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Task Discussion

  • Nikki Usher   July 10, 2011, 11:31 p.m.

    Hi All:

    My name is Nikki Usher. I'm an assistant professor at George Washington University's School of Media and Public Affairs. Thanks to the kind invitation of the MoJo folks, I've been given the opportunity to follow along with you all through the learning lab. My research interests are broadly about the future of journalism, but for this particular project, I'm interested in learning about the way that journalists and technologists/developers work together and learn from each other. This is such a great nexus and so pioneering and we can learn so much -- which can be translated into real lessons for other people looking to work to think creatively about news.

    For the purpose of saving the Human Subjects Research Board at my University any pain, since you all qualify as research participants, please let me know if you do not want to be "observed" or included in any of this academic research or analysis for MoJo. That would mean that your comments or work assignments would not be included as part of the data collection. So it's opting out. 

    Please feel free to contact me at with questions. You can find out more about my work at - and thanks to Mozilla, and to you, for letting me share this process!!

  • Daniel Schultz   July 10, 2011, 10:03 p.m.

    Sup dogs,

      I'm a current graduate student at the MIT Media Lab aiming to come of age professionally over the next year or so.  I've been a techie by nature, passion, and social expectation for quite some time (I was the kid who carried around a laptop and wore a puffy winter coat indoors back in high shool).  I graduated from Carnegie Mellon in 2009 as an Information Systems major, and got involved with civic media in 2007 when I won the Knight News Challenge to blog on the PBS Idea Lab about "connecting people, content, and community."

      At MIT I'm in the 'Information Ecology' group (dedicated to making interactions with information more natural in physical space) and I'm a research associate at the Center for Civic Media.  The program here is quite flexible in terms of the types of projects that can be worked on, and I have spent time on things ranging from laser carving pumpkins to Augmented Reality applications for the iPad 2.  Also, I have officially been taught how to make almost anything, so there's that!  My ultimate interests lie in trying to unravel the key to online communities without resorting to individual-centric platforms.

      I'm very much looking forward to meeting everyone, getting some guidance as I hone in on a thesis, continuing to fill in skill gaps here and there, and generally having an incredible time here.  I'm also quite anxious to work with you all to re-invent the 4th estate, enhance our collective critical abilities, and save the human race through information.  

     - Dan

  • Tathagata Dasgupta   July 10, 2011, 10:02 p.m.

    Hello, fellow hackers and journalists! My name is Tathagata Dasgupta. Ohh, Forget it ... even people from my home country(India) could never pronounce it! So I'm T. (as in T-Rex). @Tathagata in twitter. Resurected blog at

    I made a quick and dirty mashup with Google Maps Api and scraped data of all the p2pu profiles of the participants ... Check out:

    • You might be thrown off by MILES in the map than your actual physical location, in fact I'm inside Lake Michigan according to it. RTFM for the dirty code ...
    • If a participant has listed his/her interest you'll get to see that by clicking on the avatar, along with a link to his/her p2pu profile.

  • Mark James   July 10, 2011, 10:01 p.m.

    Hacker not hack living in Sydney Australia. (The first lecture is 3am to 5am, but I'll survive.)

    I got interested in the business of journalism for two reasons:

    First, I became frustrated that statements couldn't be challenged in a way that pressured the original author to make a considered response, preferably by updating their story rather than by creating a new one. But one problem with wiki-journalism is that commercial considerations push journalists to maximise their column-kilometers. Which relates to my other concern...

    The over-reliance of the media on advertising, which increasingly doesn't serve the media, consumers, or advertisers very well. Is distracting users and feeding them dodgy information a necessary evil, especially when the other side of the Internet pincer motion is making the subscription alternative harder to sell? I've been looking at ways for the media to earn income directly from the help their material gives their users.

    Reading the intros, bios, and course schedule, I'm excited that there are other like-minded participants, as well as those who can teach me about other perspectives.

    My Lab posts will be done on a wikiblog. If you wish to comment on a post, you can not only add it to the bottom, or make improvements to the post by editing a copy, but you can edit a paragraph-by-paragraph rebuttal stream that appears alongside the post. So if I say something stupid, I'll be embarrassed not to fix it.

    During the lab I'll also be compiling a list of features that would form a perfect discussion forum. I invite you to make edits to this, and/or comment in rebuttal columns.

    Thank you to Mozilla and the Knight Foundation for this opportunity.

    "Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity."
         Horace Mann

  • manuel pinto   July 10, 2011, 9:21 p.m.


    Hi All, my name is Manuel and I am very happy to join and learn from you! I'm from Brazil and I live in São Paulo area. I'm an entrepreneur, geek, founder, developer, long distance runner and addicted traveler. I have lots of experience in the fields of machine learning, machine vision, big data and web applications. I love the art of crafting new applications and I am passionate about technology. I did research in machine learning & vision while at Profactor/Austria and returned to Brazil to become an entrepreneur. I have built and studied a lot of different things: 3D scanners for auto industry, data viz & crunching apps for the oil industry.... During this time I have been to several locations in US, Europe and LATAM. Last year, I decided to take on new challenges on consumer web and new media applications and started my second company where we are using web technologies to solve problems in people´s everyday life. Being accepted for the learning lab was a great surprise! I am very interested in understanding the dynamics of media, journalism, communities and web product design for global audiences. I am sure I will learn a lot from you and I promise I will do my best to contribute back. See you all tomorrow and let us all enjoy this experience! Best!

  • Michael Wells   July 10, 2011, 8:46 p.m.


    I'm Michael, I'm English, living in Surrey. I studied Maths and Computer Science at York. I now work freelance as a web developer. I also do one-to-one training, mostly helping retired people get on the web.

    This combination of mathematical training and personal experience with end users leads me to pursue simple, logical solutions to problems. Knowing what people will have the patience for is critical to the success of any project.

    I'm really looking forward to this. I think it will be fascinating to see what comes of all these brilliant ideas and how they get boiled down to something genuinely useful and significant.

  • Trina Chiasson   July 10, 2011, 6:42 p.m.

    Trina at WorkWhat up, everyone!

    My name is Trina and I'm a digital media geek. I work from my home office in Chicago and I love my job as a nonprofit web consultant. I get to play with computers all day, work on social justice projects, learn new web skills, and tend a windowsill herb garden.

    I've been living in Chicago for three years, but I'm originally from a log cabin in the woods of Maine. I've lived in San Francisco, New Zealand, New York City, both Portlands, Washington, D.C. and Hawai'i, and I've traveled to many other points on the map. I first started my web career because I wanted to live The Dream, which (for me) involved having a job that would enable me to roam the world with a laptop.

    Then I discovered a new passion. Working on web projects wasn't just a means for greater personal mobility—it was actually an awesome way to spend my time. Now I'm living a slightly different dream by immersing myself in online media projects that address social issues. Did I mention that I love my job?

    I also love new ideas, creative people, and interesting challenges. I'm psyched to work with all of you this summer to explore new concepts and develop tools that improve the way we produce, share, and receive information.

  • Travis Kriplean   July 10, 2011, 6:24 p.m.

    Reading through all of these introductions, I gotta say that I'm far more excited about Learning Labs than when I start reading the intros. Not only does the course look excellent, but so do all of you!

    I'm gonna be a bit lazy and post some of my previously written bio ;-)

    I am a Ph.D. candidate in Computer Science at the University of Washington, graduating this fall. In my work, I conceive of, design, build and deploy interfaces to nudge people toward more reflective discussion on the web, particularly for political deliberation. The tools I'm most proud of inventing are Reflect and ConsiderIt. ConsiderIt was deployed in the last election as the Living Voters Guide in partnership with Seattle City Club. These projects are funded by the National Science Foundation. I am lucky to be collaborating with a team of researchers from a variety of disciplines including Political Science and Communication.

    In the past, I've been a major contributor to the UrbanSim project, a simulation framework for projecting the effects of land use and transportation planning decisions 20-30 years into the future, conducted research on the social and technical dynamics underlying the production of Wikipedia, and led the technical effort at Flash Volunteer, a neighborhood-centric platform for supporting volunteerism.

    These are ALL open source efforts.

    If I'm not hacking, you can find me running in the mountains!

  • Andrew Jennings   July 10, 2011, 6:12 p.m.


    Hi all.
    My name is Andy Jennings and I, too, am excited to be in the course and get to know everyone.
    I'm a computer programmer and serial entrepreneur.  I love thinking about the big picture: how the world ought to work and ways to get us there from here.
    I recently completed a degree studying the mathematics of group decision making (social choice) and am involved with a non-profit, the Center for Election Science, to educate the public about better voting systems and promote the implementation of those systems.
    Some friends and I recently started a "social demand" website called where people can join together in asking for things to make the world a better place.
    I did some hacking on the first eInk device ever (the Sony Librie, only available in Japan), released a small open source program for it, and got to work with the team designing the original Kindle.
    And I have tons of other ideas for products, organizations, and  which could improve the world.  Hopefully I'll find the time to implement them all someday.  Luckily, this course has prompted me to start a blog (which I've been meaning to do for a long time) where I can share some ideas with the world.
  • Neil Dawson   July 10, 2011, 5:36 p.m.

    Hello everyone,

    My name's Neil and I'm a brand new Junior UX Designer at digital design agency near London, though I'm originally from Scotland. I graduated from Interactive Media Design at the University of Dundee last year, and it was there I attended the MoJo event back in May. Perhaps you've already seen this video which a few people retweeted:

    We planned, shot, edited and presented it in about an hour that day, which bagged us an impressive pile of free beer tokens!

    I have strong design skills, love applying them in new areas and care about net neutrality and accountability in the news media, so would like to learn more about these topics.

    Looking forward to learning with and from you all!

  • Nicholas Doiron   July 10, 2011, 5:35 p.m.

    Hi everyone!  Look forward to getting to know you all.

    I have studied engineering at Carnegie Mellon University, hacked Arduino in Uganda's Kibale Forest Preserve, made digital maps for ESRI, and reported on a new swingset for a 2nd grade class newspaper.

    This is my third course on P2PU (after teaching OpenLayers mapping and WebMadeMovies) and I've hacked with the open web before, too ( adding OpenStreetMap to Popcorn.js, and  During the lab I will be blogging on from Redlands, California.

    I look forward to using P2PU to learn things from real journalists and try out some ideas I have for highlighting interviews using open web technologies.

  • Sedef Gavaz   July 10, 2011, 5:29 p.m.


    Hello all! Sedef Gavaz here from London - I am a User Experience Consultant. For me UX involves three main areas: Research, Strategy and Design. 

    I’m really excited about the learning lab and can't wait to get stuck in with our first webinar tomorrow. I'm looking forward to meeting/interacting with some of you, learning from you and to the challenges we'll be set. 

    I would like to solve some of the issues around news and how it is communicated. I want the paperless news experience to be great.

  • Nicole Cifani   July 10, 2011, 4:31 p.m.

    Hey everyone, I'm really looking forward to starting the Learning Lab tomorrow and getting to know as many of you as possible - what an impressive group of folks we've got here!

    I'm Nicole Cifani, a new media producer/writer/instigator/DJ based in Santa Monica, CA.

    A few weeks ago I quit my job at Yahoo Music for a new position at Mobile Roadie. I felt ready for a change and can't wait to roll up my sleeves to begin learning about building apps. Prior to Yahoo, I worked in the New Media department at KCRW where I handled page buildouts, worked on their new media player, and built the station's social media presence from the ground up.

    I'm a writer for a few different sites including Indie Shuffle, LAist, and SeenAllOver. I'm also a DJ and enjoy volunteering with a few non-profit organizations on the side.

    I'm passionate about furthering the arts through technology. I'm particularly interested in making news Cool again.

    I'm an advocate for digital literacy, accessibility, and curating great experiences on the web and am ultimately an optimist, futurist, and restless information junkie who obsesses over online music experiences, social media, and thinking big! I write about it every so often over at my website

    Thanks for reading and for the opportunity here. I'm greatly looking forward to this.


  • Bharath Channakeshavaiah   July 10, 2011, 3:39 p.m.

    I am based out of Bangalore, India. I am an entrepreneur, web programmer and an interaction designer. I have been building news related web and mobile apps for about 4 years. My passion is with design, user experience, form factor, beauty along with the functional solutions I create using technology. I enjoy programming, brainstorming, shooting videos and swimming. My resume is here: and my Twitter id is: bharath_keshav

    Mobile phone software development stint of mine in Motorola made me addicted to web/mobile domain. I joined one of the startups as first employee and created a community website, which doesnt exist anymore. Many complained it was ugly. Later, I was part of the team that created Epic web browser, and then the lead developer of one of the newly launched news aggregator website. I have an CS engineering background with a masters degree in interaction design from Italy.

    I have been designing several concepts related to news delivery, and distribution. Some still haven't  made any sense to myself, but I have few in my pocket which I keep pondering upon during my freetime. Few things to highlight are related with Location based news, Augmented reality, Read news as a game, friend approaches you and you read the news your friend read, and many more such areas and abstract phrases that haunt me to create concepts around them.

    I am delighted to be a part of the group with such amazing variety of profiles. I am really looking forward to connect with you all. 


  • Matt Terenzio   July 10, 2011, 2:32 p.m.

    Hi, Matt Terenzio here from Stamford, CT. I've been building news related web apps for about ten years. Currently Web Development Director at The Hour Publishing Company. @mterenzio on Twitter will be where I blog and you can see a full resume at

  • Cole Gillespie   July 10, 2011, 2:02 p.m.

    My name is Cole. I am a 24 year old software engineer based in Raleigh, North Carolina. I am a musician, photographer, and entreprenuer. I am so extremely excited about the oppurtunity to be able to learn from the awesome list of people that mojo has chosen to present. You can find my code on the home page of National Geographic and in the depths of popcornJs

    Leading up to the learning lab I create a cool app for discovering new music to fuel everyones productivity throughout the learning lab. Check it out. Hopefully you can find some new music that will spur some more awesome ideas!

    I spend alot of time online, whenever I am behind my computer you can find me in the #mojo irc channel on Meet me there and introduce yourself! d^_^b

  • Dan Whaley   July 10, 2011, 1:12 p.m.

    Hi everyone!

    I’m based out of San Francisco, CA.  Like you all I’m interested in creating new functionality on the Internet that can help us sort through the noise to find the signal.  I think this capability is now squarely within our grasp, despite numerous false starts over the last decade (Third Voice, Stickis, Sidewiki, et al.).

    Solving this problem is my sole focus.  In pursuit of this, I’ve started a project called  The goal is to create an open-source framework to allow people to collaboratively reason together. If you’re not already familiar with it, you might check out this article on the argumentative theory of reasoning ( is a partnership with the Internet Archive, which will provide permanent storage for annotations.   Our initial informational website will be launching sometime over the next several weeks.  I've posted a short presentation below for now.  If you want more information, just message me separately.  

    I was the coder and entrepreneur that launched the online travel industry in 1995.  If you’ve booked travel online, chances are at some point you’ve used code I wrote.  My company (GetThere) was acquired by Sabre in 2000 and is now one of the largest transaction processing systems in the world.  I’m an advisor and director of several startups (one, GetAround, just won the 2011 TechCrunch Disrupt Cup). 

    I’m here to meet great people and learn about what others are doing.  It seems clear that this group is a potentially great crucible for ideas and talent.  In my thinking, given that we care deeply about this issue, we should all be working together to solve it!  Let me know if you’d like to talk sometime over the next month.

    I think the systems we build have to work for newsrooms (big or small, formal or informal), but I’m pretty sure that they shouldn’t be driven by the design requirements of newsrooms.  What we should all be building here is a toolkit for the web and functionality for the citizens that use it.  Whether newsrooms choose to innovate quickly enough to make use of this functionality and to organize themselves in a way that is competitive long term is a separate question.  These may be good topics to blog about, right?

    You can follow me on twitter at @dwhly and at @hypothes_is. 

    I’m looking forward to learning together with all of you!


    Here's a little slideshow on

  • Zoltán Varjú   July 10, 2011, 12:15 p.m.

    My name is Zoltán Varjú but please just call me Zoli. I'm living in Szikszó, a small town in North-Eastern Hungary. I'm a linguist advisor at Weblib LLC where I'm working on projects in the field of semantic search. I run a blog on (computational) linguistics - here is the hungarian blog, and here is the English one - with three other guys and we are in cooperation with the Nyelv és Tudomány (Language and Science) popular scientific on-line journal.


    I love linguistic data and linguistic computing and i'm a big fan of the OKFN. I studied linguistics and philosophy and I love reading about logic and philosophy of science in my free time.

  • Amy Zerba   July 10, 2011, 11:50 a.m.

    Hi Knight-Mozilla Learning lab team.

    My name is Amy Zerba. I'm a journalism professor at the University of Florida. I am absolutely thrilled to be considered in this pool of talent and listen to the amazing speakers lined up. I'm here to take in new approaches and learn news skills from the very best. Thanks for having me.

    For the past decade I have been examining how to get more young adults interested in following the news. I've conducted focus groups, lab experiments, surveys, in-depth interviews and, most recently, enthnographies in young adult newspaper newsrooms (also called youth tabs) to study this issue. Needless to say, I have a lifelong career ahead of me.

    As a former journalist and news junkie, it saddens me that more and more young people tune out of what is happening around them. How can news be more engaging but inform with facts and fairness? I struggle with this question in my own research and in my teaching.

    My passions are in graphic design, building websites, shooting video stories and discussing issues in journalism. I want to learn more about developing mobile apps and programming.

    In the learning lab, I hope to really hash out my ideas for engaging younger audiences but also brainstorm with others about their ideas for audience engagement. I crave diverse perspectives, and conversations about journalism excite me. I so look forward to our four-week journey.

  • Noah Echols   July 10, 2011, 11:40 a.m.

    Hello everyone! I am really excited about this opportunity and would love to get to know more of you, especially if you're in the southeast US - i'm in Atlanta.

    I'm Noah Echols, the digital media manager for the Center for Sustainable Journalism. The Center runs experiments aimed at finding new models of ethically-sound, financially sustainable journalism.

    I'm a digital culture fanboy who is fascinated by the sociology of online communities.

    My submission to the Unlocking Video competition was an idea birthed in a conversation in the office between myself and Clay Duda, a multimedia journalist for (one of our projects). We will both be sitting in on these webinars and sharing the experience together for as long as we are invited to participate. 

    You can get both of us on Twitter: @nvechols and @clayduda