Thursday, September 27, 2012

Clay Shriky on a new form of democracy

If you don't know Clay Shriky, this is a good introduction to him.  He is explaining how open source systems could be used in a democracy.

Vancouver police and ICA finally catch suspect #1 in riots

"After a cross-country hunt, cops arrested their “most-elusive” Stanley Cup riot suspect, found working at a Saskatchewan potash mine.
Clad in Canucks garb on June 15, 2011, the suspect was labelled by the Integrated Riot Investigation Team as IRIT No. 1. His image was the first posted on a website used to identify alleged rioters.
Still unable to identify this suspect at the first-year anniversary of the riot in June, IRIT re-posted the suspect’s image on a top-10 wanted poster.
And Wednesday — after a search involving officers in Manitoba, Newfoundland and Saskatchewan — Jonathan Stephen Mahoney finally arrived back in B.C. to face justice."

You may remember after the riots that the Vancouver police asked help from the public to identify those who participated in the riots that destroyed a lot of property and caused injuries.  The public responded massively by sending in photos and video they had taken on cell phones and other devices.  Other publics then helped identify people from the photos posted on the police web site.  Dozens of arrests followed, thanks to simple cooperation between the police and the community over the internet.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Plumbing Collective Action

"Bulawayo City Council has asked its more than 1 million residents to flush their toilets simultaneously at 7:30 p.m. when water supplies are restored. City officials say "synchronized flushing" is needed to clear waste that would have accumulated in sanitary facilities which will have been affected by days of water outages.
Bulawayo's two main supply dams have been drying up because of drought conditions prevailing in the arid, southwestern part of Zimbabwe, raising fears of worsening water shortages before the rainy season starts in November.
Synchronized flushing was first introduced to Bulawayo two decades ago at the height of a drought that ravaged the southern African nation.
Residents told The Associated Press late Saturday that they weren't "aware" of the new system the city council was proposing. They said the whole issue wasn't properly communicated to them.
Old water pipes have not been replaced in years which saw world record inflation before the formation of a coalition government between longtime President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai."

I guess this doesn't have anything to do with the Internet, unless they were emailing people with a request to flush.  But this otherwise fits the pattern of ICA; a simple project a mass of people do together, and when the project is done, that's it.  

Friday, September 7, 2012

Is the Arab Spring dead?

"Well, Syria is likely to become an even bigger battleground for a proxy war between Hezbollah, Sunni rebels, government troops, Iran and al-Qaida. And once Syria collapses – or even before – Lebanon could ignite as well.
My Iraqi friend was right. The Arab Spring no longer exists.  "

This is a really pessimistic piece saying basically that wars will consume any peaceful protests, so just give up, all you people who think you can change your government.

Yet, peaceful protesters DID change their governments.  So I'm not quite sure why the author insists that we need only think about war now.  This seems amazingly pessimistic after what happened in Egypt, Tunisia, and elsewhere.  Just give up on collective action that kicked out a dictator and brought the first elections EVER to Egypt?  I don't think so.  I'm more optimistic than that.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

ICA used for safety concerns in Georgia

"In Georgia, Elva is being used to collect and share information about daily life in nearly two dozen border villages that participate in a 'Community Safety Network' developed by Saferworld. They are focused on such specific topics as shootings by troops or border police, the presence of armed groups, detentions of people for accidental or deliberate border crossings, and acts of physical violence, along with more subjective measures of safety and security. The information collected can be quite granular, as in tracking how often security providers and human rights monitors visit each village and whether or not those visits include speaking to local residents or not. 'People in these communities don't have access to the internet,' says Jonne Catshoek, Elva's project manager. So, in each village, a volunteer community representative has been recruited to respond to a pre-agreed weekly questionnaire via SMS. Each response to a question is coded with a different letter, and reps simply send one text message combining all those letters to a short code to send in their reports, which go straight from the mobile company via VPN to Elva's servers. Below is a sample page from the weekly questionnaire, along with an example of what a summary text message might read. It's an ingenious solution to an ordinarily complex data-gathering problem."

This is a great example of ICA and crowdsourcing being used to a good purpose.  A simple concept that requires little from each individual but collectively produces a useful tool for the whole community.