Taking a peek at a collaboration tool

Posted on April 28, 2011 by Janet Coats

From the beginning, the New Media Journalism Initiative has had connection at its core.

As I’ve noted here before, we’ve heard over and over again that there is a need for journalism’s innovators to better connect with each other. With so many people testing new ideas for how to serve communities, there is a need to learn from those experiments, to avoid reinventing the wheel from community to community.

There’s also a need for innovators to be able to support each other. From understanding business models to sharing best practices for engaging users to just venting frustrations, that need for connection is strong.

In the beginning of our work, we thought that there was a need for a single community – one place where all of those who are interested in developing journalism’s future could connect. But our journey has reminded us that journalism is no monolith.

In fact, one of the most vibrant aspects of journalism’s evolution is the development of a range of new networks, where people with varying interests in journalism are connecting and sharing. We’re interested in how those networks can grow and thrive, and we’re interested in the kinds of tools they need to help them best do that.

Today, one of the tools we’ve enabled is getting its public unveiling in a session at the Reynolds Journalism Institute at the University of Missouri.

We’ve been working with Lisa Skube, an RJI fellow, for the last 10 months on her effort to build a collaboration tool that would help innovators share. Lisa’s goal has been to build a tool that learns, that helps identify and connect people who have common interests and might be able to help each other. The tool would serve as a conversation center, a listening post, a library and a laboratory.

That tool, called the Journalism Accelerator, is being nested now within an existing network, Journalism That Matters – Pacific Northwest. This community will help Lisa and her team learn about how people interact with each other within the Journalism Accelerator, what attributes of the tool they most value and how the tool can best “accelerate’’ dialogue and learning.

Today, Lisa is demonstrating the tool and discussing what she’s learned as part of Innovation Week at the Reynolds Journalism Institute. You can watch it live on the RJI website here at 3:30 p.m. Eastern.

I’m looking forward to the feedback Lisa will get from the folks at Missouri, but I’m even more excited about what we will learn from the Journalism That Matters community as it puts the Journalism Accelerator through its paces.

While the immediate goal is to provide service to innovators in journalism, the thinking is just as valid for other communities seeking to learn and share. At The Patterson Foundation, that is what we call building connective tissue – and finding those connections, both within and across our TPF initiatives, is an exciting bit of business for us.

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