This course will become read-only in the near future. Tell us at if that is a problem.

Final assignment: Software product proposal

Deadline: August 8, 2011 5:00pm Pacific

Submit using this form:

View current submissions

The final outcome to the four-week learning lab is a proposal for an open source, software idea that will improve the way that online news is produced or experienced. Sound lofty? Yes, yes it is!
Over the course of the learning lab we aim to provide you with an opportunity to develop this proposal – from concept to design. Based on an assessment of the weekly assignments, final projects and general participation during the course, 20 individuals will be invited to Berlin (expenses paid) for a four-day 'hack-a-thon' the last week of September.
Read on for more on what we’re looking for…
The idea
The final outcome of the Knight-Mozilla learning lab is a one to two page (800 to 1,000 words max) proposal – that includes a “show and sell” pitch, design document and business brief – for a software product to be integrated into a news organization.
Build upon an idea you submitted as part of one of the challenges (open video, comment systems or web apps) or pitch an entirely new idea. We encourage you to think big and bold…but, with one caveat: consider the viability of your project for the newsrooms and end users of the product.
And, keep in mind that your project idea is solely for the purposes of this lab – to the extent that your idea is short-listed, you won’t necessarily be required to work on it in Berlin.
Here are a few technical parameters for the product idea you pitch – it should:
  • Live and breathe in the browser, be it a desktop browser or a mobile browser;
  • Focus on very real needs, which can be verified by testing with users;
  • Be developed via an open and transparent process that welcomes feedback and collaboration.
Target audience
When submitting proposals like this it’s important to always keep your audience in mind.
The target audience for this proposal includes the Mozilla community and our news partners (Al Jazeera English, BBC,, Guardian UK, and Zeit Online). Consider the various individuals -- technical and non-technical -- who may read your proposal including editorial, marketing, sales, online strategy leads and senior management.
When reading your final project, we will be considering your wider audience and evaluating whether you have written to that audience.
Proposal structure
Your proposal should contain the following elements:
Part 1: The “show and sell”
The first step is to grab us with your idea. In one to two minutes (or less), “show and sell” us your product idea – making sure to include info about who you are, what your concept is, why it's unique, useful and how it works.
Here are a few ways you might deliver your pitch:
  • Option 1: Record a one to two minute video spot and post on YouTube, Vimeo, or another video sharing site;
  • Option 3: Upload a slideshow and accompanying audio ( / Slidecast).
Part 2: A design document or prototype
Help us understand how your project works by providing us with a design document or product prototype (paper, HTML, or whatever form is most comfortable to you). We want to understand how you'd plan to implement your idea. Though technical specifications for a prototype are not required for the proposal, you should plan to include diagrams, pictures or photos to explain the design of your product.
Provide us with some insight into how this product could leverage off a newsroom's existing infrastructure and be integrated into its operations. How would it be built collaboratively with reporters, editors, other newsroom or open-source developers, and -- most importantly -- the end-users.
In this section you should also address challenges and unknowns. What are the big open issues that need to be resolved, or are questions a reasonable person would ask? Identify them and demonstrate you’ve thought about those issues – ideally with a credible plan, or plan for a plan, for resolving.
Part 3: A business brief
Imagine yourself pitching to the managing editor of a news organization. How will you explain to them about why this product will facilitate telling a story? What problem does your product aim to address and the solution it provides? Who will benefit from it? Who are your competitors? Does your product leverage off other tools/apps/platforms already out there? In short, why does it make sense to build from a news organization's perspective?
How to submit
Use this form: final proposal can be submitted as a link to your blog post (with links as necessary, e.g.: YouTube, Scribd, Slideshare, etc.)
Feel free to also post a link in the comments to get feedback if you'd like!
Deadline: August 8, 2011 5:00pm Pacific

Task Discussion

  • John Bell   24 augustus 2011 12:36

    To follow up the request below, is there any kind of feedback planned on the final submissions?

  • Phillip Smith   9 september 2011 11:30
    Reageer op:   John Bell   24 augustus 2011 12:36

    Hi John,

    My apologies for the slow response. I headed out for a couple of weeks of holiday after the lab's conclusion and I'm just back officially this week.

    A few folks have asked for feedback and I'm confering with Dan Sinker, the new Knight-Mozilla program lead, on this question.

    At the moment, I would say that it's unlikely that we'll be able to provide feedback simply because the resources aren't available to do so, and we didn't ask the reviewers for feedback that could be published or shared.

    In most cases, the final projects were highly rated and received great reviews, but -- simply -- there were only twenty that could move forward.

    Hope that helps a bit. If we can figure out a way to share feedback from the review panel, we'll certainly try to make that happen.


  • Saleem Khan   17 augustus 2011 08:15

    Hi all,

    I've had a couple of interesting weeks, between a run-in with thugs while recording MozNewsLab videos ahead of the final project, hard drive crashes leading up to the submission deadline, a major system crash immediately after the deadline that kept me offline until this week, a just-discovered error at Vimeo that served up the wrong video, a lost wallet with all of my critical ID and cards, and a water main break in my neighbourhood in sweltering heat. So, I didn't get to post my project here before now, but here it is:

    Investigate Net: Micro-collaboration for journalists.

    It solves a specific problem faced by journalists in the less-developed South, which also affects those in the wealthy North in a different way: Lack of access to critical but often basic information and sources. It solves the problem through micro-collaboration — small scale, peer-sourced information retrieval and delivery — with the added benefit of fostering ongoing collaboration.

    This proposal describes core functionality (the information gathering and exchange process) but would obviously have other elements (sign-up, profile, etc.) that are not detailed here.

    I'm committed to building Investigate Net and have already received interest in its application, so if any of you are interested in helping out, please let me know.



  • Jeremy Gilbert   10 augustus 2011 11:33

    Here is the next iteration of Newscaster, a web app initially intended for use on tablets. The app allows users, specifically targeting teens, to build and watch their own video newscast.

  • Philipp Tsipman   10 augustus 2011 09:45

    My final project, folks.  #dataviz  Ping me if any of you would like to collaborate!

  • Katie Zhu   10 augustus 2011 09:10

    Following a very hectic few days after my hard drive crash... I have my full, final pitch about Roundtable here:



    Roundtable is a web platform connecting people, news and ideas.

    Readers, journalists and experts are all invited to the table to share their opinions, exchange ideas and resolve issues. Together at the Roundtable, news becomes debate, conversation, an experience. 

    PDFsFull Proposal | Written Pitch | Design Document | Business Brief
    MediaWireframes | Video Pitch | Time-lapse Prototype

    Would love to hear feedback and any final thoughts! It's been a pleasure.

  • Travis Kriplean   10 augustus 2011 04:16

    Thanks everyone for the wonderful experience.

    Thought I'd post my project here :-) Lots of video editing at work!

    Feedback very welcome!!!

  • Raynor Vliegendhart   10 augustus 2011 04:47
    Reageer op:   Travis Kriplean   10 augustus 2011 04:16

    Wow, that's a great video! :)

  • Sedef Gavaz   9 augustus 2011 20:13

    Hi there!

    Wow - it's been an epic journey and to top it all off, here is my final project - New news: Related articles to related content

    And my video too (which I had so much fun making!).

    Thanks for a great time MozNewsLab, for great speakers, participants and definatly the best team for organising it all and keeping us on track!
    It's been super :)

  • Shaminder Dulai   9 augustus 2011 16:38

    UPDATE: Vimeo embeds changed to YouTube embeds. (Why no Vimeo love P2PU?)


    I see folks are posting their videos on this thread, great idea!

    Here's two videos that are featured in my write up:

    Introducing VidScribe


    A walk-though of the paper prototype


    I'd love, no LOVE! to hear what you guys think. And if you'd like to learn more or are interested in a collab, check out the full write up and get in touch!



  • Shaminder Dulai   9 augustus 2011 16:43
    Reageer op:   Shaminder Dulai   9 augustus 2011 16:38

    So it seems I can't embed a Vimeo file here.

    I know that means less of you will click the link to see the video, but I promise you it's worth it*



    Introducing VidScribe


    A walk-though of the paper prototype



    *My mom thinks so at least.

  • Philipp Tsipman   10 augustus 2011 09:52
    Reageer op:   Shaminder Dulai   9 augustus 2011 16:38

    Integrating with the SpeakerText CaptionBox might be great for this, Shaminder!

  • Rhiannon Coppin   9 augustus 2011 16:30

    Hey all!

    I posted my design and business brief yesterday but I finally managed to encode and post my sw33t video pitch.

    If you are interested (it's about mobile video... eyes EVERYWHERE...'little brother' watching...), here you go:

    - - - -

    I also wanted to say thank you to the handful of labbers who stuck around to give feedback on my pitch at the end of last Friday. There were a few products that you guys pointed out that use similar technologies and before I had enough time to research them, I was afraid my idea was "done."

    It's not.

    What i want to create does not exist yet; but the similar networks and systems that have been launched around mobile photo and video collection seem to be getting a lot of business, and that is a very positive sign.

  • Shaminder Dulai   9 augustus 2011 18:23
    Reageer op:   Rhiannon Coppin   9 augustus 2011 16:30

    Very polished video and I liked how you broke down all the steps for how it works. The micropayent asspect is interesting as well.

  • Jamie King   9 augustus 2011 15:56

    A small, late, post-MOJO update on the SPARKD project :) Greetings from the riotous UK!

  • Miguel Angel García Ramírez   9 augustus 2011 11:53

    I'm checking the proposals and there are great ideas presented.

    If you have time check my project. I think there are some collaboration oportunities with other proposals.


    I want to thank the learning lab organizers for their great support and organization.

  • Matt Terenzio   9 augustus 2011 09:47

    Thanks for all the help from both lab leaders and participants. Introducing FollowThis

  • Daniel Schultz   9 augustus 2011 07:39

    Yeah that's right it's 7:39 AM.  So what?

    Took about 12 hours longer than expected but so it goes ;)  Here's my pitch


    "So why is this a more powerful project? Well, the real goal of ATTN-SPAN isn’t to get more people watching C-SPAN. In fact I tricked you: this project isn’t about government awareness at all. It’s actually part of an effort to make indisputable fact (“blunt reality” and “primary source footage”) a more prominent part of the media experience without requiring additional effort from the audience. Newsrooms do an amazing job of reporting events and providing insight, but for deeper stories there simply isn’t enough time or money to cover everybody’s niche without going beyond the average person’s attention span."

  • Kabir Soorya   9 augustus 2011 05:16

    Here's my proposal, video enclosed.

  • Corbin Smith   9 augustus 2011 02:05

    Just wanted to share my video here, everyone!

    (You know, for saving you from having to read my whole written post.)

  • Neil Dawson   9 augustus 2011 03:11
    Reageer op:   Corbin Smith   9 augustus 2011 02:05

    Great video! What did you use to create the animated typography?

    Your comment that digital news is just print news in a digital format reminds me of this Scott McCloud TED talk where he mentions the "classic McLuhanesque mistake" of mistaking the "shape" of the old medium for the "form" of the new. He was of course discussing print and digital comics, but it's the same idea.

    My project is actually very similar to yours, in spirit if not style. I think lots of people in the lab wondered how we could make it easier for people to find reliable sources.

    Perhaps we should collect together the best ideas from projects with similar themes.

  • Julien Dorra   9 augustus 2011 04:49
    Reageer op:   Neil Dawson   9 augustus 2011 03:11

    Wow, I missed that Scott McCloud did a TED talk! Thanks for the link. Even if his idea of very long vertical scrolling comics never took off, it's still a great idea for people who want to explore the comics/web relationships.

  • Shaminder Dulai   9 augustus 2011 18:06
    Reageer op:   Corbin Smith   9 augustus 2011 02:05


    Very nice video and I like the example of the using the birthers issue as a familiar way to show me how I might use this tool.

    @Neil I believe that's either After Effects or Motion at play with the moving text. At least that's what it looks like. I don't think there's any freeware out there and doing it with LiveType would be too time consuming.

  • Corbin Smith   9 augustus 2011 18:17
    Reageer op:   Shaminder Dulai   9 augustus 2011 18:06

    Good call, Shaminder. It's an illustrator file animated in AfterEffects.

    For someone who wanted a similar zoom-in-and-out effect, you could use Prezi, and convert the Prezi file to a video.

  • Raynor Vliegendhart   9 augustus 2011 01:46

    Spent a lot of time yesterday on creating and editing the video, but it was worth it. :) Anyway, like the others, I'm also going to post my stuff here.

    Blog post


    Okay, time to check out the other final projects... :)

  • Julien Dorra   8 augustus 2011 22:24

    Here it is too for reference and further indexing :-)

    «MetaFragments gives to web tools, mobile apps, browser and search engines a simple way to explore, connect and share the inside content of web videos.»

    Introducing MetaFragments, a common format for timed metadata in HTML

    PS: Eating my own dog food, I will add a MetaFragments transcript of the video inside the blog post html later tomorrow – it won't be visible to the human eyes, so it won't change much to the post!

  • Julien Dorra   11 augustus 2011 04:14
    Reageer op:   Julien Dorra   8 augustus 2011 22:24

    Update: I added the MetaFragments equivalent of the YouTube video subtitles to the post.

    That means that there is a machine readable version of the subtitles available directly in the page, in a format that respect the HTML5 spec.

    The subtitles are hidden via CSS to the human eyes, you can take a look at the HTML code by viewing the source:

  • Andrew Jennings   8 augustus 2011 21:09

    I submitted a couple hours ago, but I decided to post here too:

  • Rhiannon Coppin   8 augustus 2011 20:20

    Why, oh why? I have an awesome video pitch (my opinion) and I can't post it.

    My blog... well...  I have to go through and fix the formatting. Yeesh.

    I'll comment here again when I've fixed it.

  • Daniel Schultz   8 augustus 2011 23:04
    Reageer op:   Rhiannon Coppin   8 augustus 2011 20:20

    What's the trouble you're facing with posting the video?  Anything you could use help with?