Sep 25. Brown at Columbia is hiring!

We are pleased to announce two new positions for the Columbia wing of the Brown Institute. 

The first is a junior position, a "creative technologist," and is ideal for someone just graduating. This person will work collaboratively with members of the Brown Institute, students, faculty and other members of the Columbia and Stanford communities to develop new ways to inform and entertain. Because of the hands-on nature of the job, an ideal candidate should have a firm grounding in practicalities (be fluent in at least one programming language, have a history of learning new technological platforms, and have a general curiosity about how technology might shape narrative). This position will be appointed for up to 12 months, renewable for up to 2 additional years, contingent on performance and the continued availability of funding. Read more about the position at

The second position, which requires more experience and goes under the title of Chief Technology Innovation Officer (CTIO), will help conduct "creative research" that imagines new kinds of storytelling. This person will play both a high-level role assisting the Brown Institute directors at both Columbia and Stanford in designing seminars and workshops and administering the institute's various grant and fellowship programs, as well as working hands-on and collaboratively with members of the Brown Institute and students, faculty and other members of the Columbia and Stanford communities. This means that,  like the creative technologist position, the CTIO should also have a firm  grounding in practicalities. Finally, s/he might also teach a course in the Columbia Journalism School, with the goal of promoting the mix of technology and journalism in novel ways. This position will be appointed for up to 12 months, renewable for up to 2 additional years, contingent on performance and the continued availability of funding. You can read more about the position at

Please circulate widely!!

Sep 24. Climate, Data and Journalism


The Brown Institute and the International Research Institute for Climate & Society co-sponsored today's meeting "Climate, Data and Journalism: A discussion/workshop about the role of data in helping us to report better climate stories."

While researchers produce a great deal of data about the existence and effects of climate change, very little of it is readily available to a non-specialist audience in a user-friendly platform. Journalists don’t have the time to sift through terabytes of data to find what’s most relevant for their needs; they often don’t have the expertise to translate that data into stories, and when they do tell stories about climate change, they struggle to make a complicated, networked problem fit into the arc of a traditional news story.

This Climate Week event, organized jointly by the International Research Institute for Climate & Society and the Brown Institute for Media Innovation, will talk through challenges and opportunities associated with data-informed story telling — identifying  promising sources of information, innovative visualization methods, and avenues for the climate and journalism communities to come together to use narrative to raise awareness of and access to climate information.

The workshop includes keynotes from the Chief Scientist of Climate Central, Heidi Cullen (pictured above), the IRI's Walter Baethgen (pictured below), and Andrew Revkin from The New York Times. These talks are followed by a panel of journalists from The New York Times, Bloomberg and other outlets. Read more about the event here


Sep 16. Base Camp is back! Now for the Fall Session!


What is Base Camp?

The Brown Institute for Media Innovation at the School of Engineering at Stanford University and the Graduate School for Journalism at Columbia University invite you to apply for the second annual Media Innovation Base Camp on November 6-8, 2015 at Columbia University in New York. The Base Camp is a great starting point for students who want to explore the interplay between story and technology, creating new ways to delight and inform.

Our goal with Base Camp is to help students at each university develop new ideas that might lead to a one-year “Magic Grant” project -- You can read about the Magic Grant program here. At Base Camp you will work in interdisciplinary teams, with members from Stanford and Columbia. Brown Institute Fellows, industry experts, and faculty will be on hand to provide feedback, guidance, and support. You don’t need to have a fleshed-out idea -- the Base Camp is designed to give you space to develop your ideas, collaboratively.

Applications & Deadline

Up to 15 Stanford students and up to 15 Columbia students will be accepted to Base Camp. (Stanford students’ travel expenses will be covered by the Brown Institute.) At Stanford, applications are open to all student levels -- undergraduate, graduate and postdoctoral. At Columbia, we invite applications from graduate and postgraduate students. The application should include the following items:

1. A resume and, if you are currently a student, your latest academic transcript

2. A short description (maximum 300 words) of your vision for the future of media. How will technology transform the kinds of stories we tell, or how will telling new stories lead to new technologies? How might business models for media evolve? How do you think production and consumption of media will change?

3. A short description (maximum 300 words) of an idea or area of media innovation or a story that intrigues you and that you would like to develop further at Base Camp.

4. A short explanation about why you should be invited to attend the Media Innovation Base Camp.

If you are at Stanford, please address questions to Tanja Aitamurto at and if you are a student at Columbia, please address questions to Michael Krisch at

Submit your application to Applications are due by 9 PM (local time) on October 17, 2015.

Sep 15. Telling stories with maps


The world has always been a connected system, and it's only becoming more so. As a form of journalism, maps contextualize the world by visually linking events to each other and to their geographic surroundings. If your story prompts questions like "What caused this to happen where it did?" or "Does this happen the same way in other places?", a map can probably help illuminate things for your readers. Once the exclusive domain of specialized practitioners, new tools make it easier and easier to analyze spatial data and publish maps online. This series represents a kind of crash course in dealing with geographic data, designing elegant maps, and interpreting spatial data. 

Join Laura Kurgan of the Spatial Information Design Lab at Columbia on Friday September 25 at 5pm in the Brown Institute space for a lecture on cirtical thinking about maps. On September 26 from 10a-5p, Derek Watkins will lead a hands-on workshop about journalistic uses of maps (this event required registration, which has now closed). It should be a great two days!

Sep 14. First All Hands Meeting of 2015-16 Season


On September 11 and 12, both halves of the Brown Institute came together for the first "All Hands" meeting of its 2015-16 granting period. The event started with a wrap up of projects that were funded in beginning in 2014. These included a novel meta-tagging tool for images called VisualGenome, a 3d immersive video on Iranian artists titled Reframe Iran, and a tool called SearchLight to help journalists spot differences in the behavior of online services like search engines and ad servers. It was gratifying to see how far these projects had come in a year, producing prototype platforms, academic papers and rich pieces of journalism. 

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In the second half of the day, the incoming grantees and fellows worked through a project mapping exercise designed in partnership with the Magnum Foundation. Emma Raynes and Kate Fowler did an excellent job walking us through a methodical process to create a "map" of what the groups need to do over the year. Each project map included the team's goals, their collaborators, their "assets," and some notion of what success would look like. The teams were assisted by a group of facilitators, professionals with experience in their project area. The facilitators came from MoMA, The Met, The New York Times, The New Yorker, Microsoft Research, The Marshall Project, NYU and Betaworks. Quite a group!


We are grateful to everyone who helped make our meeting a success! Check back with us periodicallly to see how the projects are going! You can find a complete list of the new grantees and fellows here.

Aug 21. Brown & Magnum Partner -- Photography Expanded


The Brown Institute at Columbia’s School of Journalism is proud to partner with the Magnum Foundation to launch the 2015 Photography, Expanded Fellowship, an initiative that supports innovation at the intersection of technology and documentary practice and cultivates interdisciplinary ideation and production. This fellowship offers an opportunity for photographers to collaborate with technologists to expand their practices and to develop new forms for narrative storytelling to more effectively address social issues.

Magnum Foundation and the Brown Institute for Media Innovation are proud to award Photography, Expanded Fellowships to Peter DiCampo‘s “What Went Wrong” and Zun Lee’s “Fade Resistance.” Zara Katz and Lisa Riordan Seville will also receive a project development grant for Women on the Outside. These three projects exemplify the mission of the Photography, Expanded Program through their exploratory approaches to collaboration, exhibition, and dissemination. Pushing at the seams of documentary practice, they seek to fill representational gaps within the non-fiction paradigm of photography.

Based at the Brown Center for Media Innovation, Photography, ExpandedFellows will work with designers, coders, and advisors to develop platforms for sharing and engaging the public with their projects. Photography, ExpandedFellows will present their work during the Photography, Expanded Symposium on November 1st. 

Read more about the photographers that were selected and their projects. Congratulations to this cohort!

Aug 18. The Transparency Series begins!

The Transparency Series is a unique set of seminars and hands-on workshops that bring new technology and design ideas to the Columbia Journalism community. Our goal is simple — help students learn new ways to find and tell stories, new ways to inform and entertain. Each topic will commence with a Friday evening panel discussion and will follow with a Saturday hands-on workshop centered around building.

Students attending three of the seminar-workshops over the course of the year will receive a graduation award indicating the extra breadth they sought out during their time at the J-School.

The first in the series is August 29 on Data Visualization, and will be led by Amanda Cox from the New York Times. Have a look at the complete program here.

Jul 11. C+J 2015


Computation+Journalism Symposium 2015, October 2-3, New York City

Paper and panel proposals due August 14, 2015

The Computation+Journalism Symposium is a celebration and synthesis of new ways to find and tell news stories with, by, and about data and algorithms. It is a venue to seed new collaborations between journalists and computer and data scientists: a bazaar for the exchange of ideas between industry/practice and academia/research.

We are pleased to invite both papers and panels that explore the interface between data and computer science and journalism. We divide submissions into one of four categories.

Stories, visualizations, or other interactive experiences exemplary of outstanding journalism produced about or with data, code and algorithms.

Platforms that support journalistic work and which enable new ways of finding, producing, curating, or disseminating stories and other news content.

Research papers which explore a question of interest in journalism or information studies, or in data and computing science, as it relates back to journalism and news information.

Pedagogical innovations, describing how technology can be used in the teaching of journalism, or journalism can be used in the training in data and computer science and other branches of engineering.

This year, we are also soliciting panel proposals in these categories. A panel will consist of between 3 and 5 participants and a moderator, and should be thought of as a discussion on a topic of interest to the computation and journalism communities. Our goal with this line of solicitation is to surface new topics and extend the reach of the meeting to new communities.

We will judge sumissions in the separate categories - stories, platforms, research and pedagogy - on their own merits, but all should be reflective and seek to share knowledge that leads the field forward. For instance, submissions about stories or visualizationsmight explain the story as well as how it was enabled or constrained by technology; platform submissions might detail what is unique about the platform and how its design affords journalistic work; and research submissions might articulate a research question and contribution to state-of-the-art knowledge.

All submissions will be reviewed by experts in the field, and accepted papers will be invited to present the work in demo and oral sessions at the symposium. This year we anticipate relationships with two journals, the American Journalism Review and Digital Journalism, to help publish the proceedings of the symposium.

The work presented at last year's symposium can be found here.

Jun 13. In Face on Facebook

2014-2015 Magic Grantees Jessa Lingel and Adam Golub have just published a paper from the Bushwig project. "In Face on Facebook: Brooklyn's Drag Community and Sociotechnical Practices of Online Communication" appears in the June issue of The Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, and is likely the first paper published on how drag performers use social media. Here is their abstract.

Recently, Brooklyn has seen an explosion of drag culture, with dozens of performers taking the stage in any given week. Social media plays a vital role for members of this community, simultaneously allowing self-promotion and community solidarity. Drawing on focus group interviews, we analyze the communication practices of Brooklyn's drag performers, examining both the advantages and drawbacks of social media platforms. Using conceptual frameworks of faceted identity and relational labor, our discussion focuses on affordances and constraints of multifaceted identity in online contexts and theories of seamful design. We contend that by analyzing online communication practices of drag performers, it becomes possible to identify gaps between embedded ideologies of mainstream social media technologies and the localized values of outsider communities.

The full article is available from the journal site (you might need a subscription to view the articles in this journal). Congratulations to Jessa and Adam!

May 27. 2015 Internet Trends

Brown Advisory Board Member and partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Beyers, Mary Meeker, just released her 2015 Internet Trends report. Meeker has been publishing these reports since 2001, and TechCrunch calls them "the closest thing you'll get to gospel." You can read the full 197 page report, or the highlights edited by TechCrunch.

Established in 2012, the Institute is a collaboration between Columbia and Stanford Universities. Our mission is simple: Sponsor thinking, building and speculating on how stories are discovered and told in a networked, digitized world.


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