If you've read this blog more than once, you probably know that I've been talking about ways to integrate data collection and storage into journalism for years now. Along the way I've learned things about data and standards and business and finance and start-ups and non-profits.
But in the end, it really just boils down to "Do you have the money to do it?" Because while there are various ways you can get money for your idea, most of them (beyond my favorite, "Be born with it") come with a variety of "On the other hand" caveats, many of which have nothing to do with the idea itself.
That's why I've taken my idea for a networked semantic word-processor (the first step toward an integrated product we generically call a semantic content management system) to the Knight Foundation. My grant request is small by Knight standards: Just enough to fund development of an open-source version of the tool, screw up in a major way at least once, and run some user tests.
Once we've got a working version of the tool, it will either attract investors and collaborators or it won't. I'll be satisfied either way. If it's a valuable tool that people want to use, we can build a business that gets the concept off my desk and into the hands of a professional team. If it works but nobody wants it, then I can walk away knowing that I fulfilled my responsibility to the idea. And if it doesn't work, then the technical experts I've consulted will be really surprised.
So here's the drill: If you're interested in the various semantic journalism ideas that I've presented here over the years, or if you're just tired of me obsessing over something so geeky and want me to get back to more important things, like zombie movies and ugly dogs and Santa sex and video transcripts and snarky graphics, you need to visit my proposal on the Knight Foundation website.
See that grayed-out "Heart" icon? Click it (register through Tumblr if you have to, but just click on it). Have something supportive to say? Leave a comment at the bottom of the page. I don't think a small amount of buzz equates to a big advantage in a grant competition, but I suspect that the Knight people are like most of us, and pay a bit more attention to ideas that generate interest. If you wonder about this, stop on the sidewalk and stare up at a fixed point in the sky.Then count the number of passersby who stop and look into the sky with you.
Really. I'll wait.