Nov 18. Screening of documentary about crowdsourced constitution in Iceland


Iceland, that small and mighty island nation in the middle of the Atlantic, decided to crowdsource its constitution in 2010. Join us for the screening of first and only documentary about the crowdsourced constitution in Iceland. Iceland pioneered in the current crowdsourcing trend in policy-making. The screening of the documentary Blueberry Soup takes place December 3rd at 6.30pm at Packard 101 at Stanford. Refreshments and snacks will be served. RSVP here. This event is open to the public. 

Nov 15. Brown Institute Concert Series


Friday November 14, the Columbia arm of the Brown Institute held the first of its concerts mingling data, code, journalism and music. The series is curated by Charlotte Mundy, a soprano and new music advocate, who has been praised as “mesmerizing” and “preternaturally focused” by the New York Times. This first concert explored the ties between mathematics and music, featuring works by Iannis Xenakis, Georg Friedrich Haas, Oscar Bianchi and Christopher Burns. We were delighted to host violinist Miranda Cuckson and cellist Paul Dwyer. About 60 people filled the space, which, if we do say so ourselves, felt very much like an actual music venue. The next concert will be held in January and is more about computer music, live coding and transforming data into sound. Enjoy!

Nov 15. Narrative Medicine Meeting


On Saturday, November 15, the Brown Institute hosted the Digital Storytelling Lab's meeting on "Narrative Medicine." In the picture above, Rita Charon, a physician, literary scholar and the Founder and Executive Director of the Program in Narrative Medicine at Columbia University, is telling us about her experience with narrative medicine, speaking beautifully about the "deep and unifying power of narrative acts with all the things that made the healthy self... conferring form on a chaotic experience." Charon reminds us that "stories of illness start with stories of health" and that they are like any other serious narrative we encounter. A group of about 35 participants reflected on the ways in which narrative could change the relationship between patient an physician, and might even help us imagine new forms for our medical bureaucracy, one that uses stories to elicity our underlying values around health.

Nov 12. Brown Bags kick off at Stanford


On November 7, the Stanford arm of the Institute hosted the second in a series of "Brown Bag" lunches launched earlier this fall. The Institute welcomed David Cohn, head the engagement team at AJ+, speaking on "structured journalism" and how he sees stories as a collection of "interconnected cards." As a story develops, Cohn said, AJ+ only writes and pushes what's new. The stories are time-shifted and become long-form over time.

Be sure to catch our next event on November 18, when we welcome Craigslist founder Craig Newmark in conversation with colleagues and friends at Stanford AND Columbia. Newmark will tackle the question of ethics and trust in journalism. The bicoastal discussion will be live-streamed from Stanford, presented in the Brown Institute Space at Columbia, and opened up to questions from New York. See you then!

Nov 11. Synapp/Widescope receives Notable Paper Award at HCOMP 2014

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David Lee, Ashish Goel, Tanja Aitamurto and Hélène Landemore’s paper, “Crowdsourcing for Participatory Democracies: Efficient Elicitation of Social Choice Functions,” received a Notable Paper Award at HCOMP 2014, the second Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligenceconference on Human Computation and Crowdsourcing.  The paper was one of the two runner-ups to the best paper award.

Nov 10. Announcing - Stories Told, Beautifully


On Thursday, November 20 at 6pm, the Brown Institute is pleased to sponsor a conversation between Ellen Weinstein, world renown illustrator, and Len Small, the Art Director from Nautilus, on their partnership combining word and image, story and illustration. The event is focused on the collaboration between two distinct practices that, together, can produce beautifully told stories.

Nov 01. Cannabis Wire at Demo Day


The Cannabis Wire Magic Grant team, Alyson Martin and Nushin Rashidian, were selected as one of five projects to pitch at the New York Media Center's Demo Day. Alyson and Nushin have been fellows at the NY Media Center incubator for the last 6 months and Demo Day is "a flagship program for selected incubator members who will present their projects to a curated cadre of investors, brand agencies and foundations that are in a position to invest, mentor, or collaborate on incubator projects." TechCrunch provides a nice wrapup of the day. Congratulations to Alyson and Nushin for this incredible milestone!


Oct 25. 3rd Symposium on Computation+Journalism


The 3rd Journalism+Computation Symposium started with a great set of talks and demos. Greg Linch offers a great summary of Jon Kleinberg's keynote about the ways information flows through networks and how the media (social and traditional) circulate and transform content. We also had panels about significant research projects taking place in news organizations, from the NY Times to NewsCorp to Bloomberg (and this morning the BBC Labs). From data-driven story telling, to verification of social media (contributed) data, to examples of how to build communities of data journalists, the day was filled with excellent examples of computation impacting journalistic practice and vice versa. Sean Mussenden from the American Journalism Review was live blogging the event and offers an excellent summary. AJR is  also hosting abstracts of all the papers and the Brown Institute is maintaining the conference site. Video of the sessions can be found here for Day 1 and here for Day 2. Enjoy!

The Symposium was made possible by sponsorship from the Brown Institute, Yahoo! Labs, The Columbia Journalism School, Georgia Tech College of Computing, and the Philip Merrill College of Journalism. Thank you all for an outstanding event!

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Oct 23. Art++ Magic Grant featured in the New York Times

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Colleen Stockmann and Jean-Baptiste Boin are featured in a lovely piece in the New York Times on the digital revolution's touch on museums.  Colleen describes their Magic Grant project Art++ as giving “you more points of access into an artwork, so that it keeps you in the moment of looking, almost as if someone is guiding you through the painting or sculpture.” Congratulations Colleen and Jean-Baptiste!

In addition, the article interviews R. Luke DuBois, a partner with the Brown Institute and NewsCorp on a grant to develop a new programming language for journalists. 

Oct 22. Stanford Magic Grant Team Earns City Recognition

The Magic Grant team Crowdsourced Democracy Team at Stanford was recognized on Oct. 15 by the City of Vallejo, Calif., for a digital voting system and their work on crowd sourced democracy.

The team – which includes the Widescope and Synapp projects – and which is lead by Professor Ashish Goel, received an official proclamation for the team’s work from the City of Vallejo.

Proclamations were presented to the team by Councilmembers Dew Costa and Miessner for the Cycle 2 vote, held September 27 through October 6, 2014.

The work is a continuation from the digital voting system implementation in the 49th Ward in Chicago earlier this year. 

The City of Vallejo partnered with the Crowdsourced Democracy Team to provide a convenient and secure digital voting platform, as an alternative to traditional paper ballots. The digital platform was used at several satellite locations. Nearly a quarter of the 3,744 residents who voted in Vallejo cast their ballot using the digital platform. On Sept. 10, an electronic sample ballot was posted on the Participatory Budgeting website to acclimate voters with the digital interface and encourage electronic voting.

“Our mission is to scale up collaboration and decision making,” Professor Goel said.  “The Participatory Budgeting process in Vallejo is a glowing example of democracy at its best, and we feel privileged to help in a small way.”

Benefits of the digital platform include automatic tabulation of votes and automatic randomization of the order of projects for each voter. Voters also had the option of comparing projects based on their perception of the community benefit the project would provide.

“This was an important step towards getting widespread distribution for our tools. We also got valuable data which we are now analyzing and can hopefully present at the next Brown meeting,“ Prof. Goel said.

Anilesh Krishnaswamy and Sukolsak Sakshuwong contributed coding the interface and the algorithms. David Lee and Pranav Dandekar also contributed to the project. “Tanja Aitamurto was absolutely instrumental in developing this partnership, and of course the Brown Institute for providing both funding and an eco-system for this research,” Prof. Goel said.

Established in 2012, the Institute is a collaboration between Columbia and Stanford Universities. Our mission is simple: Sponsor thinking, building and speculating on how stories are discovered and told in a networked, digitized world.


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