SochiReporter is getting ready to launch on the web and for mobile users. We spent the last three weeks fixing linguistic, technical and design bugs, all with the goal of maximizing ease of use.

So far we have drawn a fabulous group of people from both local and virtual communities: garage tech geeks and web schizophrenics, coffee-shop amateurs, and folks who want to use the site and offer feedback. Their comments have helped us to get better. We also attracted an avid gamer in Sochi who spends most of his time in an underground Internet café at the center of the city. He first took our Games Section (devoted to the preparation for the Winter Olympics) for a repository of Olympics-themed computer games, which was funny.

We are building the site using Drupal, a great platform. But the biggest challenge at this stage is that Drupal isn’t as good at handling languages other than English. So our programmers had to invest a lot of energy into making it take Russian as a default language. In many cases, Drupal was unwilling to accept the correct phrases, and it especially disliked the cases (the correct endings of the Russian numeral adjectives). As for design, it is getting easier at this stage and we recently added magenta as our main color.

If you’d like to learn more about the story of SochiReporter so far, please watch this making-of video. It’s about the 100-day process of creating the SochiReporter layouts.

SochiReporter by the numbers

Here are some numbers about our process so far: 7 designers, 11 versions of the logo, 17 pages and 3 backgrounds created, 1048 cups of green tea consumed, 17 nights per designer spent in discussions. We spent so much time discussing things because of the shared enthusiasm for the project, which often took the brainstorming deep into the night.

So, with only a bit of time left before the site is launched, here’s an overview of some key details about SochiReporter:

  • SochiReporter was a winner of the 2008 Knight News Challenge and is being implemented thanks to the grant from the Knight Foundation.
  • SochiReporter is the first ever initiative to build a multimedia archive about the preparation of a host city for the Olympics.
  • This is an experiment to help define the future of news. We hope to work out a successful business model as well as the accompanying website that will satisfy the community’s information needs.
  • This is a project aimed at supporting the Sochi community by enabling citizens to track and debate how the Olympic preparations are changing the city over a five-year period.
  • The project will create a repository of multimedia resources and content about the preparation for the Olympics. It will document information that otherwise might be lost or not captured at all.
  • The project will create a database of information and content that will be of interest to journalists who come to Sochi in 2014 to cover the Games.
  • This project will help improve local traditional media and introduce them and the community to the concept of citizen multimedia journalism.
  • The model being developed for SochiReporter will be able to be replicated in any country in the future, whether in connection with the Olympics or other similar grand events.