Iconathon on Investigative Journalism at The New York Times


The Noun Project has teamed up with ProPublica and Hacks/Hackers NYC in organizing an Iconathon to create a new visual language around Investigative Journalism.  This Iconathon will be held at The New York Times building on Saturday, February 23rd, and is sponsored by Knight-Mozilla OpenNews and The New York Times.

We’ll be creating symbols for concepts in watchdog journalism such as public records, on-the-record sources, corporate malfeasance, and illustrating the ways power may be abused in both the public and private sectors.  The icons created will be released into the public domain to be used in news applications and interactives, as well as to illustrate reporting series, Web site topic pages, and mobile applications.

The Iconathon will kick off with presentations on tech & investigative journalism by Scott Klein – editor of News Applications at ProPublica, and Matthew Ericson – deputy graphics director at The New York Times.  “A new set of icons for news will help graphics editors and news application developers use graphical shorthand in place of lengthy explanation — the proverbial thousand words — and to tell meaningful and impactful stories more gracefully and graphically” – said Scott Klein.

Event Details:

When: Saturday, February 23rd from 10:30am to 4:00pm
Where: The New York Times building at 620 8th Avenue, 15th Floor, New York, NY 10019
RSVP: Seating is limited, RSVP for free tickets.

The Noun Project organizes Iconathons to engage the general public in the design process, so no design or art skills are necessary – all are welcome to participate!

According to Chrys Wu of Hacks/Hackers NYC “Investigative journalism is about explaining complicated concepts and revealing systemic problems. If we can do that visually, it can help readers better understand the reported stories.”  We’re honored to help out in such an important endeavor.

*Detective icon is by Simon Child.

Civic Hacker Iconathon in Miami February 16th



The Noun Project is teaming up with The LAB Miami for an Iconathon to create public domain symbols for civic hackers.

This Iconathon will bring together designers, hackers, students and civic-minded Miami residents for a collaborative workshop to design symbols for public interest. The Noun Project is working with Code for America’s Brigade to identify which symbols are frequently needed by civic hackers when developing new civic apps and websites. The Brigade is an organizing force for local civic engagement – a national network of “civic hackers” who contribute their skills and time to better their communities by way of technology.

The workshop will be held at The LAB Miami’s newly opened collaborative space in the Wynwood Art District.  The LAB’s campus is a dynamic environment for social innovation and entrepreneurship that includes tech startups, programmers, designers, investors, entrepreneurs, nonprofits, artists and academics.

Event Details:

When: Saturday, February 16th from 10:30am to 3:30pm
Where: The LAB Miami at 400 NW 26th Street, Miami FL 33127
RSVP: Seating is limited, RSVP for free tickets.

The Civic Hacker Iconathon is sponsored by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

*Lab Rat image courtesy of The LAB Miami.

American Red Cross to host an Iconathon on Urban Disaster Preparedness

In honor of World Disaster Risk Reduction Day, our next Iconathon will take us to Washington, D.C., where we will collaboratively create a suite of symbols on the topic of Urban Disaster Preparedness with the experts from the Global Disaster Preparedness Center and the American Red Cross.  The icon set that will be developed will be used for any number of applications including mapping, websites and publications.  These icons will help the American Red Cross and the rest of the humanitarian community communicate important Disaster Preparedness ideas graphically.

The Iconathon will be hosted at the historic American Red Cross National Headquarters on Saturday, October 13th to coincide with the International Day for Disaster Reduction and the official launch of the Global Disaster Preparedness Center (GDPC).   Our speakers will include Ian O’Donnell – Senior Information Architect for the GDPC, Robert Banick – Geographic Information System Coordinator for the American Red Cross International Services, and Edward Boatman, co-founder and Creative Director of The Noun Project.

This event is free and open to the public, anyone is welcome to participate – no design skills required.  Space is limited and an RSVP is required to attend due to security reasons, since we’ll be just blocks away from the White House.


Event Details

Date: Saturday, October 13th
Time: 10am to 3pm
American Red Cross (Historic National Headquarters)
Board of Governors Hall
430 17th Street NW, Washington, DC20006
Please use 17th street entrance
Theme: Urban Disaster Preparedness
Speakers on Disaster Preparedness: Ian O’Donnell – Senior Information Architect, Global Disaster Preparedness Center, and Robert Banick – GIS Coordinator, International Services, American Red Cross
Speaker on Symbol Design & User Comprehension: Edward Boatman, co-founder and Creative Director of The Noun Project
Host: Global Disaster Preparedness Center and the American Red Cross
RSVP: Eventbrite


About the American Red Cross

Responding to the increased frequency of disasters, global climate change and urbanization, the American Red Cross works with communities to build resiliency to future disasters, from training local first responders to helping mitigate common hazards. In 2011, their disaster preparedness programs spanned more than 30 countries.

The American Red Cross is part of the world’s largest humanitarian network with 13 million volunteers in 187 countries. Working together, they help respond to disasters, build safer communities, and educate future humanitarians. Each year, they reach millions across the globe.


About the Global Disaster Preparedness Center

The American Red Cross, together with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, has established the GlobalDisasterPreparednessCenter—a resource hub on disaster preparedness oriented toward the Red Cross network that will support learning and knowledge sharing for disaster preparedness practitioners worldwide.

This new Center, which will launch on October 12th, will offer a range of new services and initiatives in the coming year, including 1) an interactive website aimed at offering analysis, tools, best practices  and other resources in disaster preparedness, 2) a research program that will fund a variety of studies that will build the evidence base for disaster preparedness, and 3) an array of options for tailored technical assistance.

Image of The American Red Cross National Headquarters by AgnosticPreachersKid at en.wikipedia

Los Angeles River Iconathon July 21st

As proud Angelenos, The Noun Project is excited to partner with amazing organizations throughout Los Angeles to host an Iconathon for the L.A. River on Saturday, July 21st.  The Iconathon will focus on developing a set of universally recognized signage for the L.A. River and the surrounding areas.  And since the symbols will be placed in the public domain, municipalities around the world will be able to use the River symbols created.

The Los Angeles River is something of a hidden gem in our city.  Although it runs right through the heart of L.A., not too many people know about it.  This is because early in Los Angeles’ history the River was confined and routed through a series of concrete channels to prevent the kind of catastrophic flooding that occurred in 1938.  Confining 80% of the River to these concrete channels resulted in essentially the world’s largest storm drain, causing many citizens to forget there was even a River in the first place.  This contributed to rapid deterioration and pollution of the River.

In the past several years there has been a growing grass-roots movement to restore and revitalize the L.A. River and surrounding areas.  One of the first voices for this movement was Friends of the Los Angeles River, founded in 1986 by Lewis MacAdams.  We are thrilled that Lewis, as well as as Omar Brownson, Executive Director of LA River Revitalization, will be speaking at the event to help us learn more about the significance of the River.

The event will be held at the LALA Gallery, which supports great street artists like JRRoa, and Shepard Fairey.  LALA is tucked into a spacious corner of an old meat packing facility built in 1949, boasting high ceilings and a raw space that is a natural fit for street artists to bring their work inside.  The Iconathon will coincide with Bloomfest LA, a fun festival celebrating the Arts District.  We’re looking forward to winding down the day with some indie music on the KCRW Stage, great brews and good food!

This event is free and open to the public, anyone is welcome to participate – no design skills required.  Space is limited, so please RSVP.

Event Details

Date: Saturday, July 21st
Time: 11am to 4pm
Location: LALA Gallery at 1335 Willow Street, 2nd Floor in Los Angeles, CA 90013
Topic: L.A. River
Speaker on “LA River”: Omar Brownson, Executive Director of LA River Revitalization
Speaker on “Symbol Design & User Comprehension”: Edward Boatman, co-founder and Creative Director of The Noun Project

We’re grateful to the following Partners & Supporters for making this Iconathon possible:

American Institute of Architecture, Los Angeles Chapter
City of Los Angeles, Los Angeles River Revitalization
Friends of the Los Angeles River
Los Angeles River Corporation
LALA Gallery
LA Creek Freak
Mia Lehrer & Associates

LALA Gallery in Arts District

Neighborhood Revitalization Iconathon planned in San Francisco for June 30th

The Noun Project and Code for America have partnered with the City of San Francisco Mayor’s Office of Civic Innovation to host an Iconathon on Saturday, June 30th.  The design workshop will focus on creating a set of public domain symbols to visually communicate Neighborhood Revitalization.  These symbols will cross language and illiteracy barriers to communicate things like community gardens, stores that sell healthy food, and places to see public art.

We are working with San Francisco’s Central Market/Tenderloin neighborhoods as the site to inspire ideas for symbols.  This event is free and open to the public, anyone is welcome to participate – no design skills required!  Space is limited, so please RSVP.

Image of Tenderloin by Jake Levitas

We’d love to get your input about what symbols you think should be created during this Iconathon.  Please visit ImproveSF to see what symbols we’re considering, to submit your ideas and vote for your favorites.

Event Details

Date: Saturday, June 30th
Time: 10am to 3pm
Location: Code for America Headquarters at 155 9th Street, San Francisco, CA 94103
Theme: Neighborhood Revitalization
Speaker on “Central Market Area Revitalization”: Ellyn Parker from the Mayor’s Office of Economic Workforce and Development
Speaker on “Tactical Urbanism”: Dan Parham, co-founder of Neighborland
Speaker on “Symbol Design & User Comprehension”: Edward Boatman, co-founder and Creative Director of The Noun Project
Lunch: sponsored by Bars + Tone and faberNovel
Collaborators: Code for America, the Mayor’s Office of Civic Innovation and City & County of San Francisco
RSVP: Eventbrite

About San Francisco’s Central Market/Tenderloin Neighborhood

The Central Market neighborhood is a stretch of Market Street from 5th Street to Van Ness Avenue in the heart of San Francisco.  Situated next to Tenderloin, the neighborhood has for decades suffered from blight and neglect.  In 2010, San Francisco’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development launched the Central Market Partnership, a public/private initiative to renew and coordinate efforts to revitalize the Central Market neighborhood. The City’s goal is to restore Central Market as San Francisco’s downtown arts district by inviting in new retail, restaurants, services and employers, at the same time as ensuring against displacement.

The efforts to revitalize and transform the Central Market area have culminated in companies like Zendesk and Twitter paving the way forward by moving their headquarters to the area.

For more information visit www.centralmarketpartnership.org

New Iconathon – “Energy Efficiency” with Cree in Durham, N.C.

On Saturday, February 25th The Noun Project is heading to Durham, N.C. for the first Iconathon of 2012!  If you’re in the area, we’d love for you to join us in creating new symbols for Energy Efficiency.  Space is limited, so please RSVP.

This day-long collaborative design workshop is sponsored by Cree, Inc., one of the world’s largest manufacturers of LEDs and LED lights.  A few months ago they reached out to us,  bummed that the old incandescent light bulb and the twisty CFL bulb are still the only symbols used to represent lighting.  What’s amazing is that the incandescent light bulb has been around for 132 years, and yet whenever we need to symbolically represent “new” ideas, we still use the old bulb as the go-to symbol (we’ve been guilty of this many times).  But just think of all the innovative strides that have been made in the past 132 years.  Take, for example, the telephone.  If you go through the list of symbols for telephone on our site, you can see a beautiful progression from the candlestick telephone, to the behemoth first portable phones, to finally the new slender and compact iPhones.  Although there may not be so many drastic progressions for the light bulb, one of the symbols we want to design during this Energy Efficiency workshop is a new symbol for LED light – the most energy-efficient lighting to date (about 85% more efficient than incandescent bulbs and mercury-free unlike CFL’s).  How amazing would it be if this new symbol became the “it” symbol for new ideas, progressive thinking, and of course – light, just like the original incandescent light bulb has been for over 100 years?!

Think about how many other symbols we’re lacking that could represent the recent developments in Energy Efficiency.  Can you visualize a symbol for solar farms, weatherized homes, or wind turbines?  These technologies are so new, there just aren’t any easily-recognized symbols for them yet.  And we want to change that.

The event will begin with a presentation about Symbol Design & User Comprehension by Edward Boatman, co-founder & Creative Director of The Noun Project.  Paul Pickard, former head of research and development for Cree lighting, will speak about the important role energy-saving technologies play in conserving energy. Paul and his team designed and commercialized the first commercially viable LED downlight, so he is very passionate about energy-efficiency.  The presentations will be followed by a sponsored lunch, and then it’s on to creating a new set of universally-recognized symbols for Energy Efficiency!

As with all of our previous design workshops, the final set of graphic symbols will be added to the public domain and available for anyone to download for free.  You can see the symbols created during the previous events in the Iconathon symbol suite.

RSVP on EventBrite, or recommend which symbols we should create.