Mar 11. Left brain, right brain


Ellen Weinstein and the New York Public Library Labs recall their process for "bit by bit" in this lovely blog post. Here's a taste:

Although I use paper and pixels in my own work, I am very much a front-end user. I consider it a victory every time I login to a website and remember my password. Like watching a flawless dance performance, the movement of code appears effortless until one attempts it on their own. I have come to appreciate the choreography and orchestration that happens on the other side of the screen.
The experience has made me curious and excited about new platforms for storytelling and the possibilities for image making beyond the printed page.The highlight was the actual collaboration with the wonderful team of NYPL Labs. Although it was unnerving at times to let go of total control over what my work would look like in the final product, by doing so we were able to make something together that we couldn’t have done on our own.

Read the full entry here. Thank you to Ellen and all the participants for an amazing three days!

Mar 11. NICAR 2014


Networks, science, and shoe-leather reportingThe Brown Institute sent six students from Columbia's Journalism School to this year's edition of NICAR, an annual conference in computer-assisted reporting. This year's conference was the biggest to date, with over 1,000 attendees. Read their individual reflections on anything from mapping and analyzing a network to retrieving that precious data or how conventional reporting enhances data work below.

Mar 08. CJR article on "bit by bit"

From the Columbia Journalism Review (read the full article.)

On Friday, Ellen Weinstein, an award-winning illustrator based in New York, found herself in unusual company. She was in one of the reading rooms at the New York Public Library, working with the members of NYPL Labs, who are trying to “re-imagine the library for the digital age.”

Six other similarly incongruous pairs were at work throughout the city, from Dumbo to Morningside Heights. Like Weinstein and NYPL Labs, whose members include multimedia artists, designers, and developers, each group was tasked with crafting a “story” in the broadest sense of the term.

They were all part of "bit by bit," a weeklong project in digital storytelling hosted by the Brown Institute for Media Innovation and the Columbia Journalism School... 

Mar 06. Queer Internet Studies Workshop

Jessa Lingel of the Bushwig Magic Grant Team is organizing a Workshop on Queer Internet Studies. She writes "Thanks to the awesome support of the Brown Institute for Media Innovation and Just Publics 365, I’m working with Jack Gieseking to organize a one-day series of conversations, presentations and art-making. As we gear up for April 4, we thought we’d spell out our main objectives for the QIS workshop." Learn more about this event!

Mar 02. Documenting a day, bit by bit


A couple images from this weekend's "bit by bit". We weren't quite prepared for what would happen. I suppose in retrospect, given the amazingly talented professionals we'd managed to recruit, we should have expected something magical. The afternoon was pure joy. Collaboration is not always easy, not always smooth. But each team told their story in an open, genuine, touching way. We will post 7 videos from the event in the next week. Thank you to everyone who participated! We are humbled by your talent and professionalism. 


(Photos by @jamechristie and @nypl_labs.)

Feb 26. A hard hat dinner


Last night, the Institute hosted a Hard Hat Dinner. We invited 14 artists, architects, journalists, entrepreneurs, and friends for a special event to celebrate the construction of our new space. The evening started with a tour of the Brown construction site which, as you can see, is taking shape! Then, becauase OSHA takes a very dim view of "civilians" spending a lot of time in and around ladders, open shaftways, and powertools, we moved upstairs to dine between two large projections of the space captured the day before -- Slowly moving videos panned around our space  downstairs as the construction crew worked. This was the backdrop for an evening of great food and great conversation. We'll hold two more of these to capture the progress of the construction as we get closer to our June opening date. Thank you to everyone who came... It was a lot of fun! Oh and a special thanks to Magic Grant recipients CityBeat for showing off their work before dessert! 

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Feb 25. bit by bit - March 1, 1-5pm, Pulitzer Hall


"bit by bit" is an event that joins seven renowned storytellers with seven prominent technologists in teams of two and challenges them to make something new together, mixing word and code, novel and database, algorithm and theater. And for the first time, they unveil their creations at a public conference on March 1. Learn more about the event here: and RSVP at

Feb 24. A weekend of story-making!


Our event "bit by bit" began Saturday with a student event -- We spent the day speculating, designing and prototyping new ways of telling stories. Lance Weiler and his team at Reboot Stories designed what might be best described as a second generation hackathon. It emphasized process, a thoughtful design process, that led our participants from their initial interests to prototypes. Teams of students were guided by a group of amazing mentors from the Columbia J-School, NYU's ITP, and even Vice Media -- Journalists, photographers, interaction and game designers, artists, and filmmakers. The day wrapped up around midnight with final project pitches and awards. The winning team's project was called "Things we carry" and was about how we share sensitive, personal stories that have shaped our lives. Congratulations to Jeffrey Bustos, Amarin Sam, Sharon Knieper, and Nikki Zeichner. Overall, it was an amazing day and a great start to "bit by bit". We would like to acknowledge support from AOL, Rhizome and Columbia University's Digital Storytelling Lab.

Feb 18. Explorations in digital storytelling 2/22-3/1


bit by bit is a week-long exploration and reflection on the powerful pairing of story and technology and the roles they play in society — discovering and reimagining the poignant and the persuasive, the confining and liberating.

bit by bit will start Saturday, February 22nd, with a group of student storytellers, hackers, makers, game developers and experience designers will coming together for a day full of experimentation, coding, networking and fun.

Then, bit by bit will join seven renowned storytellers with seven prominent technologists in teams of two and challenge them to make something new together. The teams will work February 27th and 28th, and we will follow the collaborations as they mix word and code, novel and database, algorithm and theater. Finally, the seven teams will unveil their creations at a public conference on March 1.

The Brown Institute is proud to acknowledge the support of Rhizome and AOL. Learn more about the event at

Feb 11. A platform for journalism


The Brown Institute invaded an otherwise unsuspecting eating establishment in the West Village to meet with an awesome group of journalists, linguists, and technologists. The goal: discuss the state of computation in journalism and explore the creation of a computing platform specific to the field. It was, hands down, the geekiest event you've ever attended, with animated discussions about documentation, object orientation and Flash. 

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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