand to other regions.
Anyone in the world with web access and working English skills should be able to participate in the challenge and the broader conversation we are hosting. While we anticipate some challenges (eg visas, cultural differences, etc.) working internationally, this project will be most valuable if we face them.
Who is Mozilla?
The term Mozilla is originally used for three distinct entities:
the codename for the Netscape Navigator software project
the official, public, original name of the Mozilla Application Suite, currently known as SeaMonkey
the mascot of Netscape
You say the news industry is facing a number of big technology decisions. Can you give some examples?
One of the big issues facing news organizations is adoption of open technologies, including open source and open content. Proprietary systems and formats have been the norm in many news organizations. Many of these systems rely on vendor support for maintenance and extending functionality, and don't easily interoperate with other systems. Rapid change in media formats and display devices has lead to confusion over codecs and wrappers, and incompatibilities across the growing array of user interfaces. Yet open source and open formats are reaching maturity, and may prove more useful and sustainable over the long-run. Given the competition for market share by the dominant players in media formats, browsers, and supporting software, how the news industry responds is a critical factor in determining the future of online media: open and interoperable, or closed and proprietary.
Another looming issue is digital preservation. We still have films from 100 years ago, because the physical medium of film can last 100 years. How much of the digital media we produce today will be accessible 100 years from now? Without deliberate and systematic digital preservation, almost all of it will likely be gone. This means preserving the original full-resolution files, and migrating them over time as technologies change. Digital preservation also depends on having good metadata at the item level for each digital media object. Most news organizations aren't in the business of cataloging or digital preservation, and haven't made the needed investments to preserve digital media over time. Trusted digital repositories for news media content don't yet exist at the required scale. And while cloud-based solutions seem promising, issues of ownership and persistence of these commercial services have barely been considered.
What kind of software is MoJo going to produce?
How can what MoJo is doing help to inspire those training the next generation of journalists in higher ed now? More directly, what projects will MoJo produce that a j-school professor with only moderate training can jump on and run with?
Most news organizations (especially older ones, but new ones, too, to a lesser degree) are "innovation-challenged." I.e., they examine many new innovations, may like them, but then ignore follow-up or actual implementation. (My news-innovation career is long enough to have seen this happen ad nauseum.) How can newsroom-"embedded" MoJo's succeed in fighting that dysfunctional culture when so many news technologists who have gone before them have failed (and often left the news organization in disgust)?
Q: What puts the mojo into MoJo?
A: MoJo rocks because it sponsors new journalism which will influence the way we experience and consume journalism. That's the mojo in MoJo.