Sabine Pearlman, Austrian photographer, in 2004 moved to the United States, the official website: http://www.pearlmanphotography.com/
It’s amazing how quickly time moves. It doesn’t seem that long ago that I was announcing that I was joining the Knight-Mozilla OpenNews project. And it doesn’t seem much longer after that that we were announcing our first, then our second, round of Knight-Mozilla Fellows. And yet I’m rapidly approaching two years on the job, that first round of fellows are alumni, and the second round are well into their fellowship years. And today—though it seems nearly impossible in my brain—we’re announcing the opening of applications to become a 2014 Knight-Mozilla Fellow.
Year three of our Fellowships, which place developers and technologists with news organizations for 10 months of hacking, experimenting, and building new open-source tools for journalism, has an incredible slate of news partners, some returning and others new to the partnership:
- New York Times
- ProPublica in New York
- Texas Tribune in Austin, Texas
- La Nacion in Buenos Aires
- and a joint fellowship with Ushahidi and Internews Kenya in Nairobi
This year we wanted to partner with an array of newsrooms—from the very large to the very small—and place our fellows with development teams that are both well established and just starting to grow in order to capture a broad spectrum of journalistic experiences, ideas, and realities. These partners will each play host to a fellow (Ushahidi and Internnews will be sharing one fellow), who will be able to dive deeply into journalistic problemsets with some of the best practitioners in the world.
While solo in the newsroom, fellows rarely work alone—collaboration is baked into the Knight-Mozilla Fellowships, both inside the newsroom, virtually (and often in-person) with your fellowship cohort, and with the the rapidly growing community of journalist-coders. The community of fellows—there will be 13 alumni in 2014—is another indispensable group for new fellows to tap into.
The Knight-Mozilla Fellowships offer visionary coders, data geeks, civic hackers, engineers, and technologists the opportunity of a lifetime: 10 months to write open-source code with impact, to travel the world, to engage in dynamic communities, and to create tools and projects that help the world to learn more about itself. This is an exciting moment in journalism, and you can be right at the center of it.
If you’re interested, apply. We’ve made the application really easy—just five quick questions and some links. There’s nothing stopping you except the calendar: You only have until August 17th to get your application in.>
Last week, we learned that the U.S. government is using secret surveillance programs to collect vast amounts of our personal data from Internet and phone companies. If true, these revelations represent a stunning abuse of our basic right to privacy. Many troubling questions are being raised, including what this means for the future of the Internet. Here at Mozilla, we strongly believe that when users fear government surveillance or are unable to know when, how and why their private data is being collected and used, a free and open web becomes impossible.
That’s why Mozilla is launching StopWatching.Us — a campaign sponsored by a broad coalition of political and tech organizations. We’re calling on citizens and organizations from around the world to demand that the U.S. Congress reveal the full extent of the National Security Agency’s spying programs.
We don’t want an Internet where everything we do is secretly tracked, monitored and logged by companies or governments. And we don’t want a government whose actions are invisible and unaccountable.
Please add your name to the petition:
When my wife and I were first dating, we’d talk on the phone constantly, the way that new lovers often do. She lived on the south side of Chicago and I was up on the north side and I kept crazy hours at work, and so we’d connect by phone when we couldn’t connect in person. And those conversations would range the way those conversations always do: hopes, dreams, work, laundry.
I was working one of those ridiculous long nights we often had during production of Punk Planet, the magazine I ran back then, and I was idly chatting with my girlfriend on the phone about a story we were working on about Iraq. This was back probably in 1999, when the crippling sanctions on Iraq since the first Iraq war had mostly been forgotten and we were one of the few news organizations (if you could even call us that) still trying to keep that story alive. This was thanks mainly to the work of a single guy, Jeff Guntzel, who would send us dispatches from the country when he’d travel there with the activist group he was a part of. He’d also occasionally call us from a business center in Baghdad—his voice a raspy whisper through the amount of static and noise on the line.
I was working on the layouts for one of Jeff’s stories and was excited to tell this girl I was trying to impress more about it. But, as those young love conversations do, we moved off-topic pretty quickly, jumping from one topic to the next. I don’t remember much about those conversations now, but I still remember the distinct click the phone made when we switched from talking about the Iraq story to discussing her misadventures at the local laundromat earlier that evening.
That click became a regular occurrence on our office line—popping up as you’d move towards or away from more politically charged topics—and was followed not long after by intractable problems with our office phone line. Occasionally you’d pick up the phone and, instead of a dial tone, you’d get the digital static of a modem; other times you’d pick up and there’d be a few moments of silence followed by a click and a dial tone. Mid-conversation you’d sometimes find your voice beginning to echo, then snap back into normality. And of course, sometimes the phone would stop working entirely, and a bewildered customer service representative would mutter words about things being “flagged” before putting me on hold. The line would usually start working quickly after those service calls.
Finally, after an extended period of bad dial-tones and calls getting cut off, the line just entirely went dead. A particularly dogged technician came to the office. He spent time in our space, time in his truck, time up on a pole. If I remember right, he even drove to one of the main switches near us. Finally he came back, looking completely bewildered and said, “I really don’t know what to tell you. It’s almost as if your line goes somewhere else before it comes to us.”
This was before September 11. This was before the PATRIOT Act. This was before Bush was elected and Obama after him. This was, obviously, almost a decade and a half before this week’s revelations of governmental phone metadata collection and the NSA’s PRISM project. We were a tiny magazine—at the time, our readership probably hovered somewhere around 10,000. And yet there was this technician telling me what I’d already deeply suspected: Our line was going somewhere else.
I wish I could say I was outraged by the NSA PRISM project, by the collection of cellphone metadata, by any of it. I am disturbed by all of it, disappointed for sure, but outrage would imply that my worldview was shattered. But the world I’ve lived in for a long time is the world we’ve all been plunged into with the revelations this week. My worldview that things might be different than they are went away a long time ago, broken by the clicks that came up through the line as two young lovers shared their secrets over the phone.
“Like to live in a 60th story apartment overlooking Lake Michigan, park your car 18 stories high, ride an elevator to your boat? Then move into - Marina City.”
April 1963 issue of the magazine Popular Science with a cutaway diagram of Marina City by illustrator Ray Pioch.
Handsome mascot for the Chicago Seaplane Base which was located at Navy Pier, 1942, Chicago.
From the New York Times, on the end of Karen Berger’s 30-year run at Vertigo Comics.
Mr. DiDio [co-publisher of DC Comics, which owns Vertigo] said it would be “myopic” to believe “that servicing a very small slice of our audience is the way to go ahead.”
“That’s not what we’re in the business for,” he added. “We have to shoot for the stars with whatever we’re doing. Because what we’re trying to do is reach the biggest audience and be as successful as possible.”
Vertigo comics, for those of you that don’t know, is the publisher of such groundbreaking pieces of fiction as the Sandman comics, Y The Last Man, Hellblazer, V for Vendetta, and a lot a lot more. It is a publisher who found its strength through *exactly the opposite thing* that DiDo is describing: Sandman’s 75 issue run had multiple storylines that were lifted from Shakespeare for god’s sakes.
These were not comics created to “reach the biggest audience and be as successful as possible,” they were comics created for very specific audiences. “Small slices” of people that loved those books passionately and who spread the word, person by person, until they rippled out past their four-color-printed pages and, in some cases, transformed society itself.
Of course, trying to “reach the biggest audience and be as successful as possible” isn’t a problem specific to comics (few problems actually are). It’s something I’m always hearing when talking with people making things:
Well, I’m really making it for everyone.
Well, then go ahead and stop because you’ve already lost.
“Everyone” isn’t an audience. “Everyone” is a byproduct of an incredibly successful thing that was made for a far more specific bunch of people. Don’t ever make something for “Everyone” make it for someone. And make that person love it.
I listened to an overwhelmingly amazing podcast the other day with Sam Simon, one of the original creators of the Simpsons. Most of the interview focused on his battle with cancer, but he also talked about when he and Matt Groening worked together creating the show. And he mentioned that there were two writers he wanted to bring on board, but they turned him down. And the rest of that season, he wrote the show for them—he wanted them to think it was funny. For Simon, that was the test: Did those two people think it was funny—not network execs, not focus groups, and certainly not “Everyone.”
Jesus, I *hate* Facebook, and you don’t get much more “Everyone” than that thing now, but it didn’t get gigantic building for “Everyone,” it got gigantic building for Harvard students, then Ivy League students, then more and more and more. Go ask all your friends on Google Plus how well building for “Everyone” from the start went
When you begin with “Everyone” you’re just stuck: How do you make any honest decisions? How do you solve any real problems? You don’t. You start to invent people and you start to invent their problems and it’s amazing because those people and those problems line up almost exactly with what you’re building and how you’re thinking about it—imagine that. Lying to yourself is amazing for productivity.
Real audience is hard. Solving real problems is fucking bananas. But it’s the only way you make something that lasts, because you made something that someone actually cared about.
Every amazing comic that Vertigo comics published wasn’t written for “Everyone.” Every person that read them knew what I knew when I read them myself: This comic was written just for me.
That. Do exactly that. You’ll be fine.