I lead a three-person startup building software to improve communication between citizens and government. The software we've built is called OnlineTownhalls and prior to the MoJo Challenge we were not yet focusing on the potential applications in the news ecosystem; this challenge has certainly gotten us thinking. We’re an early stage startup; the first major test of our software is with NASA’s 2011 IT Summit where they’re bringing us on board to engage up to several thousand remote participants through in-depth online discussion. With that summit, our goal is to move beyond comments and help participants generate new knowledge through large-scale peer-to-peer conversation. We believe there are similar possibilities for high-quality conversations around popular news stories.
I serve on the board of the 1500-member National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation, a wonderful non-profit dedicated to high-quality in-person and online discourse. From that standpoint, I see strong parallels between journalism and citizen engagement as both fields strive to reinvent themselves in a networked age. I'm also active as the President of the Board of the non-profit Open Forum Foundation which designs conferences and cross-sector partnerships for improving public participation between citizens and federal agencies. I’m a West Point graduate, a graduate of the US Army Ranger School, and an Iraq War veteran. Those are the experiences that pulled me in this direction of civic entrepreneurship.