For three years now, Northwestern University has offered classes in which journalism and computer science students form teams and try to solve a problem in media, publishing or journalism. One project from the class led to the creation of a startup company, Narrative Science. Others have fueled the work of the Knight News Innovation Laboratory, a joint program of the journalism and engineering schools at Northwestern.
Nine teams in the latest "Collaborative Innovation in Journalism and Technology" class will be presenting their work in Evanston from 6-8 p.m. on Wednesday, June 6. Because it's a natural for our group, we're making this a Chicago Hacks/Hackers event as well. If you can't attend, the event will be live-streamed (and archived) at http://bit.ly/Collab-Innovation-Spring2012.
Here's a rundown of some of the projects that will be presented on June 6:
- Local Circle: A lightweight app that makes it easy for groups of websites to share and display related content.
- CampaignTrac: A tool for tracking and visualizing the language by political candidates, as well as identifying shifts in rhetoric over the course of a campaign.
- TweetSweep: A utility for publishers that analyzes the content of an article and recommends hashtags that would maximize its audience on Twitter.
- Untangld: A tool helping investigative reporters save and annotate the results of research on the Web (as well as proprietary databases such as Lexis-Nexis).
- Refine: A visualization system that helps users find and explore the comments they’re interested in within a long stream of comments like what you’d see on a high-traffic news site.
- PrintF, a WordPress Layout Engine: A WordPress plugin making it easy for a web publisher to change home page layouts based on different mixes of content on a particular day.
Faculty for the class are me, Associate Prof. Larry Birnbaum (computer science) and Associate Prof. Darnell Little (journalism). Jeremy Gilbert and Zach Wise of the Medill faculty have helped advise some of the teams.
From experience with these classes, the best projects will demonstrate "proof of concept" ideas that deserve to be developed further. The faculty and the leadership team of the Knight Lab will decide which of these projects have the greatest potential to be useful to journalists, publishers and/or media consumers. The most promising projects will be developed further by the students themselves, by Knight Lab developers or by a combination of the two.
Come see the students' presentations. We'll set up an online survey for you to let the faculty know which projects you're most interested in seeing developed further.