KNC12 DATA | MARK OF THE BEAST: Data literacy newsgame | Knight News Challenge 2012

One of my favourite among my entries in the Knight News Challenge: Data.

MARK OF THE BEAST | Data literacy newsgame

1. What do you propose to do? [20 words]
Mark of the Beast will tag people with temporary barcode tattoos and RFID as part of a data literacy newsgame.

2. How will your project make data more useful? [50 words]
Mark of the Beast will teach participants about good and bad data handling, hygiene and techniques by making them participants in its dissemination and management through a series of small tasks and exercises. Giving journalists and others data skills will elevate the quality of data-driven journalism, and conduct around data.

3. How is your project different from what already exists? [30 words]
Data education can be dry and tedious, especially with large data sets. Empowering people to have fun with their own and peers’ data can foster a better data journalism culture.

4. Why will it work? [100 words]
Mark of the Beast will succeed because humans are social and learn best through games. It’s how all of us start.
Participants mark themselves with a barcode tattoo and RFID tags to scan and check-in themselves and each other performing various tasks. It is a form of quantified-self data collection. That data is recorded and made available as part of the game. Participants can compete for achievements and rank. Tasks and milestones include processing and handling data as a journalist does. News and data journalism is a feature in the in-game world. Participants have fun, and learn skills.

5. Who is working on it? [100 words]
Saleem Khan: Project leader, journalist [editor and reporter, ex- CBC, Metro International, Toronto Star newspapers; chairman/director, Canadian Association of Journalists]; advisor, University of Toronto ThingTank Lab [Faculty of Information]; founder,


  • K. Khan: User experience strategist and designer, OCAD University sLab advisor; leader of UXI, Canada’s largest UX professionals group
  • M. Saniga, CA: President and co-founder, near-realtime business intelligence/data insight generation software firm Quant Inc.; former finance director and manager at Cara, Dell.
  • K. Seto: Founder of Massive Damage game studio and Endloop Mobile. Built Please Stay Calm, a popular location based game.

6. What part of the project have you already built? [100 words]
Mark of the Beast is in the research and planning stage, consulting with domain experts and iterating the project outline.

7. How would you use News Challenge funds? [50 words]
Mark of the Beast would produce a proof-of-concept prototype and test run(s) of the game.

8. How would you sustain the project after the funding expires? [50 words]
A freemium model and traditional investment avenues appear to be the most likely options at this time. There are also several public and private funds available in Ontario and Canada focused on digital media and game development, as well as university lab resource support.

Requested amount: $180,000
Expected number of months to complete project: 12
Total Project Cost: $240,000
Name: Saleem Khan
Twitter: @saleemkhan
Email address [optional]:
Organization: Technovica
City: Toronto
Country: Canada
How did you learn about the contest? I have followed and participated in the News Challenge for years.