Mar 09. Magnum Foundation Lab


Applications are due 5pm EST on Tuesday, March 31, 2015.

The Brown Institute is pleased to announce a unique set of events, co-organized with the Magnum Foundation, called the "Photography, Expanded Lab: Digital Narratives." Selected Columbia Journalism School students will join other selected participants - practicing photographers, journalists, designers, and engineers - to collaborate to develop new projects focused on social justice or human rights issues.

The documentary landscape has been radically altered by massive cultural and technological shifts over the past decade – from the emergence of social media reporting and smartphonography to data journalism. Photographers and journalists are now faced with incredible new challenges and opportunities to shape visual storytelling for social impact. So while independent reporters are adopting emerging digital tools, news corporations and media startups are also moving strategically into interactive journalism, to produce more immersive and shareable stories.

The Photography, Expanded Lab is comprised of a panel presentation, followed by a two-day intensive workshop. The panel will examine a wide range of innovative approaches to documentary storytelling across digital media, while the workshop offers a deeper dive into the application of online and interactive strategies and tools for long-form documentary photography stories.

Selected participants are required to attend both the evening panel on Tuesday, April 28 and the two-day lab on Saturday & Sunday, May 2 - 3. Interested Columbia Journalism Students can read more about the event and apply here.

Mar 04. Maneesh Agrawala, Next Director of Brown @ Stanford


Prof. Bernd Girod today announced on behalf of Stanford University that Prof. Maneesh Agrawala has agreed to serve as the next Director the Brown Institute at Stanford. Prof. Agrawala is currently a faculty member at UC Berkeley. He will be joining the Computer Science Department at Stanford in the fall at which point he will assume his new role as Brown Institute Director.

Prof. Agrawala's own research interests are an ideal match with the mission of the Institute. He has done seminal work on design principles for visual communication, interactive tools for digital storytelling, and the perceptual and collaborative aspects of visual analysis techniques. His teaching, which includes courses in visualization, human computer interaction, and computer graphics, connects computational thinking and design thinking. He also co-taught the very first short course on computation and journalism at SIGGRAPH 2008.  Stanford is very fortunate to have Prof. Agrawala return to Stanford after completing his PhD degree here 13 years ago, and Prof. Agrawala is very excited about his new role at Brown!

Prof. Girod will to continue to lead the Institute until the end of the acadmic year, and will stay involved as a regular faculty member and a member of the Institute's Advisory Boar

Mar 03. Countdown to Magic Grant Deadline!

The deadline for Brown Institute Magic Grants and Fellowships is now FIVE DAYS away (March 8)! Recall these are funds that can support you for either a short term (like a summer) or for a longer project (like a year) for up to 150k. We are interested in the interplay between story and technology — perhaps creating a new platform for finding and telling stories, or telling a unique story in a new way.

At Columbia, to help you best formulate project proposals, we are offering 1-on-1 office hours. To attend a 1-on-1 slot, you must first submit a 1-2 paragraph project pitch to so that we can best help you refine your idea. These 30-minute slots will be held in the Brown Institute with both myself and with Michael Krisch, and are on a first-come basis. Make your request online at

Lastly, if you have any questions about the process or a potential grant/fellowship, you can also email us at

Good Luck!

Mar 02. Brown space in Metropolis Magazine


The February issue of Metropolis Magazine features the Brown Institute Space! Its unique program is discussed in detail with the institute's architect and lighting designers.

Last fall, the university opened a state-of-the-art, high-tech newsroom on the ground floor of its 1912 McKim, Mead, and White–designed historic Pulitzer Hall. The renovated space was a gift from longtimeCosmopolitan editor Helen Gurley Brown in memory of her late husband, David. “I think the school wanted to create a space that shows it is actively addressing the very significant shifts in journalism,” says Marc Tsurumaki, principal of LTL Architects. “So incorporating digital interaction, flexibility, and fluidity into the media lab was really important.”Leaving the floor plate as open as possible, the New York–based architects removed most of the space’s interior partitions and subdivided offices. They opted to house the office spaces via a suspended mezzanine above a series of meeting rooms overlooking a large collaborative work environment.

Congratulations to LTL Architects and to BuroHappold Engineering and to everyone who helped design and construct our home. Thank you!

Feb 26. Gordon Wetzstein on light field display

Stanford professor Gordon Wetzstein was our guest speaker at a recent Brown Media Innovation Lunch. If you weren't able to attend, you can watch a video of his talk here

Feb 06. Join us Feb 25 for Terms of Service Book Launch Party!


Please join the Brown Institute in celebrating the book launch of "Terms of Service: Understanding Our Role in the World of Big Data," a comic novella by J-School alum Michael Keller and Josh Neufeld. "Terms of Service" examines the role of technology and the implications of sharing personal information online, and is available through Al Jazeera America at

The event will take place in the Brown Institute for Media Innovation on Wednesday, February 25 at 6pm. Please RSVP at

Feb 06. Bernd Girod elected to the National Academy of Engineering

Prof. Girod, the East Coast Director of the Brown Institute, has just been elected to the National Academy of Engineering "for his contributions to video compression, streaming and multimedia systems." At Stanford Prof. Girod, wears many hats -- Not only is he the Director of the Brown Institute, but he is also the Senior Associate Dean for Online Learning and Professional Development, as well as the Robert L. and Audrey S. Hancock Professor in the School of Engineering. Read the Stanford Press Release and visit the NAE election site. Congratulations Bernd!

Feb 02. Why should we care about Light Field Displays?

The Brown Institute at Stanford's net Media Innovation Lunch will include a talk by Prof Gordon Wetzstein about so-called "light field displays," a novel and inexpensive computational display technology. Register here. 


Jan 30. BBC visits Brown and Stanford, features Magic Grantee in story.

Editors from the BBC visited Stanford last fall armed with questions about the future of news. The BBC spoke to Brown's leadership team, students and Magic Grantees to learn about the Institute's projects and ongoing research. Matt Yu, a PhD student in Electrical Engineering and a member of the 2014-15 Magic Grant team "Reframe Iran," discussed how new technologies might result in more personalized television content. "... there is so much information ... there needs to be a way to automatically decide for you, or to help you filter out all the things you don't want to watch and help you find what you do want to watch," Yu told the BBC. Watch the full clip (frames 6:04-6:40) and find out more at the BBC's newly launched "The Future of News" site.
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Jan 22. Boots Up! First Brown Institute Base Camp brings two campuses and many paths together


Jan.16-18:  They came, they met, they brainstormed, they prototyped, they presented.

It was the Brown Institute's first West Coast Base Camp, designed to bring together 10 students from Columbia and 10 from Stanford to learn the basics of Design-School skills, think big thoughts, and share ideas, all with the goal of developing ideas and building bi-coastal teams for next year's Magic Grant proposals.

The group got going with a round of lightening talks from Stanford faculty and Brown Institute Fellows, then formed six teams and got down to a weekend of work building prototypes that were presented to a review panel Sunday morning.

Problems targeted information sharing among disenfranchised groups, harnassing the universe of data for use by fashion bloggers, verifying Defense Department data for journalists to keep the government accountable, using virtual reality in new ways to tell the story of human impact on oceans, building a network for freelance journalists, and identifying and surfacing conflicting "facts" in news stories.

"I liked that I forgot half way through who was from Stanford and who was from Columbia." That sentiment appeared to be shared by all.


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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