Melody Kramer

Nieman Thoughts

25 Feb 2015

In about two months, I’m heading up to Harvard to complete a Visiting Nieman Fellowship. In my application essay, I wrote that I was interested in “expanding the definition of public media membership beyond the traditional monetary model and offering up the public media’s physical space as locations for community building.”

This is a project that will take much longer than two months. I plan to use the two months at Harvard to develop some software-based and non-software-based prototypes that I’m hoping to test with stations, and then iterate based on their feedback.

I thought I would update you on my progress so far and request feedback. This will not work unless it’s designed with and for the public. Please email, tweet, or edit this page with your suggestions.

First, I’m planning to adapt an open source program that 18F developed called Midas for public radio stations. Midas is basically a “Kickstarter for people’s time.” It will allow stations to list projects they need help with, and allow people to sign up to help specifically with those projects.

Second, I’m planning to adapt the NYTLab’s platform Hive for stations, so that members of their communities (and the Internet) can add valuable metadata to the audio, which will allow the audio to be distributed in different ways.

I need to figure out how to host these sites. I am in the process of applying for grants that will be directly used for hosting. I’m also planning to see if I can host these sites at Harvard for the time being.

I’m teaching myself the languages that these programs use, but I’m not a master-level programmer by any means. I’m also teaching myself Envision, so I can mock up prototypes.

If you are a programmer and would like to help with these projects, please let me know.

Third, I’m planning to interview lots of people who have thought about membership or affilation who work in public media. I’m also hoping to talk to people who don’t work in public media.

If you work in public media and would like to talk, please let me know. If are a librarian, park ranger, Code for America fellow, a person who works at a JCC/YMCA, and/or a person who works at a local tool library and would like to talk, please let me know.

Fourth, I have been talking to stations and plan to follow up with them this month. There are small prototypes of projects we can do, without the need for software. These projects include things like digitizing audio, helping with events, designing artwork, and leading community groups in public media spaces. I’m hoping at least one or two of these projects can be prototyped during May and June. The stations I have talked to are willing to try this out with 10 to 20 new members.

If you know of a way to contact every station (or have a list of contacts) please let me know. I’ve cobbled together a list, but it’s not comprehensive, and I want to keep everyone in the loop re: successes and failures.

Five: There are a LOT of things I haven’t thought about. PLEASE tell me what they are, particularly if you work at a place like Code for America, which has worked through a lot of the pain points. This project is not a one-woman project.

Why I’m Doing This: I want to help ensure the long-term survival of public media because I think it is a vital resource, much like libraries and the National Parks. One way to help ensure this is to reimagine public media as a vital (space-based) resource within the communities in which they sit. Happy to go into tons of more detail on this. I think about it a lot and have a long-term plan mapped out in my head, which I’m happy to share. If you think about this stuff too, I would love to hear from you.

Thank you

Melody Kramer

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