Join our Round 2 Full Proposals – 2007 Knight News Challenge

E-Democracy.Org, submitted 11 proposals directly and we signed onto two other proposals in round one of the 2007 Knight News Challenge.

The value of this kind of grant challenge is the requirement to condense an idea into a few hundred words. Most of ideas we submitted will likely find a life in future funding proposals over the next few years. However, quite excitingly, two of our wiki-drafted proposals made it to round two – Specify. Then Build. and the Local Mashup Tool as did the two other proposals (one includes extending/open sourcing the MyBallot.Net tool we host for a volunteer). I noted earlier I am a small winner of the 2006 Knight News Challenge as an “Ideas” blogger.

With a major speaking engagement this week and Thanksgiving, we’ll be working on the full proposals the last week in November to meet their November 30th deadline.

To strengthen our chances, we are interested in leveraging in-kind contributions (like offers by universities to host the proposed programming sprints) or partners who can bring needed expertise or the possibility of additional funding. We specifically seek volunteers for a potential list of citizen media and engagement practitioners willing to take part in a very open and public citizen media feature specification effort (the idea – open specification/module selection, competitive building across multiple open source content platforms with programming sprints and prizes).

Also, if you think your organization or you yourself as individual could effectively execute a portion of the proposal better than most for a piece of the pie, let us know. Please read the drafts below and be very specific about what you can do and for how much. No promises, just possibilities.

Contact us at:

See the wiki for all 11 draft submissions. For convenience, here are the project descriptions from the projects still alive in the 2007 News Challenge:

1. Specify. Then Build. – E-Democracy.Org’s proposal to leverage competitive spirit to develop innovative citizen media tools

Problem: Low budget citizen media projects pick their software, then craft a hidden or undisclosed specification based on that software. Solution: Separate the specification process and make it highly public, then have fun challenging leading open source content management communities to build high need citizen media modules. We proposed to tap the talent of multiple open source development communities to implement a number of citizen media features in a competitive manner with prizes and funded programming sprints. Citizen media practitioners will first be tapped to compose very public and very open specifications on the top three to five software needs for their community – this will include online and in-person convening. Then programmers active in different open source developer communities will be invited to join a competition to build working software via funded programming sprints with final product prizes awarded based on a number of factors. Tools would then be released as modules for use across multiple open source platforms.

2. Local Mashup Tool – E-Democracy.Org’s proposal for a nifty easy to use open source content management system modules for aggregating and displaying user-generated content from multiple popular sites

For novice citizen media sites, quickly gathering and presenting the local user generated content is a pain. We seek to ease that pain. Imagine this … Enter geographic tags: minneapolis Enter content tags: news, politics, government, community [Generate Mashup] … Embed this HTML in a page to display. The Local Mashup Tool is a proposed open source module based on a shared specification for Drupal, Joomla, Plone, and GroupServer to support the easy aggregation of geographically tagged content by entering one set of keywords/tags. By encouraging the use of a particular or unique tag across a community, citizen media project can instantly leverage and display local content from YouTube, Technorati,, etc. We will monkey with APIs so you can focus on the content. This tool will create a greater incentive for the creation of locally focused user content based on a real-time channel to such content for a community.

Steven Clift

P.S. I am considering pulling the Local Mashup proposal into the Specify. Then Build. proposal as the pre-named technology pilot exercise. I will also be adding to “citizen media” the phrase “and engagement” to better leverage the Rural Voices grant-funded work already underway.

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