Monday, July 23, 2007

Announcing the Summer of Content

Some of you have asked what I've been up to the last few weeks. Thanks to a late-night wiki cleanup crew (thanks, Xavi, Nikki, Andy, and SJ!) we are finally ready to go live.

So without further ado... I proudly present the Summer of Content (SoCon), a collaboration between OLPC and the Commonwealth of Learning. In a nutshell, we match interns who want to contribute to open content with mentors from existing open-content projects who can help them, while providing stipends to the interns that allow them to work full-time on their project.

SoCon runs two summers a year, one for each hemisphere. This summer is the Northern Summer pilot, with projects running from August 10 - September 24. Groups like Google and Fedora are already on board. We're ridiculously excited and can't wait to get started.

What's the Summer of Content?

It's kind of like Summer of Code, minus the code, plus a few key differences (below text mostly lifted from the stuff I wrote for the website).

We're aiming for the inverse demographic.

The Summer of Code program has traditionally attracted a large number of individual students with technical backgrounds from the developed world. By making our stipend $500 instead of $5000 and allowing teams to apply together, we're hoping to attract an even larger number of collaborating creators from the developing world - including non-students and people with non-technical backgrounds.

Collaboration is good.

I mentioned above that you can apply in teams. I'd like to point it out again. Actually, applying in teams only helps your chances. (The catch is that the team all has to split a single stipend, but if you come from the developing world, that's still pretty good money.)

Emphasis on joining the community, not cranking out a product.

You do have to get something done. But we're going to make it very clear that the real job of the interns is to learn how to work with a particular content community, not to act as a contractor that just churns out stuff for them in exchange for pay. There are people involved. Get to know them. Collaborate.

"Content" doesn't just mean Content.

We're aiming to nurture a self-supporting networked ecosystem of projects. In other words, in addition to more traditional content-production projects (write a book, curate an encyclopedia, compose a piece of music, etc) there will be meta-content projects - for instance, accessibility and documentation projects with interns whose jobs will be to publicize, disseminate, and make other SoCon projects more accessible to various populations.

There will also be event/testing projects with interns whose jobs will be to run Test Jams and other local free culture conferences/events to get feedback to other SoCon creators about the work they're producing. Other types of projects will also be encouraged, but the important point to note is that SoCon is not just about the creation of open content, but instead about making that content useful and accessible and therefore used for Awesome purposes by the rest of the world.

We're hiring, and we need help!

We're looking for mentor organizations, mentors, and interns as well as volunteers. Check out the current project proposals (better yet, suggest your own)!

The deadline for applications this round is August 6, so please help us spread the word - if you're interested or know anyone who might be, there are some template letters you can use. We're especially looking for non-English-speaking organizations, mentors, and interns, and for participants from the developing world.

We also have an immediate need for volunteer translators - if you can help us translate the website into your language, please contact me. We're especially looking for people who can do Amharic, Arabic, Hindi, Nepali, Portuguese, Thai, and Urdu.

Questions? Thoughts? Ideas?

We'd love to hear what you think. Leave a comment on this blog or a message on the official Summer of Content Talk Page, and we'll get back to you (make sure we have your contact info, though).

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