Some Learnings from the Knight-Mozilla Innovation Jams

There’s a lively thread on the Drumbeat list about local <> global events, started by Alina. I’ve been mulling over some thoughts following the round of Knight-Mozilla News Innovations Jams (see a great post by Dees about the UK events). Here’s a cross-posting about a few insights I’ve had:

With MoJo activities in over 15 cities, inc. four in Latin America and another five outside North America (although granted in English-speaking countries), we’re on to something. Some lessons from those jams:

  • Drive events around design challenges / shared action. This boosts collaboration and gives purpose to the event. Specific, value-add challenges work better than very general ones (i.e. we got more action around the “Beyond Comments” challenge than from the broad “People=Powered News”.
  • Articulate what makes the participant group unique. For MoJo, it was about bringing journalists, techies, and designers together to work on a specific problem set. This is also what we’re trying at the festivals, for example in Barcelona with the educators and web geeks. This gives another sense of purpose and focus.
  • Frame the local event in a broader narrative arc that goes beyond the immediate timeframe. The Knight-Mozilla jams lead up to a longer term fellowship program and global conversation, and they’re a great feeder for the forthcoming festival, which focuses on Media, Freedom, and the Web.
  • Provide assets to make it easier for organizers to plug and play. Evolve those assets when more ideas / improvements come in. We did this for the MoJo jams, for example adding the bingo icebreaker cards from Jennie in New York and slides in Spanish made by Renata in Guatemala.
  • Run an evaluation afterward. That’s in progress now for MoJo, and the results will be shared soon.

There’s much to learn and to discuss together around what types of events, themes, and processes work. Would love to hear from you all what you think about the above and from Mozilla events you’ve attended.

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