The proposal from has been approved by community vote as of 07 August 2008.

The project sponsor will add a copy of the description below.


nickvidal’s picture

Title: Instant Syndicating Standards » Information-Sharing using FeedAPI and Buddylist
Category: task » feature

Organization/institution legal name:
Instant Syndicating Standards

Purpose of grant (please use one sentence and no more than two lines):

Fund the implementation of an innovative bottom-up information-sharing system to help people share news and information in a more open and democratic manner.

Total cost of project (from all sources): $ 25.000
Requested amount from Knight Foundation: $ 25.000
Over how many years? 1 year
Organization’s annual operating budget: $ 12.500
Number of employees: 4

Organization’s background, mission and history (use no more than two paragraphs):

ISS (Instant Syndicating Standards) is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to define and promote a set of open standards that enable people to discover and syndicate news and information within their social network. The organization has received recognition from Google and XSF (XMPP Standards Foundation) and has received funding through the program Summer of Code 2006. In 2007, we started to work with UFRGS, one of the largest universities in Brazil, with over 40.000 people. We have built UFRGSWeb, a rich-media social network. In 2008, we started working towards enhancing UFRGSWeb by adopting the Instant Syndicating Standards. We hope that our work developed at UFRGS will serve as a case study and help promote ISS as set of open standards to help democratize how news and information are created and disseminated.

Need: What journalistic or public need will the proposed project address? How was the need identified?

The Internet has empowered people to share news and information in unprecedented ways. It has enabled people to easily and at almost no cost to be both producers and consumers of news and information world-wide. Nowadays, people are able to have their own channel of information, broadcasting texts, photos, videos, etc. This is very exciting and brings many opportunities for education, research, business and entertainment. However, it brings many challenges as well.

From the consumer’s point of view, with everyone having its own channel, how are people going to find what they want amidst all this avalanche of information? The Web as it is today, as complicated as it might be to publish something, seems already overcrowded with its billions of interconnected documents. How then are people ever going to find what they want when technology easies the publishing process even further and opens hundreds of millions of hidden worlds all filled with rich personal media?

From the producer’s point of view, how will he or she broadcast his or her channel so that it reaches those to whom it is relevant without interfering with those to whom it is not? How will his or her channel stand apart from the so many others that exist? How will he or she get his or her idea across and be heard in this open and democratic medium, where everyone has gained the right and opportunity to have a voice?

Proposed Project: Briefly summarize the project for which Knight Foundation funding is requested. Relate the project to the needs identified above.

Our proposal is to connect people with news and information that matters to them the most by letting people themselves express what matters to them at an individual level. Each individual connects with their own personal social network to receive and disseminate information. This challenges the top-down model of information-sharing and gives place to a bottom-up model, where each person has a unique voice and equal opportunity to contribute and benefit. In this way, we hope to bring people closer together to discuss common interests and share information in a more open and democratic manner.

Project Activities and Timetable: Please list the most important project activities and provide a timetable showing when you will do them. (Example: To produce apples, starting on March 1, we will plant 100 saplings.)

In the second semester of 2008, we have selected 3 students to be part of the project. They were selected from a group of 15 students through a process that included an analysis of the curriculum and an interview. They received training in Drupal and the ISS (Instant Syndicating Standards) from August 2008 till December 2008. The 2009 timetable follows:

ISS Contacts (March 2009 – April 2009)

Further develop ISS personal contacts list.

ISS Channels (May 2009 – June 2009)

Further develop ISS personal channels.

ISS Documentation (August 2009 – September 2009)

Create a rich documentation, including video. Publish this documentation on the Web

ISS Package (October 2009 – November 2009)

Create and deliver a package that allows universities, organizations and businesses to deploy ISS, thus helping their communities to share news and information in a more open and democratic manner.

UFRGSWeb Deployment (January 2010 – )

Deploy ISS on UFRGSWeb. Start with some departments and scale towards the whole university.

Anticipated Outcomes:

A. Direct results: Activities create outcomes. Please list what you expect will happen as a result of your activities. Tell us how you will substantiate your outcomes. (Example: Within two years, we expect 80% of the saplings will have grown into trees. We’ll snap a picture of them to show you. By the next year, we expect to have our first apple crop. We’ll count the fruit-producing trees and the apples harvested.)

We expect to have a full implementation of ISS by the end of 2009. This implementation will be deployed at UFRGS starting 2010. UFRGS is one of the largest universities in Brazil, with over 40.000 people. Being so large, it’s difficult to be aware of all the interesting research being developed at the university. Our goal is to provide students and professors with tools that will help them discover and share information with colleagues and society. By adopting the ISS open standard, information may be discovered, syndicated and aggregated easily, not only at UFRGS, but across other universities as well. This project will help improve the quality of education and research at our university with phenomenal cascading effect

B. Broader impact: Outcomes, in turn, create broader impacts. What larger things may happen as a result of this project? How will you demonstrate these broader impacts? (Example: In a few years, we hope to have an apple agribusiness that will not only be self-sufficient, but will provide subsidy to our educational center.)

We believe that UFRGSWeb will be a huge success. This will help promote ISS as set of open standards to help democratize how news and information are created and disseminated. We expect that other universities, organizations and businesses will adopt these standards to overcome information overflow and reach an equilibrium in information-sharing and awareness

5. Assessment and evaluation: Who will evaluate your project? Will the evaluation be done in-house or by an outside consultant and/or a partner in the project? How will it be done?

Initially the project will be evaluated by students and professors from UFRGS. We will receive feedback from the community and publish our results. We hope that other universities, organizations and businesses will help us evaluate ISS and publish their results as well.

6. Risks: Please be frank about things that might go wrong. Does your organization have the capacity to do all the things you say you will do? Are staff changes on the horizon? Are there outside factors that could disrupt the project? What can be done to lessen those risks?

Our biggest difficulty has been marketing our proposal. We know we have created a very elegant solution to the information-sharing problem. However, people will have difficulty understanding it without an actual implementation. We believe the implementation and deployment at UFRGS will be decisive.

7. Marketing: How will you get the message out about your project? Please be specific.

The UFRGS university will support the project by advertising the platform to all students and professors. Also, it will seek to promote the exchange of ideas among other universities in the region and in the country. The Drupal community will also be important to get our message across. By publishing our results at UFRGS, we believe others will become interested.

8. Qualifications: Why is your organization particularly qualified to address the identified need? Please place the work you do in context of work done by other organizations.

ISS (Instant Syndicating Standards) originated from Niccholas Vidal’s Master’s thesis. This is a result from years of research about information-sharing. The idea behind ISS is simple, yet quite elegant. It has received recognition from Google, XSF (XMPP Standards Foundation) and UFRGS. It’s only a matter of time until it becomes well recognized. Support from the Drupal community and the Knight Foundation will be essential.

9. Collaboration: How have you collaborated with others in developing this project? How will others participate in its implementation? Please identify project partners and explain the respective role of each. Attach letters indicating support or intent to participate.

In 2006, Google has funded the project in the program Summer of Code, with the help from the XSF (XMPP Standards Foundation). Currently, the UFRGS university is supporting the development. The university is seeking funding from various sources to continue the work and invite new people to the project.

10. Other Support: Please list all other funding partners. Please specify their exact amounts of support, and whether funding is pending or committed. Include in-kind contributions as well. Important: All amounts, including the request to Knight Foundation, should add up to the project cost.

UFRGS has committed $12500 so far. In 2009, the amount of funding from UFRGS is not yet defined, as it depends on federal funding from other organizations such as CNPq and CAPES. But the UFRGS University is committed to provide the basic infrastructure necessary to promote this project, such as server hardware and people to manage these servers. We request from the Knight Foundation $25000, which will help us offer scholarships, as well as development and management costs for the 2009 calendar.

11. Sustainability: How will you sustain the project after Knight Foundation funding has ended? Be specific about revenue sources.

We intend to sustain our project through open contributions from students and, most importantly, from professors. Instead of charging universities for development, installation and maintenance of the system, we ask for contributions from the users. It's expected that the individuals who feel that the system is most useful for them will make the biggest contributions. But this is not imposed. This is left open. It's up to each individual to understand what's Freedom and Openness

For more details, please refer to:

12. Committee analysis: Knight’s Journalism Advisory Committee requests you analyze your proposal by answering the following questions briefly and clearly.

A. Does your proposed grant maximize resources? What percentage of your overall budget goes to overhead? How many dollars will you spend per person participating in your project? What other evidence of efficiency exists?

The resources will be fully allocated to pay people for their work and grant three scholarships. Each student will receive around $5000 for a total period of 1 year, totalling $15000. The other $10000 would cover development and management.

B. Does this proposal leverage industry or institutional dollars? If the request comes from a school of journalism, is the university as a whole behind the project? Does it contribute money? If the request proposes to train professional journalists, is there a "co-pay" of any kind? Is an industry contribution required? Are application forms used to ask news organizations about their commitment to training? What other evidence of leveraging exists?

The university has contributed with $12500 so far and plans to continue covering the costs of basic infrastructure, such as server hardware and people to manage these servers. It will also seek federal funding.

C. What’s the extent of Knight Foundation’s support? If we have funded you over time, is the foundation’s support increasing or decreasing as an overall percentage of program costs? If Knight funds were to go elsewhere, what would happen to the project? What is the capacity of the organization to raise funds from multiple sources?

The ISS organization is very new and so far has received support from the UFRGS University through federal funding from organizations such as CNPq and CAPES. The Knight Foundation support would be very welcomed, as it would help fund scholarships to students and pay development and management costs.

D. Does the proposal build leadership in the field? Is your idea bold, new, or catalytic? Does it act in any way to nurture a new generation of leaders? Does it bring groups together into coalitions to advance or create a common agenda? Please explain.

ISS (Instant Syndicating Standards) empowers each individual to discover and disseminate information through their own personal social network. ISS is a proposal to create a distributed worldwide recommender system perfectly tuned to output a very personalized stream of information, where information flows in a bottom-up manner, from our own unique self, towards the whole universe.

We don’t have an infrastructure that offers this possibility yet! Social networks such as Facebook and Twitter only contribute to information overflow. We need a way to let people themselves express what matters to them at an individual level. We need a way to let people to subscribe to specific information and people. We need a way to let people syndicate information to those who are interested without interfering with those who are not.

ISS key features that sets it apart from other proposals are: 1) the information-sharing process is decentralized and totally focused on the individual: the individual decides the information he or she wants to receive filtering by user and by topic; and 2) the information-sharing process follows a workflow where information is filtered in a bottom-up manner: each incoming entry is filtered by the individual and syndicated to the appropriate channels, where subscribers will receive it, filter it and syndicate it to their own channels, and so forth.

E. Does the proposal increase the capacity of your organization? Will this grant put the educational or training institution on a more solid, permanent financial footing? Does it increase an organization’s ability to use new media?

Indeed this grant will help our organization become more solid. It will help us implement our idea and push forward a set of open standards that will democratize the information flow.

F. Is the project applicable across all media platforms? Are broadcast, new media and magazine journalists part of the application pool and trainee pool? Are techniques, topics and values taught across platforms?

This project is applicable across only digital media.

G. What is the diversity portfolio of your organization? Does your organization have a diversity plan or statement of principles? What are your specific goals when striving to include women and people of color in your staff and programs? What is the current diversity census listing women and journalists of color of your program staff and participants? Are you on track to meeting your own goals? What recruiting techniques are you using? What barriers (institutional, demographic, etc.) do you encounter in trying to reach your diversity goals, and how are you working to overcome them?

The organization was created by Niccholas Rodriguez Vidal. He has selected Bruna Griebeler, Tiago Rosa and Daniel Schmidt da Silva to become members of the organization. They were selected considering their technical strength, their potential to grow and their motivation to be part of ISS.

H. How does your project advance the fundamental values of press freedom, and journalism excellence? Does it include the context of the importance of news to open, self-governing societies? Does it consider public responsibility of journalists?

Our proposal challenges the top-down model of information-sharing and gives place to a bottom-up model, where each person has a unique voice and opportunity to contribute and benefit. In this way, we advance the fundamental values of press freedom and journalism excellence.

agentrickard’s picture

Assigned: Unassigned » nickvidal
Status: Active » Reviewed & tested by the community

Marking RTBC, as this has been approved by Knight Foundation.

agentrickard’s picture

Status: Reviewed & tested by the community » Needs work


Can you post a quick status update? A link to an external blog post will do.

nickvidal’s picture

Title: Information-Sharing using FeedAPI and Buddylist » Instant Syndicating Standards
Category: feature » task
Status: Needs work » Active

Hi Ken,

Updates about the project's status can be seen here:


agentrickard’s picture

Title: Information-Sharing using FeedAPI and Buddylist » Instant Syndicating Standards
Category: feature » task

Awesome. Thanks Nick!

agentrickard’s picture

Status: Active » Closed (fixed)