Design the Next ‘Mind-blowing News App’

In just a few days, the third and final challenge in the Knight-Mozilla News Technology Partnership will begin. The question calls for ideas that would develop a news app, using HTML5, to create a whole new user experience and work on multiple platforms. (Here’s the full challenge description.)

The Knight-Mozilla News Technology Partnership, known as MoJo for short, was announced in February and is a three-year collaboration between the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the Mozilla Foundation. The goal of the partnership is for MoJo to find 15 news technology fellows to embed in leading news organizations like Boston.com and Al Jazeera. The fellows will be chosen by submitting ideas to the challenges.

The people in charge of MoJo are adamant that the fellowships are aimed at everyone, not just journalists or just developers. The fellows will “create new tools, ideas, and news experiences that benefit both readers and newsmakers — all using open technologies.”

Justin Ellis of the Nieman Journalism Lab looked into MoJo, writing, “The idea is not simply to have a digital handyman, an add-on to the IT staff or web team, but someone who can solve problems with new technologies and build new, adaptive tools for the future.”

At the beginning of the month, I went to a Hacks/Hackers Boston event led by Mark Surman, Mozilla’s executive director. He has been going around the country to different Hacks/Hackers events, promoting MoJo. At the Boston event, MoJo was introduced to the audience via a neat video and the first challenge was presented. We were asked to think of what the next great video tool could be. Interestingly enough, most of the groups came up with very similar ideas. I can’t wait to see if/who they pick from that challenge.

The second challenge, which ends May 22, asks for ways to revamp the comments section to solicit a better and more dynamic discussion.

You can sign up for the third challenge or just join the active MoJo community group.

This is just a quick overview of the challenge, but what are your thoughts? How would you respond to the first two challenges? Do you think creating these types of fellows and more dynamic, open web tools will help the news industry?