Phillip Smith

Going beyond comment threads with @cshirky, @amichel, @ro_gupta & #HacksHackers in New York

Last week was a bit of a blur: after meeting with the Chicago Tribune News Applications team, and descending into the Tribune dungeon for an evening of brainstorming with the local Hacks/Hackers chapter, I was off to New York for the “Beyond Comments: Discuss, brainstorm with Shirky, Michel, Gupta” event at NYU’s Tisch School for the Arts (home of the ITP program).

Sadly, I didn’t manage to capture Clay Shirky’s talk where he touched on some of his recent research into online conversations. (If you recorded it, or have links to his recent writings on the topic, please pop a note into the comments below!)

By the time that Ro Gupta of Disqus took the stage, I was able to get my act together and start recording. His talk in two parts is here:


Next up was Amanda Michel of ProPublica who spoke to her experiences in online community organizing, and how those skills translate into the new kinds of journalism being pioneered at ProPublica. Her talk is here:

Having absorbed some pretty smart thinking about the evolution of online comments, discussion and debate in the context of news, the hacks and hackers in the room broke into groups to brainstorm their own innovations. Sixty-minutes later, they returned and presented their ideas to the group. You can watch all six pitches here:


I received this note from Hacks/Hackers NYC organizer, Chrys Wu, on my way back to Toronto:

Anecdotally, last night’s Beyond Comments discussion is one of our most successful events to date. – Chrys Wu

It’s pretty amazing what can happen when you bring together a room full of smart people and ask them to problem solve, no?

There are a handful more Knight-Mozilla & Hacks/Hackers meet-ups scheduled before the end of the challenge (June 6th – don’t forget). If you’re close to one, I recommend trying to make it out.

After that, keep your eyes on @KnightMozilla for more event announcements in the coming weeks and months.


Hi, I'm Phillip Smith, a veteran digital publishing consultant, online advocacy specialist, and strategic convener. If you enjoyed reading this, find me on Twitter and I'll keep you updated.


Want to launch a local news business? Apply now for the journalism entrepreneurship boot camp

I’m excited to announce that applications are now open again for the journalism entrepreneurship boot camp. And I’m even more excited to ...… Continue reading