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June 21, 2010, 10 a.m.

Knight News Challenge: GoMap Riga won’t make much new, just (hopefully) make things work better

The lines between news, civic engagement, and crowdsourcing blur for one of the 2010 Knight News Challenge winners. A project called GoMap Riga wants to build a more active community (in this case in Riga, Latvia) by combining preexisting local communications — like tweets, Facebook wall posts, and news stories — on an interactive map, putting content in geographic context and fostering local engagement.

Perhaps that sounds more confusing than it should. Imagine a tool that pulls in a variety of content and plots it where it happened — a news story, a tweet, or an idea for a project. It doesn’t matter what it is. A user can also directly post a video, a photo, or text. Then community members can discuss the item within the context of the interactive map. The goal is to bring a community together around ideas, projects, and places by weaving together all of the tools we already use. If the tools are working together, they’ll be better tools, and so will the surrounding community.

“Honestly, we’re not innovating the world of journalism right now,” co-winner Kristofs Blaus told me. “What we’re trying to do is empower these existing things to work better.”

Blaus and his business partner Marcis Rubenis received a $250,000 Knight News Challenge grant to build out this idea. They’re starting in Riga, their home city, and hope to see it spread to other cities.

They stressed that they’re developing this project in response to user requests and feedback; they’ve used a meeting format called DoTalk to run the discussion, taking in ideas. And like several other KNC winners this year, they’ll use technology from a previous KNC winner — in their case, using Adrian Holovaty‘s EveryBlock tech to pull in local news content on their interactive map.

Here’s a brief introduction to the project from Blaus and Rubenis:

POSTED     June 21, 2010, 10 a.m.
PART OF A SERIES     Knight News Challenge 2010
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