The Knight News Challenge accelerates media innovation by funding breakthrough ideas in news and information. Winners receive a share of $5 million in funding and support from Knight’s network of influential peers and advisors to help advance their ideas.
Throughout 2012, innovators from all industries and countries are invited to participate in three challenge rounds, each with focused topics on emerging trends.
Round 1 - on networks - is closed, and the winners will be announced June 18.
Round 2 - on data - will be open May 31 - June 21. We’re looking for new ways of collecting, understanding, visualizing and helping the public use the large amounts of information generated each day. Winners will be announced in late September.
Details on Round 3 will available later this year.
Anyone, anywhere can apply for the challenge - whether for-profit start-ups or non-profit ventures. For more information on a variety of topics - from guidelines for for-profits, on intellectual property licensing, open source software and more - visit our FAQ.
Provide an open-source mobile-sensing framework, enabling grassroots collection, dissemination, and sense-making of rich data about individuals, communities, and their environment.
There are no frameworks that give users and developers such rich access to mobile-phone data. Data collection so sensitive HAS to be open source. We are field-tested, open, and free.
Funf is ALL about networks. Creating a network of developers, researchers and users to enable support, experience sharing, and code reuse. Enabling our smartphones to tap into the many networks in our lives. Aggregating and analyzing data from many individuals in a community collectively for rich applications and deep insights.
Aggregating Funf data from many users in a network to create a collective image.
Illustrating the multiple networks spanned by the same individuals in a single community (from MIT’s “Friends and Family” study done with Funf)
(See supplemental material for more details)
We have demonstrated that we can build and deploy this technology in real world scenarios as something users are comfortable living with (see Q6). Our team has the needed skills and experience. We already have hundreds of apps and experiments being built on Funf since its purposefully quiet October launch, showing that Funf really does make it easier and cheaper for developers to build mobile data-driven apps than doing it on their own. Our victory at the SXSW Accelerator reinforced the support and interest of the community, and we are already seeing network effects as the word spreads.
Dr. Nadav Aharony - PhD from MIT Media Lab, Human Dynamics. Background in mobile development, data networks, security/privacy, algorithms, machine learning, big data, system engineering, and product management. MIT Center for Civic Media Fellow for 3 years.
Alan Gardner - Software Consultant (bachelors in Physics from MIT) with experience in big data, mobile applications, distributed systems, and the web development stack.
Cody Sumter - Technology Policy and MIT Media Lab Masters student, Human Dynamics. Background in data visualization, web development, social, astrophysics, and zombies.
Professor Alex “Sandy” Pentland - Advisor and pioneer in wearable computing and mobile sensing.
We initially developed Funf for one of the largest mobile data experiments done in academia to gain insight into community and social dynamics.
Since then we have built up the open-source Funf Framework to help developers embed this smartness into their apps, Funf In A Box web app for researchers/journalists to generate custom android sensing apps in under 5 minutes with no coding required, Funf Journal to allow individual end-users to explore their own data. All of these are still in ALPHA. We are fostering a growing community of developers and users, but there is much work to do.
1) Convince leaders in mobile/open-source ecosystem to buy in and help drive development.
2) Collaborate with academic research grantees to use Funf as their platform and contribute instead of developing their own software from scratch.
3) Provide paid services to setup data collection initiatives, build Funf-based apps, and more.
1 - 2 years, ideally ~18 months
Dependent on project ambitions and funding availability.
Worst case scenario: Structured so that upon the exhaustion of funding the generated codebase can stand on its own and is available to the world to use and build on. We will do our best to create an active volunteer community to continue supporting and updating the codebase.
Best case: Reaching sustainability will enable continuous development and expansion of the technology, adding more functionality and responding to community requests and changes in the mobile ecosystem.
Additional Context and Supporting Information
- Home base: http://funf.org (info, tutorials, codebase, app, and blog links).
- On March 13, 2012, Funf.org won the SXSW Interactive Accelerator Award for the News Related technologies category. The awarding Judges included:
Jim Schachter (Associate Managing Editor of the New York Times)
Ben Huh (CEO of the Cheezburger Network)
Tony Conrad (Co-Founder of about.me and Partner at True Ventures)
Adam Ostrow (SVP of Content & Executive Editor at Mashable)
Tim Draper (Managing Director of Draper Fisher Jurveston)
Brad King (Assistant Professor at Ball State University)
Tim O’Reilly (Founder and CEO of O’Reilly Media)
Richard MacManus (Founder and Editor in Chief of ReadWriteWeb)
Ellen Miller (Executive Director of the Sunlight Foundation)
Knight Blog entry about our win: http://www.knightfoundation.org/blogs/knightblog/2012/3/14/funf-wins-sxsw-accelerator-competition-news-related-technologies-track/
AP Interview: http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/21085302
Official SXSW page: http://sxsw.com/node/10919
- Journal paper about academic research into the life of a community that was performed using Funf, and where the software originated:
Nadav Aharony, Wei Pan, Cory Ip, Inas Khayal, Alex Pentland: Social fMRI: Investigating and shaping social mechanisms in the real world. Pervasive and Mobile Computing 7(6): 643-659 (2011)
- We won two Google Research Awards in 2011, which initiated and enabled the open sourcing of the framework and its documentation.
More information about Funf.org and Networks
Funf is ALL about networks, on multiple levels. Funf creates a network of developers, researchers and users enabling support, experience sharing, and code reuse. Funf enables our smartphones to tap into the many networks in our lives. Data from many individuals in a network or community can be aggregated and used collectively for many applications.
Facebook is just a single component of your actual social network. Our smarphone is an access point to many of the networks in our lives - the online social network, our phone network, our face-to-face network that can be sensed via the phone, and more. Funf taps into this information. Using Funf we can generated a full layered structure for your social graph which represents the true range of human interactions including face-to-face, SMS, phone, email, and personal data networks.
Funf started as a research tool for understanding the social networks in a single community as part of the “Friends and Family” study conducted at MIT:
For individuals Funf can help them collect and use information about their networks - from telling you how and who you spend your time with, to helping reinforce relationships and create new ones.
News media can be augmented with the richness of available sensor data, and give insight into how the photographer got there, what they were doing, who else was around, and other details about their environment. This context can be collected automatically and continuously, before they even know an event might be significant.
Data from many phones can be combined for investigating how a society operates, and help us better understand what it means to be human. Data can be contributed anonymously by many users and aggregated to create a collective image of a community or even a whole city. A news story doesn’t have to be the work of one journalist, but can be the emergent property from the data of thousands of citizens.
Alternatively, when disaster hits, like in a flood, you can re-construct in real-time maps of roads that are still operational or find pockets of people that are stranded.
From individual data:
To collective aggregate:
All of this is possible, but unfortunately its extremely difficult to utilize these abilities of our phones to the fullest. Organizations with many resources are the main ones that can invest in applications like these, and when they do, its usually proprietary and not accessible to developers or even the end users. Smaller organizations end up duplicating basic functionality, over and over again.
With Funf, we want to change this. We want to lower the barrier of taking these from idea to product, and help small developers, researchers, and end-users.