Newer posts are loading.
You are at the newest post.
Click here to check if anything new just came in.

October 30 2012

Four short links: 30 October 2012

  1. Fastly’s S3 Latency MonitorThe graph represents real-time response latency for Amazon S3 as seen by Fastly’s Ashburn, VA edge server. I’ve been watching #sandy’s effect on the Internet in real-time, while listening to its effect on people in real-time. Amazing.
  2. Button Upgrade (Gizmodo) — elegant piece of button design, for sale on Shapeways.
  3. Inside a Dozen USB Chargers — amazing differences in such seemingly identical products. I love the comparison between genuine and counterfeit Apple chargers. (via Hacker News)
  4. Why Products Fail (Wired) — researcher scours the stock market filings of publicly-listed companies to extract information about warranties. Before, even information like the size of the market—how much gets paid out each year in warranty claims—was a mystery. Nobody, not analysts, not the government, not the companies themselves, knew what it was. Now Arnum can tell you. In 2011, for example, basic warranties cost US manufacturers $24.7 billion. Because of the slow economy, this is actually down, Arnum says; in 2007 it was around $28 billion. Extended warranties—warranties that customers purchase from a manufacturer or a retailer like Best Buy—account for an estimated $30.2 billion in additional claims payments. Before Arnum, this $60 billion-a-year industry was virtually invisible. Another hidden economy revealed. (via BoingBoing)

May 31 2011

Four short links: 31 May 2011

  1. Rinderpest Eradicated -- only the second disease that mankind has managed to eradicate. This one was a measles-like virus that killed cattle and caused famines. A reminder of how astonishingly difficult it is to eradicate disease, but what a massive victory it is when it happens. (via Courtney Johnston)
  2. Magnetic South -- the 6.3 earthquake that trashed Christchurch, New Zealand, has presented the city with a tabula rasa (or, rather, tabula rubble) for the rebuild: what should they build, how, and where? The good citizens are working on this question in many ways, one of which is this online game based on Institute for the Future's Foresight Engine.
  3. TOPS-20 in a Box -- write FORTRAN code on an emulated PHP-10 running TOPS-20 and, most delightfully, play the original Adventure as written by Crowther and finished by Woods. It's like emulating the Big Bang for text adventures. When you're done, admire the scholarship in this analysis of the original to see how much Woods added. (Text adventures are the game version of command-line interfaces, and we still have much to learn from them)
  4. Why Does Modern Perl Avoid UTF-8 By Default? (StackOverflow) -- check out the very long and detailed answer by my coauthor, Tom Christiansen, on exactly how many thorns and traps lie in wait for the unwary "it should just WORK"er. Skip down to the "Assume Brokenness" section for the full horror. Tom's been working with linguists and revising the Unicode chapters of the Camel, so asking "why can't it just work" is like asking a war veteran "why don't you just shoot all the bad guys?".

January 27 2011

Social data and geospatial mapping join the crises response toolset

A new online application from geospatial mapping giant ESRI applies trend analysis to help responders to Australia's recent floods create relevance and context from social media reporting. A screenshot of the Australian flood trends map is embedded below:

This web app shows how crowdsourced social intelligence provided by Ushahidi enables emergency social data to be integrated into crisis response in a meaningful way.

The combination of Ushahidi and ESRI in Australia shows that "formal and innovative approaches to information collection and analysis during disasters is possible," said Patrick Meier, "and that there is an interface that can be crafted between official and non-official responses." Meier is a research fellow at the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative and director of crisis mapping at Ushahidi and was reached via email.

The Australian flooding web app includes the ability to toggle layers from OpenStreetMap, satellite imagery, topography, and filter by time or report type. By adding structured social data, the web app provides geospatial information system (GIS) operators with valuable situational awareness that goes beyond standard reporting, including the locations of property damage, roads affected, hazards, evacuations and power outages.

Russ Johnson, ESRI's global director for emergency response, recently spoke with me at the ESRI federal user conference in Washington, D.C. Johnson spent 32 years as a federal employee in southern California, predominantly working in the U.S. Forest Service. He was one of the pioneers who built up the FEMA incident response system, and he commanded one of the 18 teams around the nation that deploy assets in the wake of floods, fires and other disasters. At ESRI, Johnson helps the company understand the workflow and relevance of GIS for first-response operations.

Our full interview is contained in the following video. Excerpts are noted below.

What happened in Australia with ESRI and Ushahidi?

"This was the first time that a major media group used Ushahidi and its media reach to crowdsource reports from the disaster affected population," said Meier. "The combination of crowdsourced reporting with official reporting is noteworthy. And the fact that all of Ushahidi's services were used simultaneously in Queensland is a first."

Johnson hailed Ushahidi for its value as a platform for creating more "boundaried data" from the crisis data circulated around a given event. When better filters have been applied to social data, tagging or filtering, there's an opportunity to add it to GIS. "The web app allows the user to start toggling on social media of a specific variety and then turn on GIS to add hotspotting information," said Johnson. "Based upon that filter, which can be added to the validity of certain information, you can start to see needed resources."

It's similar to leading edge experiments with putting loosely bounded social data into structured forms to make it more actionable, said Johnson. "It makes it all more trustworthy — or at least your confidence is higher. We're all trying to figure out how to take this gift and use it to become more effective and intelligent. The area I work in — mapping and geography — immediately provides context. If we can refine that context, it can lead us to other capabilities. If we know where other responders are located, can we direct closest available resource to the highest need problems."

August 30 2010

Four short links: 30 August 2010

  1. Free as in Smokescreen (Mike Shaver) -- H.264, one of the ways video can be delivered in HTML5, is covered by patents. This prevents Mozilla from shipping an H.264 player, which fragments web video. The MPEG LA group who manage the patents for H.264 did a great piece of PR bullshit, saying "this will be permanently royalty-free to consumers". This, in turn, triggered a wave of gleeful "yay, now we can use H.264!" around the web. Mike Shaver from Mozilla points out that the problem was never that users might be charged, but rather that the software producer would be charged. The situation today is just as it was last week: open source can't touch H.264 without inviting a patent lawsuit.
  2. Crowdsourcing for Pakistan Flood Relief -- Crowdflower are geocoding and translating news reports from the ground, building a map of real-time data so aid workers know where help is needed.
  3. Dirpy -- extract MP3 from YouTube. Very nice interface. (via holovaty on Delicious)
  4. Three Rules of Thumb for Bloom Filters -- Bloom filters are used in caches and other situations where you need fast lookup and can withstand the occasional false positive. 1: One byte per item in the input set gives about a 2% false positive rate. For more on Bloom Filters, see Maciej Ceglowski's introduction. (via Hacker News)

August 11 2010

Hearing those digital cries for help

Gov 2.0 Summit, 2010New research from the Red Cross shows that online, people increasingly rely on social media to seek help in a disaster. As ReadWriteWeb reported, the Red Cross survey found that 74 percent of social media users expect help within an hour.

Tomorrow in Washington, D.C., the Red Cross will convene an Emergency Social Data Summit, bringing together representatives from the White House, technologists, first responders, non-governmental communities, and citizens to "address how to reply to these digital cries for help more effectively."

What's at the heart of this phenomenon? Simply put, the Internet is helping disaster response evolve -- and quickly. In the video below, NPR's senior social strategist, Andy Carvin talks about how people all over the world are collaborating to help in crisis.

After the jump, learn more about the summit, the power of platforms for collective action, and the rising adhocracy that empowers citizens to help one another online.

Convening the Emergency Social Data Summit

The agenda includes Gail McGovern, president and CEO of the American Red Cross, @WhiteHouse's Macon Phillips, FEMA administrator Craig Fugate>, uberblogger Robert Scoble, podcamper Christopher Penn, CrisisCommons' Heather Blanchard and Noel Dickover, Ushahidi's Patrick Meier and dozens of others who have been involved in disaster response using social media, including myself. Beth Kanter, a noted authority on "networked nonprofits" and social media, wrote about the emergency social dataevent on her blog.

In January, after the Haiti earthquake struck, if you were participating on social networks, you couldn't help but notice the many, many Tweets and Facebook status messages about the Haiti earthquake.   The messages included pleas for support or retweeting the news, but beyond that the stream included pleas from people on the ground in Haiti asking for emergency assistance or letting loved ones and friends know they're okay.

Social media has radically changed how people communicate, including their calls for help. As we have seen in natural disasters from Hurricane Katrina to the Chile earthquake, people are using social media to reach out for help. And they expect a response from emergency and disaster response organizations. To meet this growing challenge, the American Red Cross is launching an initiative to address how to reply to these digital cries for help more effectively.

Kanter's company Zoetica, and co-founders Geoff Livingston and Kami Huyse , have been working with the Red Cross on the summit for months. As Kanter pointed out, this initiative includes more than hosting the Emergency Social Data Summit itself, with an accompanying backchannel on Twitter on the #crisisdata hashtag.

As has been the case for the disaster communications, "the Summit will use both established and more experimental social media tools and platforms to involve people who are not in the room in the discussion," wrote Kanter. Along with Twitter, those tools include:

Kanter described it as "a geo location crowdsourced storytelling application. Conference attendees will have the opportunity to join an "Emergency Data Society," on the service, which Kanter said "will facilitate a self-organized, community scrapbook of the event from attendees."

The power of crisis response platforms

The Red Cross has posted the first three chapters of a white paper based on the Summit's themes at the emergency social data blog, including the case for integrating crisis response with social media, how social media has changed news gathering during disaster response, and the crisis collaboration movement, which documents the growth of Crisis Commons from camps in 2009 to a globally distributed platform. All three of these posts are thorough investigations of a shift from a citizenry limited by a broadcast model and disaster fatigue to an empowered, participatory public.

I'm humbled to have contributed to documenting the first Crisis Camp Haiti and subsequent efforts this spring and summer, and to have attended the first international Crisis Congress. As aspirations translated to code, a movement of "geeks without borders spread around the globe. More recently, responding to the Gulf oil spill, Crisis Commons delivered Oil Reporter, an open data initiative that provided a "suite of tools and resources that encourages response organizations to capture and share data with the public."

The energy, passion and innovation that collectively drive Crisis Commons are possible because we're in a unique historical moment. Hundreds of millions of people online can see disasters like the Haiti earthquake unfold on the real-time Web. Unlike the natural disasters or man-made crises of the past, however, citizens, government, media and developers can now do more to help those affected, whether by mobile donations, crisis mapping, timely tweets or random hacks of kindness.

Given the scope of the crises that humanity faces, the power of social software to empower citizens is of critical interest to many constituencies. After tomorrow's summit concludes, I'll be looking forward to hearing about making states work better from Clare Lockhart, Steve Killelea and Ory Okolloh at the Gov 2.0 Summit in Washington.

The challenges, successes, and opportunities presented by new platforms for civic engagement and empowerment call into question recent reports of crowdsourcing losing steam. The increasing use of online platforms for civic engagement as platforms for civic empowerment hints at what might be possible in the future, as more sophisticated tools are developed for an increasingly connected humanity. After Haiti, collaborative action between government, developers, citizens, and NGOs is no longer an academic theory: it's a proud art of our history. The "adhocracy" that Alvin Toffler presciently described in 1970 has come to be through the power of networks. To put the power of that possibility in perspective, here's Tim O'Reilly speaking at OSCON:

And here's Andy Carvin's talk and slides on The New Volunteers: Social Media, Disaster Response And You:

I hope you'll tune in to the Emergency Social Data Summit tomorrow.



Related:

May 26 2010

Crisis Commons releases open source oil spill reporting

oil-reporter.11-174x300.pngCrisis Commons has released a new open data initiative to enable response organizations to report from the oil spill. Oil Reporter allows response workers to capture and share data with the public as they respond to the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill.

"The cool thing about the app is that the photos and information will be open to anyone to use," said Heather Blanchard, co-founder of Crisis Commons. "We want response organizations to use it. They can localize the app with their own logo and add data elements, thus expanding the API. They can be assigned a code so they can compare their data with the public. We believe the data with codes would be more of a verified set, as they would be response organizations and their volunteers using those codes."

These smartphone apps allow response workers to take geotagged photographs, record video, and enter text and basic data elements, like instances of oil and affected wildlife. The Oil Reporter app provides official phone numbers to report oiled beaches, wildlife and volunteer information links.

Oil Reporter uses an open API for greater information sharing. Response organizations wishing to expand data elements of the API can do so by requesting customization through the match program. All data provided by the response organizations and those using Oil Reporter is public data.

Data collected utilizing the Oil Reporter mobile applications will be managed by San Diego State University’s Visualization Center. Dr. Eric Frost will lead a team to provide visualization tools and products based on the Oil Reporter data. Response organizations requiring assistance will be able to submit a request via www.oilreporter.org for volunteer visualization and analytics support.

Organizations can adopt and customize the code for Oil Reporter as needed, including adding data collection elements. Oil Reporter mobile application source code is publicly available on GitHub for reuse and customization. Response organizations that want to create an Oil Reporter app can make a request for help from volunteer mobile developers.

More details about the development of the app and the many people who worked on it over the past weeks can be found at the Crisis Commons blog post on Oil Reporter.

You can follow @OilReporter on Twitter or Facebook. As pictures and videos are added, watch the Oil Reporter Flickr group and Oil Reporter YouTube channel.

February 23 2010

Four short links: 23 February 2010

  1. SMS in Disaster Response -- Haitians SMS urgent needs to 4636, where they're translated through crowdsourcing and acted on. All based on the Uhsahidi SMS engine.
  2. Inside Open Source's Historic Victory -- open source developer wins against someone who took his work, added it to an open patent application, and then sued the open source developer for violating his patent.
  3. What's Wrong with Confidence (Pete Warden) -- the lean startup approach and the scientific method. Good read, with two magnificent quotes: "Strong opinions, weakly held, and Confidence is vital for getting things done, but it has to be a spur to test your theories, not a lazy substitute for gathering evidence.
  4. If You're a Pirate -- the user experience of legitimate DVDs is shite. That's not the only reason that people pirate, but it sure ain't helping.

February 22 2010

Four short links: 22 February 2010

  1. Schuyler Erle's blog -- Schuyler, a leading geohacker, is in Haiti as part of a World Bank effort to rebuild geospatial infrastructure. His blog posts and twitpics are excellent.
  2. Panton Principles -- basic groundrules for useful open data in science. Raises the flag of licensing: arbitrary license clauses or hastily-repurposed software licenses lead to a quagmire of incompatible licenses and prevent useful combinations of data, just as license proliferation in open source created a confusing and difficult environment for people trying to combine multiple open source projects' code.
  3. The Internet? Bah! (Cliff Stohl) -- piece from 1995, which I remember reading when it was first published. It stands as a great reminder that scale and change happen: in 1995 there were barely 16 million Internet users and statements like this seemed self-evident: Then there's cyberbusiness. We're promised instant catalog shopping--just point and click for great deals. We'll order airline tickets over the network, make restaurant reservations and negotiate sales contracts. Stores will become obselete. So how come my local mall does more business in an afternoon than the entire Internet handles in a month? Even if there were a trustworthy way to send money over the Internet--which there isn't--the network is missing a most essential ingredient of capitalism: salespeople. (via Hacker News)
  4. Leadership Lessons from Dancing Guy (YouTube) -- 3m long and it's a brilliant insight into creating a movement. Must watch. (via robertobrien on Twitter)

February 15 2010

Four short links: 15 February 2010

  1. Tale of Android Phone in Earthquake in Haiti -- guy in Haiti with working unlocked Android phone and Internet connection used it to channel Facebook "save me" requests to rescuers. (via Andy Linton)
  2. Microsoft Operating Income by Division -- the title says "income", the graph says "profit", but either way the online division of Microsoft isn't healthy. (Love the small Vista tick and large Windows 7 tick).
  3. SVG Editor in the Browser (via kevinmarks on Twitter)
  4. Algorithmic Recruitment with Github -- crawling GitHub, building in-memory graph of developers, selecting for connectedness and influence.

January 26 2010

Four short links: 26 January 2010

  1. If Kids Are Awake, They're Probably Online (NYTimes) -- kids aged 8-18 spend, on average, 10 hours/day using smart phone, computer, television, or some other electronic device. (via Hamish MacEwan)
  2. Brazil's WIPO Proposal on Patent Limitations and Exceptions -- well-argued proposal for balanced IP law.

    16.Our experience also illustrates how difficult it is to effectively make use of compulsory licenses. Our pharmaceutical industry took almost two years to develop and produce the licensed patent, because, unfortunately the patent, as granted in Brazil and in other countries, was not sufficiently revealed to allow its production as promptly as desired.

    17.We reserve the right to come back to the discussion of this problem in other documents concerning to what extent the disclosure of patents is preserving (or not) the essentials of the patent system. The question we now pose ourselves is: considering the checks and balances of the patent system, what is the value of a patent if a third party cannot use it when it falls into the public domain or, exceptionally, when its compulsory licensing is deemed necessary?

  3. OpenStreetMaps the Default in Haiti -- rescue workers are loading OSM street maps onto GPS units to get street-level detail maps of Haiti. The team members are thrilled to have this resource you have created. I wish you could see their faces ‘light up’ when I take their GPS unit and tell them that I’m going to give them street level detail maps. (via Simon Willison)
  4. We-to-Me Participation (Nina Simon) -- useful mental framework for thinking about social software and online experiences, both from the point of view of a cultural institution and for any online activity. Stage one provides people with access to the content that they seek. Stage two provides an opportunity for inquiry and for visitors to take action and ask questions. Stage three lets people see where their interests and actions fit in the wider community of visitors to the institution. Stage four helps visitors connect with particular people—staff members and other visitors—who share their content and activity interests. Stage five makes the entire institution feel like a social place, full of potentially interesting, challenging, enriching encounters with other people.

January 23 2010

CrisisCamps and the Pattern of Disaster Technology Innovation


Over the past three years I have been working to bridge gaps between the tech community & traditional emergency management organizations.  I've focused on helping technologists adapt technologies to support humanitarian missions, often in response to a disaster.  
After Hurricane Katrina, Mikel Maron and I discovered a pattern for successful innovation during and after disasters.  Understanding this pattern is crucial to "Serving Those that Serve Others".
Pattern for DisasterTech Innovation 1. Disaster2. Ad-Hoc Adaptation 3. Championship 4. Iterative Improvement
crisiscamp-logo.pngThere is an unprecedented amount of interest and attention in finding ways to help in Haiti & around the world.  The CrisisCamp & CrisisCommon projects are coordinating events and helping match organizations with needs to volunteers with skills.  I encourage you to participate, and volunteer your time, knowledge, and resources.  
Serve those that serve others.  You can make a difference now.

Upcoming Crisis Camps



Older posts are this way If this message doesn't go away, click anywhere on the page to continue loading posts.
Could not load more posts
Maybe Soup is currently being updated? I'll try again automatically in a few seconds...
Just a second, loading more posts...
You've reached the end.

Don't be the product, buy the product!

Schweinderl