As a student fellow, I have worked on various projects and community initiatives. Most notably, I worked to create
the beta version of a tool called VideoJam,
which was meant to ease the social video creation process for newsrooms. I proposed the idea in Spring 2017 and was
hired to work on it with two other undergraduates during Summer 2017.
We define social videos as the 60-90 second explainers that show up all over social media feeds. They tend to be
highly visual, high-level stories with simple text overlays. These videos are hugely popular and proven to be
incredibly powerful marketing tools because they are easy to digest and they stand out in a text-based news feed.
At the beginning of the summer, the team spent three weeks talking to a wide variety of newsrooms. We found that top
social video producers like Vox and AJ+ had employees who worked full-time to create these videos. Video editors at
these companies said they used complex software like Adobe Premiere and Adobe After Effects to create the social
videos. Most often, they said, the videos took two to four hours to create.
Smaller newsrooms emphasized they didn't have the bandwidth to create such high-caliber custom videos. For that
reason, they either had to skip out on great viewership opportunities or use cumbersome and rather expensive
video-making apps that created sub-par content.
To address these needs, we spent the summer creating VideoJam -- the beta version of a free open-source desktop
application that encourages narrative-driven videos. The following images were created by Jeff Birori, another student
who worked on the project in Summer 2017.
App home screen
My community work at The Knight Lab has included many initiatives to expand students’ interest in technology, even if
they consider themselves non-technical. One of my favorite community initiatives was a program called Month of Making.
I worked with three other students to create weekly, themed programming seminars to help students of differing skill
levels build a variety of small projects.
For the first week, I created
explainer allowed all Month of Making participants to use the same tutorial, which meant all participants could work
toward the same goal.