It’s a handy bit of timing that next week’s Mozilla Festival will nicely mark the end of my third month heading up the Knight-Mozilla News Technology Partnership. The Festival marks the culmination of both Mozilla’s year and the Partnership’s as well, with the announcement of the five Knight-Mozilla Fellows for 2011/12.
It also marks the start of a sprint toward the 2012 iteration of the Partnership, which I’ve been thinking about pretty much since my first day of work (actually, since my second day—my first day of work was thinking about how the hell to deal with Bugzilla). Over the next few days, I’m going to be blogging about some of that thinking, mainly around the themes and opportunities in which I think Mozilla can play a role in helping to move journalism into an exciting, dynamic, and sustainable future.
From today to Friday, I’m going to share thoughts around the hacker-journalist community, around peer-to-peer teaching and learning of journalistic tools, around the role of making and building in journalism’s future, and finally about the five fellows that will be announced on Friday.
But I wanted to tee things off today with a brief look at growing excitement around open-source code and how it can help produce kick-ass journalism and how that can, in turn, help produce kick-ass open-source code—full circle.
Last week Matt Thompson wrote a great piece for Poynter that looked at “the somewhat sudden and very public uptick” in journalists sharing their code with others. It followed a piece in Nieman Lab a few weeks ago that in turn grew out of a panel I put together at ONA that was itself influenced heavily by a post by Chris Groskopf. In Thompson’s piece, he hits on some of the best reasons for doing open-source work in the journalism community. Hometown pride makes me glow that much of his attention centers around the excellent work being done by the Chicago-based Tribune News Apps team, but there’s incredible work being done with an ear towards openness by teams around the world.
That’s the real opportunity here: Not only do we strengthen the coding community inside journalism when we build open projects, but we also help strengthen the larger open-source community as well by putting valuable code out there, committing to other open-source projects, and generally being open and awesome.
It’s that philosophy of open-source being a two-way street (you get and you give while you influence and are influenced) that I think the Knight-Mozilla News Technology Partnership holds at its core. Espousing that philosophy at scale is the real challenge for the program in 2012. I’m so excited to take it on.
Your thoughts, ideas, etc, are most welcome. Tomorrow: Building a community around code.
PS. This series of blog posts is very much inspired by Mark Surman’s writing about the opportunity he sees for Mozilla to help create a “web-literate planet,”. They’re a great read.
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