The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
Photo credit: Flickr user Samuel Mann
In a 2011 essay, MIT’s Joichi Ito championed the idea that the architecture of the Internet and free software have slashed the cost of innovation so much, that it’s cheaper to try something than to “sit around and try to figure out whether to try something.”
In this spirit, last summer we launched the Knight Prototype Fund, which helps journalists, technologists and tinkerers take that first step, bringing media innovation projects from idea to demo. This is our attempt at grantmaking gone lean.
Following a mantra of fail fast, fail forward, the fund offers small teams six months and up to $50,000 in funding to build and test core assumptions needed to prove - - the viability of a tool, technology or approach. We want to test more ideas, find out what works and help scale projects that show promise.
As part of the initiative, we encourage teams to embrace human-centered design, rapid & lo-fi prototyping and iterative development models to quickly pivot and connect solutions to uncovered needs. We want to learn and improve - before moving to the bigger, more expensive steps of building out a full project. And as we learn, we want to share with others working on similar problems.
So what are we experimenting with? Today, we are excited to announce eight new projects receiving grants from the Prototype Fund:
The Prototype Fund has a simple, rolling application with no deadlines.
PS - The Knight News Challenge on Open Gov is accepting submissions until March 18. Some of the projects mentioned in this post originally came to us via last year’s News Challenge. We make an active effort to funnel interesting projects to the right program at Knight Foundation, no matter how they come to us.
By Chris Barr, media innovation associate at Knight Foundation
Related: "8 Experimental Tools To Change Media For The Better" in Fast Company, "Knight funds tools to fight street harassment, gender imbalance, and data without context" in Nieman Lab and "Data and UGC tools among projects to receive prototype funding" in Journalism.co.uk