When enthusiasm is not enough

Sometimes I get really, extremely excited about things and I have trouble understanding why my effusive explanations and verbal fireworks are not compelling to people. I talked a bit about this difficulty in explaining things in a brownbag at Azavea today. (Thanks for the invite!)

Recently, my difficulty in translating enthusiasm into persuasion has been highlighted in my (mostly unsuccessful) campaign for everyone I know or encounter in the world to begin watching "The Americans." No matter how loudly or slowly I speak, most people just shrug and do not immediately begin watching the pilot on Amazon Prime.

I've tried to channel my frustration at my floundering persuasion skills into an opportunity to share some tactics for spreading excitement and actually connecting with other people that, you know, work.

Show rather than tell. A great example of this in action is a hackathon. A hackathon is a great way for someone to not just see, but also become involved in, the process of understanding what is so exciting about collaborative problemsolving. I find it hard to explain how that works without someone just *going* (which is pretty unsatisfying in trying to make the case to a boss, and we'll get to that in a minute), but when you're immersed in a good hackathon, it's this unparalleled experience of people learning and teaching one another without even realizing it's happening. The sharing is just what happens, seemingly by osmosis, and even six months later, a tactic or tool a teammate used ends up being just the thing to solve a problem, or that person is a new contact to email for help.

OpenNews at NICAR 2014

Baltimore view

The lobby of the Marriott in downtown Baltimore is already crowded with news nerds and the National Institute for Computer-Assisted Reporting annual conference has only just begun. A bunch of OpenNews staff and Fellows are in town and we've got a lot of exciting stuff to share with the NICAR community this year. This is your cheat sheet to where to find OpenNews and what you'll want to chat with us about.

Smart people working on a tough problem: NICAR news apps archive designathon

Sometimes I look around the room at a conference and am just awed by the intelligence and energy and generosity of everyone in the room. The annual NICAR conference, to me, is one of the embodiments of what is possible when you get smart people together to actually learn, teach, and talk with one another. Though NICAR is not focused on the news nerds community exclusively, it is one of the few events that brings a huge chunk of that group together in person. We learn and mentor one another, but don't necessarily get a lot of time to build, to do hands-on work with those colleagues at other newsrooms.

So this year, OpenNews is teaming up with the Pop Up Archive and Newseum to host a designathon the Sunday of NICAR. We'll take a brief roadtrip from Baltimore to DC to work together at the Newseum on the topic of archiving news apps. The idea was sparked by Jacob Harris and a discussion he ran at Newsfoo. On Source, Jacob laid out the archiving conundrum facing data journalists:

Celebrating investment in OpenNews and the journalism code community

Hack day participants

Today the Knight Foundation announced its renewed commitment to Knight-Mozilla OpenNews, with a $4 million grant. That's a whole lotta money. Big news. It's an investment not in a product, but in a community.

Earlier this year, the CEO of the Knight Foundation publicly asked for feedback about the Knight News Challenge and how to help their grantmaking have more impact. If I may be so bold: this is it. OpenNews has plans to build some amazing stuff, but more than that, this project is about acting as the connective tissue in the journalism code community. It exists to meet people where they are already at and support them in deepening their engagement, their skills, and their leadership in this community. It's rare that an organization has the chance to focus on building connections between people, institutions, and projects. But that's how we get to spend the next three years.