FFDW and MuckRock collaborate to bring DocumentCloud to the decentralized web

FFDW and MuckRock collaborate to bring DocumentCloud to the decentralized web

Upcoming award program will give $400,000 and technical support to key analysis, archiving and publishing projects

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Filecoin Foundation for the Decentralized Web (FFDW) has announced a major award to MuckRock, furthering our vision of being the public’s engine for understanding our world. FFDW and MuckRock are teaming up to integrate decentralized storage technology for DocumentCloud, our open source platform that currently hosts over 8 million verified documents. This collaboration will also expand our leading accountability and transparency tools to support a much wider range of use cases. We’re excited to make DocumentCloud a bridge for civic technologists, newsrooms, non-profits, researchers and more to better collaborate and move key public interest documents to the Filecoin network and support a range of key preservation, publication and analysis efforts.

With FFDW’s support, MuckRock will store key public-interest documents from the DocumentCloud platform on the Filecoin network. DocumentCloud is a tool for journalists to find and tell stories, helping them to organize, research, annotate and publish primary source documents, ranging from the Panama and Facebook Papers to the recently leaked Supreme Court draft decision obtained by Politico.

Through this project, MuckRock expects to double our network of supported organizations, reaching beyond traditional newsrooms and helping archives, researchers, civic technology organizations and other verified contributors easily access primary source materials.

Are you a newsroom, research organization, or other group posting primary source materials?

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Since founding MuckRock, it has grown from a simple record request tool to multiple platforms that reach 40 million people every month, and we’re constantly exploring how we can best serve the public as our reach expands. That work has become particularly important now as we’re seeing a mix of new and increasingly serious threats to public access, ranging from national censorship of news websites to the power of increasingly consolidated hosting providers to silence sensitive and embarrassing information.

Decentralized technologies like Filecoin are a promising avenue to answer some of these challenges, and collaborating with FFDW is a tremendous opportunity to bring decentralized technology to our network. Decentralized storage will enable more long-term and secure storage for important documents–underscoring our commitment to accountability and transparency while also helping think through important norms and best practices going forward.

This project will focus on three coordinated strategies, allowing us to explore and deploy decentralized storage in a measured way that builds capacity and resilience for a range of organizations helping inform the public.

Simplified Decentralization: Starting today, MuckRock is offering a preview version of DocumentCloud’s Filecoin/IPFS integration, letting all verified users choose to publish vetted documents to both DocumentCloud’s existing hosting service and to Filecoin/IPFS simultaneously. This is particularly timely as it makes it easier for newsrooms to resiliently store and share key primary source materials, even under concerted attempts to limit their distribution.

To use it, once logged into DocumentCloud, click on “Add-Ons,” then “Browse All Add-Ons” and switch “Push to IPFS/Filecoin” to “Active.” Then, simply select the documents you’d like to publish to the IPFS network, click “Add-Ons” and pick “Push to IPFS/Filecoin” and then confirm.

Once it’s done processing, you’ll be given a dweb link and IPFS and Filecoin IDs. With those, even if our services become blocked or go down, the file will remain accessible.

DocumentCloud will also be looking to quickly expand the types of vetted civil society organizations obtaining, verifying and publishing source documents in the public interest through our platform.

Intuitive Automation: Building off the launch of DocumentCloud’s Add-Ons feature, we will make it easy for DocumentCloud users to automate common types of tasks, such as monitoring and archiving government websites or integrating advanced functionality, like machine learning, into their workflows. MuckRock will make it easier for journalists and researchers to scale up data gathering and analysis efforts, making data approachable for non-coders and offering powerful extensibility for developers. Throughout this phase, MuckRock will onboard an additional 750 organizations every six months, focusing on organizations that have uniquely important collections, like archives and civic technology projects, as well as organizations that face threats of internet disruption.

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Collaborative Support: Finally, to help build out the next generation of key journalistic, civic technology and research innovation and make these benefits quickly available where most needed, MuckRock and the FFDW will be offering hands-on support, led by a new Filecoin Open Source Fellow dedicated to assisting and advising projects. MuckRock will also be providing $400,000 in award and development support to a range of projects to encourage the adoption and growth of these new capabilities and the decentralized web.

We’ll be announcing more details and how to apply for these awards in the coming weeks, and encourage anyone who is interested in applying or learning more to register for the DocumentCloud newsletter.

For those who are eager to get started, however, we have another exciting opportunity: We’re hiring a range of operational, editorial and technology roles, starting today.

We’re currently looking for a front-end developer to help us continue to build out this exciting platform and a data journalist to join our growing editorial team to put these tools to work. If nothing’s a great fit right now, we’d still love to learn more about you and we’ll get in touch if anything is a good fit.