A Columbia School of Journalism documentary film student and a PhD candidate in the Rutgers University School of Communication and Information will tell the story of a drag renaissance taking place in Bushwick, Brooklyn, that is enlisting and extending social media platforms for the “identity curation” that happens in the drag community.


Ensemble is a Web platform created by Joy Kim and Justin heng that provides structure to collaborative storytelling. In Ensemble, one person is assigned the responsibility of managing creative direction, and can then enlist a crowd of friends or strangers to perform various tasks – such as contributing narrative direction or developing a character's back story – with an ultimate goal of creating more engaging stories by drawing from the different personal viewpoints and experiences of a group.


A collaboration between The New York World housed in Columbia Journalism School, and the Social Media Information Lab at Rutgers University, this project will look for newsworthy events in the patterns of real-time, geotagged social media feeds.  (Half of this project’s budget will come from the Tow Center.)


A collaboration by Richard Socher and Rebecca Weiss, Gistraker is a Web application that analyzes the sentiment of language used in news media. Users will be able to create filters and explore visual summaries of how different media outlets cover specific actors or issues of interest, which could reveal instances of media bias.


Developed by Pranav Dandekar and David Lee, Widescope is an online social media platform designed to crowd-source federal and state budget proposals to drive greater consensus on budgets and budget deficits. Users can design a budget – for example, proposing greater funding for education and less for defense, or vice versa – and then interact with other users to restructure various proposals to arrive at a single consensus.


A team of graduate students and recent graduates of the Columbia School of Journalism and the School of Engineering and Applied Science will create a system for tracking censorship in authoritarian regimes post-publication (i.e. when a story is revised or deleted after publication).  The team will create real-time assessments and monthly reports of journalistic improprieties around the globe.

Storytelling with Augmented Reality (STAR)

A project proposed by Hao Su, Matt Yu, Roland Angst and Peter Vajda, STAR will experiment with using augmented reality software on mobile devices in combination with location –and viewpoint-aware storytelling. The group hopes to foster more interactive and immersive storytelling by displaying a video stream of virtual content that overlaps with live images of the physical world as viewed on a mobile device.

The Declassification Engine

A partnership between faculty and students in the Departments of History, Statistics and Computer Science at Columbia University, this project will probe the limits of official secrecy by applying natural language processing software to archives of declassified documents to examine whether it is possible to predict the contents of redacted text, attribute authorship to anonymous documents and model the geographic and temporal patterns of diplomatic communications.  (Half of this project’s budget will come from the Tow Center.)

Connecting the Dots: Building Dynamic Maps of News

Team Members: Dafna Shahaf and Seth Myers of Stanford. Faculty Advisor: Jure Leskovec.

The NIFTY site


Dispatch: A Mobile Publishing Protocol for Conflict Reporting

Team Members: Kanak Biscuitwala and William Bult of Stanford; Mathias Lecuyer and Madeline Ross of Columbia. Faculty Advisors: Prof. Augustin Chaintreau, Prof. Monica Lam, and Prof. Susan McGregor. Industry Partner: Chris Haseman (Tumblr).

Project Tumblr.

Personalized TV News

Team Members: David Chen, Andre Araujo, Sam Tsai, Maryam Daneshi, Huizhong Chen, and Peter Vajda of Stanford; Brendan Jou, Hongzhi Li, and Joe Ellis of Columbia. Faculty Advisors: Bernd Girod and Shih-Fu Chang.

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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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