Reflecting on XOXO 2018

  Image credit:    Tom Coates

Image credit: Tom Coates

I had the good fortune to be able to go to XOXO in September this year. It was my first – I was a XOXO newbie. Up to that point, all I knew about it was from following some very smart people in my network on Twitter. I lived through them vicariously and I always hoped that some day I’d get to go. That actually happened this year.  

XOXO bills itself as ‘an experimental festival for independent artists and creators who work on the internet’. I’d like to congratulate whoever came up with that description because it is really accurate. It is experimental, it’s largely for independent creators (there were a fair few people attending who worked in traditional tech corporates like Google but they were not the focus), and it is very much about the internet. Creators Andy Baio and Andy Macmillan have created something special over the years – XOXO started in 2012, and happened every year except 2017, when they took a break. It’s grown steadily bigger, from a  few hundred to the 2000+ that attended this year, and I can really imagine the amount of work that went into it, coming right off organizing the Ada’s List Conference in September this year, which was just for 120 people!

I didn’t know what to expect going in. I knew some of the names – I’m a fan of the work of people like Hari Kondabolu and Ijeoma Oluo for example, both of whom were speaking at the conference, but largely I went in expecting to learn and be inspired. And I was. I’m not going to lie – a lot of it was very philosophical, and a lot of it political – but if I’m honest with myself I think about things in those veins a lot anyway so I was a good candidate to attend the event I suppose! Here are some of my favourite parts:

Cameron Esposito gave a rousing opening keynote on being a woman today on the internet. There was a lot of #MeToo but a lot of it was about making the internet better.

Jonny Sun started off the first full day of the conference talking about a few things: art, the internet, and mental health. He spoke about how even he, as a known artist, still experiences imposter syndrome. He said that with art what was important was to just keep going. I loved what he said about the internet itself, that it was a ‘place to work out who you are’ – essentially helping people build their identity. One of the powers of the internet, he said, is the fact that it makes us all feel outsiders - but we are all outsiders together. He said it’s tough staying positive on the web (trolls are real) and that it can take a toll on our mental health, so whether it is memes or jokes, use whatever you need to feel better. He closed by asking the audience to ‘reflect lived experiences as openly and honestly as we can’.

Jean Grae is really a polymath: a rapper, singer, writer, comedian, and actor. So much of what she said resonated with me: there aren’t many female rappers, and she’s always boxed into the ‘female’ category: “why can’t we talk about the full realisation of my narrative, why is it always ‘but what about your vagina and how does that hinder you in making music?!” Amen to that – I know a lot of women who are always assigned the ‘female’ role instead of being given the opportunity to talk about their area of expertise. Growing up, Jean learnt not to pay attention to anyone who said she couldn’t do something – which was a lot of people. She came to know the frustration of not being given opportunities when she could usually do things better than people who were selected. And she ended brilliantly as well, talking about American politics as it is today: “We should never get to a place in the world where we are right now.”

Jennifer 8.Lee is an Emoji Activist (yep - that’s a title I hadn’t heard before either!) through her grassroots emoji activism group Emojination. Her entertaining talk took us through the history of emojis and her contribution to the field (her activism played a big part in the creation of the dumpling and hijab emojis), amongst others. Her passion when talking about people who want conventional things from life expressly being the opposite of who she was, was the best: “Who you envy is a compass for what you care about”, and “I do not want to pass frictionlessly through this world.” CLAPS

  Image credit:    Tom Coates

Image credit: Tom Coates

I loved that there was so much about feminism and politics, really. Beth Newell and Sarah Pappalardo took us through some of the best of Reductress, their satirical women’s magazine. I didn’t know about Natalie Wynn till XOXO, who runs the ContraPoints YouTube channel on social justice issues in a performative way. She’s got 4000+ Patreon supporters now. As a trans person going through her transition while she ran ContraPoints, she was doxed really badly, and learnt that she had to make a clear distinction between her public and private life if she wanted to keep sane, ‘it’s not Natalie but ContraPoints that’s being attacked.’ On politics, which she talks about in her videos, she had some noteworthy thoughts: “Politics is theatre, especially when a reality star is your President”, and “Fascism is a pageant, bring your own pageant if you are working in the media world – protect yourself”.

I’ve always believed that comedians have a really tough job – making people laugh is hard at the best of times, trying to make a stadium full of people laugh is even tougher! Day 2 of the conference began with Demi Adejuyigbe, a comedy writer who’s written for The Good Place and currently writes for The Late Late Show (Demi also did a comedy performance with a trumpet the previous day, which was totally hilarious. No, he doesn’t know how to play one!). He spoke about comedy, and how it is used as insulation, to keep from being vulnerable, referencing Hannah Gadsby and how “building a career on comedy isn’t humility, it’s humiliation.” Which, as Hannah did, made me think. He also spoke about Twitter (he’d been kicked off Twitter the previous day because he said something in jest to his best friend that went against Twitter’s rules – luckily he was soon allowed back!). Using that and other examples he spoke about how the things that make Twitter great also make it the ‘absolute worst invention of the 21st century’. Jack, are you listening?

Helen Rosner, food correspondent for the New Yorker, also spoke about feminism and being a woman writing about food in a world where criticism and trolls abound online. She told all women to stop apologising and stop using ‘hedging’ language: ‘but’, ‘sorry’ and so on. She ended by asking us to embrace our inner brilliance (it was a bit woo-woo but come on, encouraging oneself always feels good).

Then there were the people I was there to see: Ijeoma Oluo, whose work on race and gender you really should read. She was as good as I thought she’d be. Solid words on people asking her for advice about how to tackle race: “I am not the White People Whisperer.” “No one handed us a book on how race works.” She spoke about then importance of creating for the communities you want to reach: “If these communities are worth fighting for, they are worth creating for.” And why it is ALWAYS IMPORTANT TO PAY PEOPLE. Lastly, “There is nothing more uncreative than bigotry. It is literally a lack of imagination.” CLAPS AGAIN. And she’s a lovely person – even posed for a selfie with me!

And Hari Kondabolu, whose spoke about his 2017 documentary film A Problem With Apu, and his lived experiences being a brown person in America. He mentioned how there is no such thing as ‘equal opportunity offence’ – when you offend someone of colour, they can’t always insult you back because the consequences are too big.  

  Surprise Act! Lizzo closing out XOXO 2018. Image credit:    Tom Coates   .

Surprise Act! Lizzo closing out XOXO 2018. Image credit: Tom Coates.

And that was just the conference bit! XOXO, as I said, was programmed as a festival. There were tabletop games, RPGs, arcade games, ‘Art + Code’ which had more talks, and screenings of films later in the evening. Lizzo was the surprise closing act and she rocked!

I want to say a word about the organisation of this festival itself. The Slack channel for attendees was great and a way of making me feel more included, especially as an XOXO newbie and someone who wasn’t from the US, prior to the festival. They had childcare, which Intercom sponsored – and I saw loads of kids there. It’s something so many events miss. Having said that, XOXO listens to the community like no one else I’ve ever seen. They are super sensitive to people’s issues around gender especially (the pronoun pins to help people use the right pronouns during conversations were nice). The meetups the day before the official conference started were a fun way to meet people as well, though you were largely left to your own devices (they did help by sharing a list of meetups beforehand). And there was a lovely installation and collaborative art project called Dear Future Me being done by Alice Lee on the premises, which made it feel less massive a conference than it actually was.

  Letters to future selves, to be sent to people next year. Art installation by Alice Lee. Image credit:    Tom Coates

Letters to future selves, to be sent to people next year. Art installation by Alice Lee. Image credit: Tom Coates

If there are criticisms, it’s that the line-up was heavily US-oriented – but then they’re a US-based conference I suppose. And they literally had programming from 9am to 11pm on both days which makes for a LONG event for anyone, and if you’re not in the same West Coast time zone then you might find it physically hard to go to everything.

In October, the XOXO Andy’s announced that they were taking over management of Drip, Kickstarter’s programme to help independent creators make money – Kickstarter is funding them to start a separate company to do that, rather. If there is one challenge the internet faces today, it is making money without advertising. So much of our work at Storythings centres on that discussion, especially as we produce media and journalism ourselves. I’ll be watching what XOXO comes up with!

And as if on cue, XOXO has just published a video summary yesterday! Over and out.


Storythings Impact summary: September 2018

 Future Earth advisory committee co-chair Johan Rockström and former UNFCCC chief Christiana Figueres presenting the Exponential Roadmap at the Global Climate Action Summit

Future Earth advisory committee co-chair Johan Rockström and former UNFCCC chief Christiana Figueres presenting the Exponential Roadmap at the Global Climate Action Summit

With the re-launch of our site, we’re going to try a new way of talking about our work at Storythings. Instead of talking about what we’re doing, we want to talk about the impact our projects have had instead. This will help us focus on the change we want our stories to make, rather than just the stories ourselves.

We had an unusually busy September, so that’s a great place to start. We’ll experiment with the format for this summary every month - if you’d like more info on the projects, or to get in touch about a project, we’d love to hear from you.

Exponential Roadmap for the Global Climate Action Summit
We worked with our colleagues at Future Earth in Stockholm to produce this ground-breaking report for the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco on the 13th September. The report maps out the contributions of specific ideas to help the world achieve the reduction in CO2 emissions needed to meet the Paris target.

What we did
Storythings Editor Duncan Geere led the development and production of the editorial content for the report, and managed the final design and production of the report itself. We worked with regular Storythings collaborator Alex Parrott on the design, developing a swooping curve identity that represented the exponential reduction in emissions between now and 2050.

The impact so far
The report was launched by Johan Rockström and Christiana Figueres at the Global Climate Action Summit, the most important summit for cities and businesses since COP21 in Paris. It helped shape the conference narrative for the rest of the event, with the curve design used repeatedly at the GCAS event, as seen in the image of above. The Step Up Declaration has been signed by 21 leading companies, and the Speedwell declaration that specifically commits companies to supporting Carbon Law trajectories has now been signed by 305 CEOs.

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The Great American Read
This is a major cross platform project for PBS, asking Americans to vote for their favourite novel from a list of 100 books derived from audience surveys and expert advisors. Launching in May 2018, a season of TV shows have explored the joys of reading across diverse communities, and online content has been getting out the vote to find America’s favourite novel.

What we did
We’ve been working on this project since 2017, helping TV production company Nutopia develop the interactive elements of the initial pitch, and then taking on the role of Digital Executive Producer to scope, tender and manage the production of the digital campaign. We hired Postlight in NYC to develop the website on PBS’s Bento Platform, and Telescope in LA to provide the voting technologies across web, social platforms, SMS and Toll Free.

The impact so far
Voting opened in May 2018, and we worked with PBS’s social and digital teams to run the online voting campaign over summer before the main TV series started in September. With the vote ending on October 18th, there have been over 3million votes so far, and the show has sparked conversations all over the web, from the 50k members of the PBS Great American Read book club on Facebook to fan communities sharing memes to get out the vote for their favourite book. In a time when the internet can seem to divide us instead of bringing us together, it’s been really heartening to see a project unite people to share their love of books.

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Nevertheless Podcast

Nevertheless is a platform for the less-heard voices in ed-tech. Nevertheless started in late 2017 as a pilot between Pearson and Storythings, a trial-run of five episodes of a podcast around teaching and learning. We saw it as a space to explore the stories behind the technology we use for learning, ask difficult questions around edtech and learn more about the women in this space working to make the world better. We wanted it to be more than edtech evangelism.

What we did
We learned a lot from those first episodes and now we’re expanding. Season 2, launched in August, featured ten episodes, as well as videos, events and a set of beautiful posters drawn by talented female artists. The episodes covered deeper subjects, such as the resilience of school shooting survivors in the US, the mental health of YouTubers.

The impact so far
We’ve loved seeing photos of our posters in schools, offices and maker labs around the world. We were invited to include Nevertheless in a UK government initiative with Network Rail for an event at Kings Cross with local school-kids, where postcard versions of our posters were distributed to young people interested in engineering. We’ve also started a collaboration project with three schools in London, Virginia and Cape Town, helping them use podcasts to tell the stories of their communities for a future episode of Nevertheless, written and produced entirely by the students.

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Diffusion Network

The Diffusion Network is a coalition of six public-impact publications covering global health and science-related topics, working together to overcome the problem of distribution and syndication of good quality content. We do this by conducting small-scale media experiments, sharing resources - we reach out to potential syndicators as a network, and getting together to look at the issues around syndication and distribution, including by bringing in insights from experts from around the world. As we’re all small publications and newsrooms, working together amplifies our potential impact and reach in ways that we just couldn’t do alone.

What we did
In September we had our third Diffusion Network workshop over two days in Brighton, bringing together our partners to discuss the impact of our experiments so far, and to plan the next phase of the project. We heard from external speakers on audience development and podcasting, and heard reports from partners about what they’ve learnt from their experiments so far.

Impact so far
Since the public launch of Diffusion network in Spring, we’ve had 77 articles from our partners syndicated world-wide, with publications including Quartz, HuffPo, El Pais, Scroll in India and Guokr in China. We’ve signed syndication deals with many of these international partners, and are currently discussing deals with other partners in Germany and South America.

Humanizing Data: Highlights from EYEO 2018

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Earlier this year I was in Minneapolis for EYEO festival, a gathering of people who do interesting, creative things with data and technology. I’ve never been before, but I wanted to go for two reasons. The first is that the interface between technology and culture, and how they shape each other, is one of key areas that interests us at How We Get To Next. The second is that it was a chance to meet and hear from some of the people who’ve created work that we’re big fans of — people like Janelle Shane, Manoush Zomorodi, and Teju Cole.

I kicked off the week with a workshop about hand-drawn data visualization, presented by Stefanie Posavec and Giorgia Lupi, who some of you will know as the creators of the Dear Data project. Posavec and Lupi spent a year sending each other weekly postcards that depicted some aspect of their lives in data. The results are now part of the collection at MoMA in New York. In the workshop, they argued persuasively that drawing not only helps you think differently about a dataset, but it also forces you to physically spend time with your data, letting you notice things that you might not notice with a glance at a spreadsheet. You can see my resulting bug-like visualization of the apps on my phone here.

In the evening, Manoush Zomorodi talked about her new podcast. Most people know her as the host of Note to Self, WNYC’s “guide to an accelerating world,” but she recently quit alongside her producer Jen Poyant to launch a new project: ZigZag. ZigZag is about capitalism, journalism, and women in technology, and will be part of one of our favorite podcast networks, Radiotopia. But it’s also going to be a part of Civil, a decentralized experiment in publishing on the blockchain.

Nathaniel Raymond, founding Director of the Signal Program on Human Security and Technology at the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, talked about the ways in which attempts to use big data to help people can make natural disasters and armed conflicts worse. From cuneiform tablet tracking slave sales, through the punch card and the holocaust, to the role of Facebook messenger in the Rohingya genocide, Raymond carefully walked through a wide range of examples of technology enabling some of the worst episodes in human history. The Signal Code, which articulates five human rights to information during crisis, is his attempt to “reboot” humanitarian doctrine for the information age.

Many of the talks at EYEO revolved around machine learning, and two of my favorites were Rebecca Fiebrink and Janelle Shane. The former showcased how the technology can support artists’ creative processes, unlocking new possibilities and ways of representing the world, and how it’s becoming increasingly easy for artists to take advantage of such opportunities with tools like Wekinator, which she created. Shane ran through some of her recent experiments in machine learning, noting the areas in which the technology can struggle (like when trying to detect sheep, for example).

This enthusiasm for the creative potential of machine learning was also tempered by warnings. The clearest was from EYEO curator Jer Thorp, who was chairing a panel on how artists weigh the creative possibilities of these tools and platforms against the problematic ethics of the corporations that make them. Using facial recognition algorithms in art, he said, was “like using a taser to power a pinball machine.”

Finally, one of my favorite talks of the week came from novelist and photographer Teju Cole, who discussed how he’s used social media to deepen his artistic work. He showcased his Twitter projects of recent years, as well as his current fascination with Instagram. He discussed how the “real-time” nature of these platforms benefits his work, but also on the ways in which it’s harmed by hyperconnectivity and the attention economy.

If you’re wishing you were there to see all of this live, then worry not. All of the talks I mentioned above, as well as the rest of the program, were filmed and will be published on the web in the coming months. But if you can’t wait, then have a dig through the EYEO archive on Vimeo. You’ll be sure to find something fascinating.

How We Made Our Disappearing Languages Data Visualization

Earlier in the year, alongside episode five of our How We Get To Next series the ID Question, we also published a detailed analysis of the world’s endangered languages. It’s a project that I’ve been working on for the last couple of months. You should check it out if you haven’t already. Click the image above.

It’s often said that only a tiny part of the work in data visualisation is actually visualising it — the rest is spent finding, cleaning, and formatting the data. That’s certainly been true for this project. We faced a bunch of different hurdles in getting hold of reliable data about something as slippery as language.

The first: How do you define “a language”? How does it differ from a dialect? There’s no easy answer to this — obviously many languages are very similar to others, and some are even “cognate”, meaning that a speaker of one can reasonably understand the other. Sociolinguist and Yiddish scholar Max Weinreich popularised the quip that “a language is a dialect with an army and navy,” showing the influence of politics and power over what is essentially a relative distinction.

The second problem we came up against was defining “endangered”. It’s clear that while there’s a correlation between the number of speakers of a language and its precarity, it’s possible to have languages that are used heavily among a relatively small number of people, or languages that millions “speak” yet hardly ever use.

Happily, we discovered that Unesco has already tackled both of those problems in its Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger, a list of 2,464 languages ranked by four different degrees of vitality, based on how much each language is being transferred to younger generations. Best of all, there’s a free download of the dataset. Great!

Or not so great. It’s easy to download a “limited dataset” of the world’s endangered languages — containing each language’s name, where it’s spoken, and degree of vitality. But they also have an extended dataset that adds information on number of speakers, alternative names, precise lat/lon coordinates of where it’s spoken, and extra information (like a list of countries or regions). To access that, you need to submit a request over email — and all of the emails I sent to Unesco went unanswered. Meanwhile, a request for access to Ethnologue’s database came back with a quote for $21,000!

In 2011, it turns out, Unesco was answering emails — because it was around then that the Guardian’s sadly-defunct Datablog obtained and republished the extended dataset. Using that data, we were able to build the visualisation we wanted, though I’d have been much happier had we been able to get an updated version. If you’re reading this and know anyone at Unesco who we might be able to speak to about getting the extended dataset, or have a copy of it yourself, then please let me know.

With some data finally in hand, we set out to visualise it. We wanted to tell the story of how language and culture are crucial to the identity of communities around the world, but how they’ve also long been suppressed and erased, and what that means for the people who speak them. We wanted to show how many languages are under threat, and how they’re spread around the globe. We wanted to give the reader, wherever in the world they are, the ability to see the situation local to them.

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The original idea was to publish a map which looked a bit like this. Each language was represented by a bubble, which could be pushed around by others but would try and get as close as it could to its proper geographical location. I quickly found that 2,500-odd SVG bubbles all trying to move at the same time would make even the fastest browser chug. We considered doing it using Canvas instead, but that would have made tooltips difficult.

So we switched our thinking, and went for D3.js static circle packing layouts instead. After some experimentation with different sorting methods (which you can see below), we settled on sorting the languages alphabetically by name. We liked it because it gives the whole thing a scattered appearance that we felt was a good representation of the chaotic state of the world’s languages. We divided things up into degree of endangerment and continent, and then Ian found a trio of interesting languages in the dataset to profile in greater detail.

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But we didn’t want to lose the geographical element of the dataset, because the distribution of endangered languages around the world is really interesting. So we returned to our map and tried a few different things. The bubble map from before wasn’t going to work, so we tried overlaying the circles — which made them hard to see. A little transparency didn’t help much — we needed something that people could zoom and pan to get the level of detail they wanted.

First we built a version in WebGL Earth, which was fast and zippy with a few points but also very slow when we loaded the full dataset. The tooltips were also kinda buggy, so we switched to Leaflet — which has a very friendly API, but still couldn’t handle all the points. So then we switched again to Mapbox, and boy do I now love Mapbox. It was incredibly easy to import the data, show it on a map, customise the basemap to match the colors on the page and add performant, functional tooltips. If you ever want to make anything like this, then definitely give Mapbox a go.

Finally, we wanted to center the reader in the experience, so we came up with the idea of geolocating them and then calculating what their nearest endangered language is and showing them a few details about it. After some brief difficulties with getting HTTPS to work nicely on a custom domain on Github, we got geolocation working — and panned the world map to the user’s location, too — so that they’d be able to begin their exploration of the whole dataset in a place that’s familiar to them.

One of the trickiest decisions we faced was what to do about tooltips for the circles at the top — whether to show the reader what language each one represented. This is obviously something people would want to know, but it had to be done in a way that was fair. Fair in this case meant two things: that tooltips would work equally well for both desktop and mobile users, and for both big dots and small dots.

Neglecting the first factor would mean that we were prioritising one way of reading the essay over another. We very carefully designed the visualisations and page so they scale nicely to screen size, but if we’d created tooltips that didn’t work well on mobile screens then we’d be penalising those users. Given that mobile devices are projected to account for 79 percent of internet use by the end of 2018, that wouldn’t be fair — especially as the bulk of those users will live in the developing world.

Neglecting the second factor would mean that we were prioritising larger circles over smaller circles. This would be a particularly questionable path to take, because it would mean drawing attention to languages spoken by more people over languages spoken by fewer (something that the decision to scale the circles by size already does, to some extent). Given that the whole point of the graphic is to draw attention to endangered languages, making it hard to find out more about those languages would have been self-defeating.

Ultimately, we couldn’t find a fair solution to both of those problems, so we made the decision to not feature tooltips on the circle layouts near the top. We figured that we could use these layouts to show the big picture, and then allow the reader to explore the data in detail using a combination of the “find my closest endangered language” feature, and the world map at the bottom. These features show the data in a much more equitable way — where each language is given the same-sized pin, with a full tooltip attached that works nicely on both mobile and desktop.

But that’s not quite the whole story, because you might have noticed that if you hover a mouse pointer over the circles in the top section for a moment then you do get a small HTML tooltip that tells you the state of the language. We left those in as an Easter Egg, intentionally not telling the reader they existed, so that mobile users didn’t feel like they were missing out on a feature that they wouldn’t be able to use. Obfuscating a feature is obviously not a great solution, and it’s arguably a total betrayal of the principles I laid out above. But it was the best compromise we found between giving people information we knew they’d want while not promising something we couldn’t deliver in a fair and equal manner.

With the bulk of the code complete, it was then just a case of writing the copy, polishing up the page and fixing the last few bugs. You can find all the code we used to create it freely licensed on Github.

Did we make the right decision about the tooltips? I’d love to hear your thoughts and suggestions for other ways we could have tackled this, or any other questions or comments you have about the essay. Just drop me a line.

— Duncan

Stories For People, Not Algorithms: Announcing The Science Syndication Network

If you work in journalism and media, you’ll know that getting people to find and read your stories has never been more complex. We live in an era of fast-changing audience behaviours, platforms and economic models. If you’re not a publisher that is large enough to have direct relationship with millions of people, or to broker deals with the huge tech companies that own audiences’ attention, you have to spend a huge amount of time and money getting people to notice your stories.

This is the position that many small and medium sized publishers find themselves in, especially publishers working on public-impact stories. According to a 2015 CIMA report, governments and foundations spend around $450m on media development to communicate the impact of the $147bn aid investments they make every year. This is a huge investment, but the majority of this money is to fund the development and creation of media, not distribution.

This feels like a missed opportunity — there are thousands of public impact stories being produced every year that aren’t getting the audience or impact they deserve, for no reason other than distribution is hard. The competition for audience attention has never been more intense, and the gatekeepers never more complex. Publishers have had to learn how to optimise stories for algorithms, not people. If you want to create stories that make an impact on people’s lives and attitudes, it’s hard to know what platforms to focus on, or how much time and money to spend on building audiences.

This is why we’re launching the Science Syndication Network. With the support of the Gates Foundation, we’re working with five public-impact publications to focus specifically on the problem of distribution and syndication. Between us, we have a global reach in the millions, and over the next 2 years, we’re running four six-month long experiments to improve the reach and impact of our stories, particularly stories on global health security.

The experiments will include building relationships with editors and syndication leads at major publications, translating and distributing articles for audiences in China, Brazil and across the globe, syndicating serialised content as long form articles and podcasts, and synchronising commissioning to create more impact across all our publications.

  Photo by Dave Imms, from  Mosaic Science ’s article ‘   How To Fall To Your Death & Live To Tell The Tale   ’.

Photo by Dave Imms, from Mosaic Science’s article ‘How To Fall To Your Death & Live To Tell The Tale’.

We’ve structured the project as a series of 6 month experiments because we know that the landscape of public impact journalism will continue to change. At our launch workshop in September, we heard from Nic Newman, creator of the Reuters Institute’s annual journalism predictions report. Every year this report shows how quickly audience behaviours and platforms can change. By the end of this pilot phase in 2019, the problems at the heart of our experiments will be very different from the ones we’re looking at today.

One of the biggest benefits of the network is that it gives us the time and resources to get together regularly to look at the issues around syndication and distribution together, learn from each other’s experiments, and bring in insight from experts from around the world. As we’re all small publications and newsrooms, working together amplifies our potential impact and reach in ways that we just couldn’t do alone.

The initial pilot phase of the Science Syndication Project is a collaboration between five partners, who between them have a monthly reach of over 5 million, publishing in English, Spanish, Arabic and French, across Europe, the US and South America. The partners are:

Future Earth Media Lab/International Council For Science — publishers of Anthropocene Magazine and Re:Think.

How We Get To Next — an online publication exploring the intersections between science, technology and culture, and how those things are changing the future.

Materia, the science and technology department at El Pais in Spain.

Mosaic Science, publishing compelling stories that explore the science of life, based out of the Wellcome Trust in the UK.

SciDevNet, a global publication looking at science and technology in the development sector.

We’ll be publishing regular stories on this site sharing research, insights and outcomes from the experiments. If you want to keep in touch with the project, you can subscribe to our newsletter.

We also want to grow the network. So if you’re a global publication interested in syndicating stories, a publication covering science/development/global health looking for help on distribution and syndication, or a foundation looking to increase the impact of your media work, we’d love to hear from you!