— words and things

zeitgeist, the mozilla opennews fellow version

Six months into being a Knight-Mozilla Fellow, in what has proven to be the best year of my life, 2012 continues to get better in the ZEIT ONLINE news room in Berlin. Over a year of planning leads up to today. We moved into a beautiful brand new office next to Anhalter Bahnof. The dust is still settling as the movers put the last pieces of furniture in place but I can already start to feel the energy of the news room buzzing throughout the place.

A question we are all often asked when we meet new people is “What do you do?”. I used to find that question annoying unless I was talking to other technical people because it meant that I had explain to them the details of a highly technical field in order for them to get it. While I love telling people about hardware virtualization and all of the details of the work I did at IBM it seems that most people get lost in that conversation and immediately switch the topic. Now I revel in such opportunity to explain what exactly it is that I spend time doing on the day to day hack with Mozilla and ZEIT ONLINE. It gives me a chance to explain how exciting working in an open way for the news room can be. Of course it comes with a unique set of challenges just like any software situation these days but ZEIT has done an great job at making it easy for a developer to get access to all of the proper tools necessary to get the job done.

On the other hand, Berlin does a really great job setting a creative vibe. With graffiti all over the city, endless open airs and a thriving music scene to explore it is almost as though the whole city is one big canvas for anything that has to do with the arts. This city is still being rebuilt and is starting to bud into one of the most creative cities in the world. Still being relatively cheap it is starting to attract a diverse set of makers and artists as well as a diverse group of start ups. Working as a fellow at ZEIT gives me a chance to be right in the middle of a transforming city. Mozilla will also be moving to the kiez so as a fellow you will have a space to show everyone all the awesome you are making!

Being a fellow gives you unique access to a very great resource, the other news fellows. One of the best parts about being an open news fellow is thinking outside of the box with your counterparts and getting to spend time with them and random cities all over the world. The first group of news fellows at this point has become one big family and when we have issues with things we are building we look to one another for advice. I find that to be a priceless aspect of being an open news fellow. The comradery formed between us is very unique given our situation. We are all place in some of the worlds most renowed news rooms acting almost as spies, sharing the info we find with one another in order to improve not only ourselves but the curent news model.

If there is one down side to being an open news fellow it would be the fact that you have one of the coolest jobs in the world and after your 10 months of amazing are over you are left wondering “What now? How can anything top this?!”. I still have four months left in this fellowship and every day I wake up I look forward to hopping on my bike and scurrying through the Berlin streets heading into the office and working with my friends at ZEIT ONLINE. There are few things I can think of that are better than the life of an open news fellow. Luckily for you, you get a chance to do it too!