A Brown Institute All-Hands: The Magic of New York In February

Part of the joy of the Magic Grant process is getting to see all of our teams coming together over the course of their year with us. So two weekends ago, we brought the whole Brown Institute family (our grantees, fellows, and staff) out to Columbia University for our first All-Hands of 2017.

Magic Grantees get together for four collective meetings a year – two at Stanford and two at Columbia – coming together frequently enough so each team can benefit from the cultures of each university and its surroundings. This year, the cycle kicked off in September with a public showcase at Stanford for our outgoing class of grantees and fellows and our first meeting of the new class to orient them to The Institute.

For this second convening, we made a point to bring the city into the conversation, sending teams out to visit four field trip sites across New York with visits to the Bloomberg Graphics team, public data platform Enigma, the archives of the New York Times, and world-renown architects diller scofidio + renfro. While these form a somewhat eclectic collection of New York institutions, they also happen to be progressive in how they think about the organization and presentation of information. We wanted folks across Brown Institute teams to see information in new ways:


    • How information can be presented interactively; not just what’s possible, but the processes behind doing so regularly at Bloomberg
    • How public data can be collected an organized at scale at Enigma, and how similar approaches to information collection can solve different kinds of problems that they’re facing
    • How archivists at the New York Times’ morgue have created a usable past for reporters and researchers out of over a century and many lifetimes of work organizing newspaper and photo clippings
    • And how the aggressively interdisciplinary architects at DS+R approach their practice of research and how the spatial design of information can affect inhabitants and users


Expect to hear more over the coming weeks about what kinds of magic folks have been up to: from finding public health stories in Dhaka, the latest in newsroom source security, to computer-aided creativity, and documenting dying (and thriving) coral reefs.

If you’ve got a project that’s just perfect for one of our Magic Grants, you’ve got a few days until the March 17, 2017 to submit your proposal and join us this coming September as we welcome a new class of members into the Brown Institute Family.