$5 Million Dollars To Change The World

September 19, 2007

In my last post, I discussed how traditional media is under fire, particularly newspapers, mostly because the web beats them at their own game.  Although many of the delivery systems could stand to be more streamlined, online media is much better when it comes to breaking news and localized or niche content – it’s faster than any print publication could hope to be, and the infinite amount of space available, in combination with the low point of entry, makes it possible for the narrowest of niches to find an audience.  It’s the internet for the win, folks.

The one thing that concerns me about the new media revolution is how individuals may be becoming mentally closer, but physically further apart.  Let me explain – while it is incredibly easy (and important) to connect with like-minded people through the wonders of technology, we’re losing that sense of regional and local community.  People are more likely to reach each other through fiberoptic cables than meet face to face (hey, just look at Second Life).   While this isn’t exactly an international disaster, the increasing disconnection and dissemination of communities certainly isn’t going to help anyone either.  However, some brilliant, well-funded people are trying to blend digital technology with with a sense of community of involvement (keep reading, I’m getting to the money part).

Getting to the point – I’ve come across the Knight News Challenge on a whole bunch of different sites, but just in case anyone hasn’t heard of it, here’s the gist of it:

At the most basic level, the goal of the challenge is to bring people together in the real world through the use of digital technology (computers, cell phones, PDAs, and myriad other gadgets).  By holding this contest (it’s a yearly thing, this year there is $5 million earmarked for the winning entries), they hope to give people with big, innovative ideas enough funding and support to make those ideas a reality. 

Unlike many contests and grants that are restricted to U.S. citizens, this contest is open to anyone, anywhere in the world – all you need is a killer idea and an internet connection to send a proposal in with – there is even an under twenty-five category for all you wunderkinds out there; if you’re under eighteen, the award will be designated to an intermediary, but you can still enter. 

What kinds of ideas qualify?

It should go without saying that it needs to be innovative and use digital technology, and your idea also needs to involve giving people access to breaking news or vital information in a timely manner.  It also needs to be local in the sense that helps foster community in a specific geographic area – so you may have something that could scale nationally, but concentrate on your immediate surroundings for the moment.  The focus is on open-source creations that might not have enough profit potential for the venture capitalists, but are still exciting and can make a significant positive social impact.

Does all this sound like you or someone you know?  Go to www.newschallenge.org and apply, and hey, if you’re reading my blog, you must be pretty smart, wink wink – so why not take a chance with your ideas?  You have nothing to lose by taking a shot- they even ask that you submit a short description of your idea before you compose a long proposal, so there’s not even a risk of sinking tons of time into something that might not pay off.

Good luck!


One Response to “$5 Million Dollars To Change The World”

  1. […] 21, 2008 The Knight News Challenge, which I wrote about way back in September 2007, recently announced the winners ($5.5. million was awarded to sixteen projects around the […]

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