In preparation for a roundtable discussion this weekend about the Knight Foundation’s commission on the information needs of communities, a few of us decided to survey past News Challenge grantees. A big thanks to Chris Amico, Will Mitchell, Max Linsky, and Lauren Rabaino for helping out with various parts. We wanted to pull together data like how many of the projects are still active, whether the grantees started their projects before receiving funds, and whether the amount they received was sufficient to achieve their objectives. On a program-wide scale, we wanted to know the percentage breakdown of content vs. education vs. software projects, the average lifespan of a project, and what type of institutions typically received funding. Some of this we were successful in collecting; some, not so much. All of our data is available as a Google Spreadsheet. Continue reading “Preliminary results from our informal Knight News Challenge survey”
Startups: Not for the faint of heart. Pro consulting on the side until your bootstrap revenues are sufficient.
Yesterday, I off-handedly had an idea that could be a business model for news organizations: vetting advertisers. Under the assumption that an organization practicing journalism builds its credibility though truthfulness, transparency, and accuracy, there exists the possibility that they could then monetize that credibility by taking product claims through the ringer. Not selling out, per se, but rather by selling time and attention. Companies would pay you because they want to be associated with your authority; in order to get this authority, however, they’d have to surpass a set of open source criteria. We shouldn’t be taking the human touch out of advertising because then, every so often, you get something like this:
at the bottom of an article about bottled water and greenwash advertising. In my opinion, Lighter Footstep is now sending two contradictory messages: bottled water is killing our environment, and that I should pay a premium to have bottled water shipped from the South Pacific. This juxtaposition is broken because the misleading advertising has the opportunity to negate the value of the journalism.
Later: Dave Winer speculates on a “Digg for ads” which falls under this same idea of vetting advertisements (although crowdsourcing this time).
CoPress, an initiative on its way to becoming a non-profit organization, has submitted another grant application. We’re building a better technical eco-system for student news organizations, which means that we’re creating the tools and means for the techie kids at student newspapers to share ideas, collaborate on code, and generally work together to develop really legit websites. To do this, though, will require a bit of effort (which we’re already been putting forth) and a bit of money (which we as students don’t have much of).
Ashoka’s Changemakers has a pretty cool competition called “The Power of Us: Re-imagine Media” that might help us out. The winner(s) will receive $50,000 towards their project. If you vote for us, which we very much hope you do, it might just be CoPress.
Amy Sample Ward just alerted me that “Mobilizing Mobile Records in Resource Poor Settings“, a project Isaac and I pitched for the NetSquared/USAID Development 2.0 Challenge, has made it into the top 15!
Wow. So sweet. I’m not entirely sure what the next steps are, but this is a huge stride forward for bridging the gap between SMS and OpenMRS and empowering healthcare providers.
The cool thing about grants is that they will often fund the neat idea you have. The not-so-cool thing is that they generally take a lot of work and luck to be accepted.
My good friend Isaac Holeman and I entered an application on Friday to NetSquared/USAID’s Development 2.0 challenge. They’re looking to give $10,000 dollars to a project using mobile technology (like SMS or phone-based applications) that “[maximize] development impact in areas such as health, banking, education, agricultural trade, or other pressing development issues.” We think we’ve got just the idea.
We’d like to put together a bridge between mobile phones, potentially FrontlineSMS, and OpenMRS, a super neat medical records system that is beginning to gain a lot of traction in Africa because of Paul Farmer’s Partners In Health. Specifically, this would allow community health workers in the field to access and interact with the medical records database. This would, for instance, allow them to instantly query the last time a tuberculosis patient had reported taking their treatment medicine. Isaac and I are also very interested in sorting together an OpenMRS module that would “watch” the data going in and out of the database. If a bit of data passed through tagged with, say, “#emergency”, it would go to whomever the on-call doctor was. This type of functionality, as far as we can tell, doesn’t already exist. We think it would be sweet if it did.
Now, most of this project is in the very preliminary stages. With your help, though, and funding from NetSquared/USAID, we can take it to the next step. Here’s the details:
- Voting started on Monday and will run until Friday at 5:00 pm Pacific.
- To vote on our application, you must first register.
- Once you’ve registered, you then have one (1) ballot with up to five (5) votes. You have to vote at least three (3) times.
Our application is called “Mobilizing Medical Records In Resource Poor Settings“. We would be very much obliged if you took the time to vote for us and, if you do and leave a comment on this blog post, I’ll send you a personal thank you.
Also, if you don’t know who else to vote for, there were a few other projects which caught my eye:
- Providing Business Opportunities Information To Farmers And Producers Via SMS
- QuestionBox – Democratizing Information and News for the Illiterate, Poor and Unconnected
- Building A Sustainable Supply Chain For Portable Appropriate Technology
Most importantly, I think these types of projects show that mobile connectivity has tremendous potential to empower positive change. We think our project can do the same for healthcare. Thanks for the support!