These 10 prototypes represent new ways to promote community

After 2.5 days of ideation and prototyping, 30 pounds of barbecue, 1080 ounces of coffee, and 150 tacos, we’ve closed the books on SNDMakes Austin.

Cross-functional teams of designers, developers, product owners, educators and students gathered to prototype 10 solutions that chip away at the question, “How might we invent tools that promote community?” Participants came from a wide-range of media backgrounds with a total of 22 different organizations being represented. This cohort had a heavy local presence with team members from the likes of the Dallas Morning News, the Texas Tribune, Facebook Austin, ATX Built, IBM Watson, and the Austin American-Statesman.

Here’s what got made.

Team Bouldin Creek

Andrew Chavez, developer, Austin American-Statesman

Chris Haines, product, Vox Product

Amanda Krauss, developer, Texas Tribune

Megan McGaha, student, Centenary College

Project: “No Thanks Obama”

“No Thanks Obama” is a filtering and feedback loop tool for social media managers and reporters. Social media managers and reporters have a lot of feedback endpoints to manage and good feedback or important questions can be lost amongst the noise. We want to help identify the important and relevant questions and comments so that they can have more meaningful engagement with their community and their community feels better served.

Demo // Repo // Presentation 

Team Rosedale

Chuck Carpenter, developer, National Geographic Society

Jake Lear, product, Vox Product

TJ McClarty, product, Austin American-Statesman

Kristi Walker, student, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Hannah Wise, developer, Dallas Morning News

Project: Let The Story Evolve

Our idea is a system built for community managers to recognize and reward user generated content. It will add a layer of quality and value to existing online communities. This will promote the quality of community engagement and build a more loyal audience.

Demo // Repo

Team Silicon Hills

Aidan Feay, developer, Vox Product

Sydette Harry, editor, Coral Project

Josh Kadis, product, Alley Interactive

Ashlyn Still, developer, Cox Media Group

Project: Converge

Converge is a news utility that connects communities through their interest in local content. Users can see what topics matter most in their communities, make connections, and gather resources to further their involvement. Participants in Converge form organic, physical communities for offline connection and provide publications with valuable information on what shapes their environment.

Demo (Note: click icon to right of e-mail)

Team Dirty Sixth

Annie Daniel, developer, Texas Tribune

Matt Dennewitz, product, Pitchfork

Tyler Sax, developer, Facebook

Emily Yount, designer, Washington Post

Project: Article Club

Using a Chrome extension, you can contribute links to a “bundle” to suggest reading related to the article you’re consuming. Others can view bundles to learn casually and/or deeply about a topic. Bundles expose readers to new and interesting content and can also serve readers who may be intimidated by an ongoing news story, such as ISIS or the significance of Missy Elliot. A link can belong to many bundles and is categorized as for the casual, engaged or expert reader.


Team South Congress

Michael Donohoe, developer, New Yorker

Melanie Gibson, product, Cox Media Group

Kathryn McElroy, designer, IBM Watson

Erik Palmer, professor, Southern Oregon University

Caroline Pate, developer, The Spokesman-Review

Project: Rise

We are empowering and activating smaller communities to engage in healthy discussion. Our solution is Rise, a website add-on that creates channels for specific audiences and allows them to post and read relevant information for a hyper-local area. Our product benefits newsroom workers and their readers by allowing users to post their own timely, relevant conversations while also seeing professional news articles specifically relevant to their location and interests.

Demo // Repo // Presentation

Team Tarrytown

Nicholas Branco, student, Raritan Valley

Andrew Losowsky, product, Coral Project

Greicy Mella, designer, New York Daily News

Jolie McCullough, developer, Texas Tribune

Jessica Morrison, editor, Chemical and Engineering News

Project: Dispatch Mary is a public education journalist at The City Daily. She wants to create a community of teachers to get expert feedback and future leads in response to her reporting. That’s why she uses Dispatch, an embeddable widget that lets reporters quickly and easily ask questions of a subset of registered users.

Demo // Demo CMS view // Repo // Presentation

Team Town Lake

Liam Andrew, developer, Texas Tribune

Agnes Mazur, social media strategist,

Katherine Nagasawa, student, Northwestern University / Knight Lab

Adam Schweigert, product, Institute for Non-profit News

Project: The Gist

The Gist remakes the traditional “topic page” into an interactive, human-curated hub that summarizes current events by assembling content and conversations from across the web (social media, the homepage, and other news sources).  Existing topic pages are static, or automatically feed in news stories in chronological order. A curated hub gives reporters more ownership over the topic, and allows audience to drive the conversation and highlight story points that might otherwise be drowned out.

Demo // Repo // Presentation

Team Zilker 

Tashween Ali, social media strategist, Buzzfeed

Chris Coyier, chief, CodePen

Alex Duner, student, Northwestern University / Knight Lab

Dheerja Kaur, product, TheSkimm

Project: Cultivate Cultivate is a tool for organizations to take a data-driven approach to identifying their communities, subcommunities, and community leaders.

Demo // Repo // Presentation

Team Manchaca

Drew Berger, developer, Facebook

Angel Colberg, designer, Coral Project

Lauren Katz, editor,

Andrew Keil, product, ATX Built

Newsroom editors need a simple way to gather, organize and publish user generated content in order to highlight new voices and tell important stories – we’re tackling the organizational aspect. Whether focused on fun or serious topics, user generated content can be used to tell a new story or follow up with an existing article. Sharing is a huge aspect of community, and developing an organized system will allow editors to more easily create content that both informs and adds value for the readers.

Team Rainey Street

Ben Hasson, designer, Texas Tribune

Josh Romero, developer, freelance

Traci Schoenberg, product, Cox Media Group

Kristyn Wellesley, editor, Cox Media Group

Project: Comment Collector

Comment Collector is a tool to centralize comments from various sources allowing reporters and editors to quickly and efficiently gauge reader reactions. There is often a lack of insight into community conversation around stories/series because they are happening in lots of different places. This tool will eliminate the blind spot and provide a way to gauge reaction, understand an unanticipated reaction, test assumptions, mine for follow-up stories, and provide qualitative data as a complement to quantitative analytics.


Event planning and production

Steve Dorsey, Vice President of Innovation and Planning, Austin American-Statesman. Past-president, Society for News Design.

Kyle Ellis, Director of Strategic Programs, Society For News Design. Formerly, The Business Journals, and CNN Digital.

Ramla Mahmood, Designer at Vox Media. SND board member.

Miranda Mulligan, Digital specialist, news design veteran, and SND board member.

It takes a village to program each ‘Makes’ event, and this one wouldn’t be possible without the generous support of our event partner, the Austin American-Statesman.

We’d also like to thank our event hosts

Alley Interactive




Vox Product

And our funding organizations

Knight Foundation

Dow Jones News Fund

Scripps Howard Foundation

Excellence in Ethics and Journalism Foundation

About SNDMakes

is a series of collaborative, prototyping events focused on digital media design and community.

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