Knight News Challenge: Entries Related to Voter Information and Policy Making

Journalism and Media

Update 2015/03/19: Adding more proposals as the become available.

Lots of interesting proposals flooding in as part of the latest Knight News Challenge on Elections (see our coverage here) as the deadline looms (5pm Eastern today).

Here are a few noteworthy examples related to providing better voter information, encouraging civic discourse, policy making and more (in no particular order).

Collaborative fact checking:

Civil civic discourse and bridging partisan divides:

Policy making and issue-based learning:

Community engagement capacity building and infrastructure:


Expect lots more to arrive over the next 90 minutes.


Arizona State University to Host “By the People” Conference


Arizona State University just announced they will be hosting a conference on “participatory democracy, civic engagement and citizenship education”, aptly titled “By the People”.

From the conference website:

[...] The event will be designed to share research findings, engage in provocative and meaningful discussions, learn from accomplishments and failures, and be inspired by innovative approaches, strategies, policies, tools and practices.

The conference will bring together academics, students, practitioners, researchers, appointed and elected public officials, teachers, administrators, members of community organizations, and all those interested in participatory democracy, public engagement and citizenship education. The conference will combine academic presentations with practical workshops, We are interested in attracting theoretical and empirical contributions that are related to the three conference themes.

The three conference themes cast a fairly wide net. On the digital engagement side, desired topics include:

  • Online participatory governance; E-democracy
  • Online and hybrid civic engagement

See the full call for proposals (PDF).

Via David Beasley on Twitter.


Feedback Labs Launches Toolkit


Earlier today, Feedback Labs announced the official launch of their toolkit, a curated collection of examples, guides, and tools related to new forms of technology-supported stakeholder engagement in the area of international aid, philanthropy, and government services.

According to the email, the toolkit “represents our first step toward aggregating our community’s knowledge around closing feedback loops.” What are feedback loops? The about page explains (emphasis mine):

Who We Are

Feedback Labs is a consortium of like-minded organizations committed to making governments, NGOs and donors more responsive to the needs of their constituents. Each of us, through our own work, has endeavored to put citizens front-and-center and together we aim to make inclusion, trust, and empowerment standards across our field. Together, we endeavor to bridge communication gaps between everyday people and institutions to meet the pressing needs of communities.

Why We Are Coming Together

We are at a critical point in history where prioritizing citizen feedback has the potential to unleash massive, timely, and necessary changes in the way development is pursued. This field – which we term “feedback loops” for lack of a better name – is still uncharted and unbounded. While its potential is enormous, the concept lacks consistent vocabulary, principles, accepted best practices, and reliable measurements. We aim to help provide the structure and design principles that will maximize the effects of global citizen engagement efforts.

Some of the founding members include Ushahidi, GlobalGiving and Ashoka.

Bound to stay interesting. Follow their blog here.


World Bank Group Online Course on Citizen Engagement


This free, 4-week online course is provided by the World Bank Group in collaboration with the London School of Economics (LSE), the Overseas Development Institute (ODI), and Participedia:

Engaging Citizens: A Game Changer for Development?

Government works best when citizens are directly engaged in policymaking & public service delivery. What conditions are necessary for inclusive and effective citizen engagement? Can it positively improve people’s lives? This course provides an overview of citizen engagement, critically analyzing how it can be leveraged most effectively to achieve development outcomes.


  • Week 1: Citizen Engagement: What It Is and Why It Matters
  • Week 2: Engaging Citizens for Improved Policymaking
  • Week 3: Can Engaging Citizens Bring Better Services?
  • Week 4: Innovations in Citizen Engagement

Starts March 15. Head over to Coursera to register.


Hack4Congress San Francisco: March 21-22


Three weeks ago, the first Hack4Congress event took place at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government in Boston, MA. Organized by the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation and the OpenGov Foundation, this two-day effort “to fix Congress” brought together a wide variety of technologists, designers and policy wonks to work on projects aimed at addressing any of these five areas:

  • Challenge 1: Improving the Lawmaking Process
  • Challenge 2: Facilitating Cross-Partisan Dialogue
  • Challenge 3: Modernizing Congressional Participation
  • Challenge 4: Closing the Representation and Trust Gaps
  • Challenge 5: Reforming Campaign Finance

Now, Hack4Congress will be coming to the West Coast:

Hack4Congress San Francisco
Saturday, March 21 – Sunday, March 22, 2015
At Code for America
San Francisco, CA

From the Eventbrite:

#Hack4Congress brings together political scientists, technologists, designers, lawyers, organizational psychologists, and lawmakers to foster new digital tools, policy proposals and other innovations to address the growing dysfunction in Congress.

In three events (in Cambridge, San Francisco, and Washington DC), civic innovators are invited to spend a weekend working on “hacks” (both technical and non-technical) to improve Congress. Each event concludes with presentations and the selection of the best project.

Winners will travel to DC in May, to present their ideas to a panel of Members of Congress and civic innovators.

For more on the outcomes and winning projects from the first event, check the Hackpad.


Upcoming Knight News Challenge to Focus on Elections


The Knight Foundation just announced details about their next News Challenge, and it’s bound to be interesting. From their blog:

On Feb. 25 we will open the next Knight News Challenge with this question:

How might we better inform voters and increase
civic participation before, during and after elections?

The challenge is a collaboration between Knight Foundation, the Democracy Fund, Hewlett Foundation, and Rita Allen Foundation, all of which plan to contribute funds, expertise and outreach as well as helping to review entries. What’s at stake, for the winners, is a share of more than $3 million.

As with past challenges, this one will cast a wide net. We are looking for innovative ideas ranging from new ways that news organizations, civic tech entrepreneurs and others can better inform voters and increase civic participation. Projects could range from bringing more transparency to money and politics, to making voting easy, efficient and fair, to converting election participation into longer-term civic engagement — on the local, state or national level.

With newsrooms and civic organizations gearing up for the 2016 elections, this is a prime moment to explore new ways to engage Americans in the political process and increase participation in our democracy.

Below are just a few examples of areas we’d find worth exploring in this context:

  • Develop methods to extend the reach of citizen juries by offering opportunities to involve the general public more
  • Explore new ways for citizens to co-create voter guides
  • Apply a more participatory approach to the creation of initiatives and ballot measures, both at the state and local level
  • Develop new media formats that allow voters to better get to know the candidates
  • And plenty more…

Needless to say, most of these would benefit from robust online deliberation capacities.

Please get in touch if you’d like to partner on these or any related project ideas. Thanks!

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Facilitate ’15

Events, Facilitation

Update 2015/02/09: The event is now free of charge! See you on Friday, February 20th!

Our friend and colleague Lucas Cioffi of QiqoChat is organizing Facilitate ’15, an 1-day online conference on facilitation:


This interactive conference is all about the cutting edge of facilitation.

Meet innovators working in dozens of fields. You can bring your own tool or technique and run an experiment as part of this highly participatory online conference. This is a safe space to experiment and collaborate with peers while exploring the cutting edge.

Active & Experiential Learning

Not only will we talk about the cutting edge, we will actively explore it with all the technologies that you and your fellow participants bring to the table for testing.

You can schedule a session on any topic and use any facilitation technique and any online tool that you have access to! If you do not have a preferred tool, an easy-to-use group video chat tool will be available for each session.

Intellitics is proud to be a sponsor. Use promotional code “intellitics” to get 20% off the regular price.


Intellitics 2014 Blog Highlights


The following is a list of our ten most popular posts in 2014, in chronological order (for previous years, see here: 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013):

Once again a big thank you to everyone for following the conversation.


IAP2 NorCal Meetup: January 9 in Sacramento, CA


For those in the Sacramento, CA area, the Northern California chapter of IAP2 USA (where I serve as chapter co-chair) will host an event there this coming Friday, the first in what must be at least a decade:

IAP2 NorCal Meetup
Friday, January 9 at 6.00 pm
Hook & Ladder Manufacturing Company
1630 S St
Sacramento, CA 95811

Head to the chapter website to RSVP online.

No set agenda, just a chance to casually meet and connect with colleagues over food and drinks, though we might discuss opportunities for potential chapter events in the state’s capital later this year.

I’ll be in town for CityCamp Sacramento. Looks like we’ll have a very fun group, so see you there!


Top Posts December 2014


Happy New Year! Here’s the list of recent posts (from the three-month period October through December 2014) that got the most attention last month:

And once again, our three top performing posts overall from the same period:

Thanks for reading along!