Author of the brilliant, meta masterwork “The F***ing Epic Twitter Quest of @MayorEmanuel“, Dan Sinker can make you happy and informed at the same time. It’s a trick right out of the Lenny Bruce handbook. Sinker currently leads the Knight-Mozilla OpenNews project, a community of “journalist-programmers” helping to “redefine what journalism means on the Internet.” That means not only developing the story, but also creating the best format to get the story across. Visualizations, interactives, applications. In other words, you write the music and you build the instrument to play it on. The Knight-Mozilla project coordinates fellowships with major international news orgs (New York Times, ProPublica, Texas Tribune, La Nacion, Ushahidi, Internews in Kenya) that put technology in the middle of the message. Gets you thinking: what if, say, somebody developed a platform that helped get leaked documents into the public domain? DocumentCloud lead developer–and Sinker fan–Ted Han thinks you could build a new civilization with tech like that.
What makes Sinker the man for the job? Was it his years editing the underground magazine Punk Planet? Maybe: after all, punk sort of invented this whole “disruptive” thing. But it’s probably a combination of his time on the edge and his time in the academy: Sinker taught journalism at Columbia College Chicago after Punk petered out, and he’s a Knight Fellow himself, doing journalism work at Stanford. Sinker is a storyteller and a technologist, and he proves there isn’t much difference between the two: tools are the style is the content. And he’s a cheerleader too, because if you have a vision of a better world you have to encourage people to help you make it. Dan Sinker’s number one instruction, and surely his favorite word, is “leap.”