Share Wars takes the Knight News Challenge

Heart this.

Share Wars has entered the Knight News Challenge, a competition for technology-journalism projects seeking funding.

This year’s Challenge theme is “networks” so it’s right up our alley.

Our entry is below. Any hearts or comments on the entry would be appreciated as user interaction with the entry itself is one of the criteria for advancing. On the entry page, you will see a module like the one pictured, right (don’t bother clicking on the image on this page, it’s just a .jpg).

Project title: Share Wars

1. What do you propose to do? [20 words]

Track social-media sharing of news stories, analyse which story elements drive sharing and devise a replicable formula for shareable stories.

2. Is anyone doing something like this now and how is your project different? [30 words]

Not on this scale. Our project is tracking 100-plus worldwide news sources in real time. So far we have captured 1.2m articles and 53m Facebook/Twitter interactions.

3. Describe the network with which you intend to build or work. [50 words]

Facebook and Twitter are our two main data sources. We track all interaction from these social networks with stories published onto the homepages of sites such as the New York Times, The Guardian, Le Monde and less well-known publications like Nigeria’s Punch and Norway’s Aftenposten.

4. Why will it work? [100 words]

We have a proven prototype in the Share Wars engine, outlined above and detailed here. The engine has been running effectively for the past three months.

5. Who is working on it? [100 words]

Three Australians: Hal Crawford (Editor-in-Chief, ninemsn), Andrew Hunter (Network Director, ninemsn) and Domagoj Filipovic (Program Manager, ninemsn). This is a stand-alone project not affiliated with — or funded by — ninemsn, Australia’s biggest portal. Ninemsn is aware of the project and supports it in principle.

6. What part of the project have you already built? [100 words]

The tracking engine, described earlier. We also have our theoretical framework in place and a list of the story elements we’ve observed contributing to sharing through social networks. More on that here. Next steps are: 1. Build capacity of the engine and database so it can capture bylines, abstracts and body text. 2. Create or source a semantic analysis system, including tagging, that would allow us to work with the data quantitatively. We would look to build our model from there. We have also created the Share Wars blog describing our progress during the past year.

7. How would you sustain the project after the funding expires? [50 words]

We would not require funding once the analysis and modeling phase was complete. We might continue to use a stripped-down version of the engine as an editorial tool. We would also consider venture funding if commercial opportunities presented themselves during or after this phase.

Requested amount from Knight News Challenge: $150,000 Expected amount of time required to complete project: 1 year Total Project Cost: $180,000


Andrew Hunter

About Andrew Hunter

Andrew Hunter is Editor-in-Chief of Microsoft's MSN. Twitter: @Huntzie

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