Warning: liveblogging. Typos, errors and grammatical insanities likely. This post will change repeatedly over a period of time. Refresh for the latest updates. You are warned.
Juliana Rotich – Ushahidi
In 2008 Kenya had some “contentious” elections. She, and other Kenyans living abroad, were traumatised by what was happening in the country. They ended up setting up a mashup to show what was going on where, because TV was failing them. It was showing movies while homes were burning. Internet penetration was not high in Kenya then, but a mobile component allowed people to text in. In Africa SMS is key.
They’ve iterated on the platform – Ushahidi – since then and made it open source. Twitter has a fail whale, they have a fail elephant. One of their first mistakes was putting a sign up sheet in front of their open source code…
They have a core team spilt between seven time zones. When the Japanese earthquake happened, there was a local developer already playing with the code. Soon, there was a site.
It’s been used for citizen journalism: Harassmap in Cairo tracks harassment of women. The Oil Spill Crisis Map added data to what you saw on TV. By the City / For the City and Fix Your Street crowd source and map urban improvement and repair ideas.
The age of being told “hey, this is the news” is over. We’ve seen it again and again with the fall of dictatorships. We’re discovering what it means to have a two way exchange of information instead. It gives people a voice in marginalised communities: Voiceofkibera.org
Two people used a map in Russia to help co-ordinate those offering assistance, rather than tracking what was happening. When the UK riots happened, The Guardian used the platform to crowdsource information on the community clean up efforts.
Technology is allowing us to connect, collaborate and explore what we can do.
Crowdmap.com – their cloud-based service. You used to have to download and install the platform. Now you can do it online in minutes. Why is real-time geographic date important? Do a Google search for radiation clinics in Japan you get some static results. A real time geographic view would get you closer to what you need. Crowdmap has an iOS app that alerts you to local datasets.
It can also be used for non-crisis applications, like local art festivals. And they’re moving forwards by thinking about sensor data. One guys started tracking noise levels in New York with a sensor. The observation from the sensor data can check the official data (in pachube). And they’re working on other tools to help filter information. Swiftriver is a way of parsing massive amounts of data.
Chris Baréz-Brown – why becoming Elvis will make you better at work
He finds too many people sitting around being clever in businesses, predicting the future but not actually making things happen. We’re almost disabled by our logic. Our consciousness cannot remember much of our lives – but our subconscious has the potential to remember pretty much everything. It can wake us up one minute before our alarm – but it can also find solutions to our problems.
If you can make stuff real and bring it to life, it brings obvious benefit. Dyson did over 5000 vacuums before he got the one which worked – but he learned from each one. You try, you learn and you adapt.
Disney has a chief imagineer – his job is to come up with new ideas for the theme parks and rides. He saw how excited his children got about being near animals, and he proposed an animal kingdom. The board rejected it. he kept coming back. They gave him one last chance. He brought a bengal tiger to the meeting. They signed off in 60 seconds. You have to make innovation an experience people can understand.
Chris is a pros and cons list guy – with statistical weightings. And he and his wife used that to try and determine whether to have kids. It didn’t work. So instead, they decided not, and locked it in with NLP. And then saw how they felt. He was excited by the idea of sports cars, loft apartments and exotic holidays. But soon he was thinking about Christmas, about the future, about the friends they would have… And they changed their minds. They made the situation real – and they got a clearer message from their subconsciouses.
The best innovators just feel that an idea is good. The best leaders of innovation do this gut reaction repeatedly. Logical innovation is like driving a car forwards while looking in a rear view mirror – logic is looking for past experience. Bringing ideas to life in a visceral way enables your subconsciousness as a guiding force.
Molly Bedingfield – making it easy to make a difference
In 2005 I’d just started the charity when I got a phone call from Bear Grylls. I didn’t know who he was.” Global Angels has made partnerships on the ground which cover all its admin costs, meaning that donations move in full to where they need to go.
That’s the promise of the charity – 100% of donations go to empower children and communities on the ground. It’s a new model, responding to the growing scepticism about institutions, and a desire for transparency from charities. Every £5 = one person with water in Africa for 10 years.
They also giving people the option to choose exactly – down to the village – where their money goes. Corporate sponsors donate offices, marketing and all the support they need to run the business. They have an advisory board “to die for”. That’s what allows them to give the public the 100% promise.
Gabrielle Laine-Peters – Living Life after 9/11
Gabrielle is taking us through what happened to her on September 11 2001. We all remember where we were – it’s the JFK moment of our time, but one we’re still living with the consequences of a decade later. On the 10th September? She was having a normal day. The usual scraps and arguments were happening. The US was about to tip into recession. A new TV show was just about to launch: 24. Michael Jackson was about to play Madison Square gardens. Gabrielle was working as an architectural designer, a job she’d always wanted. She lived downtown, across the street from the World Trade Centre. It was her neighbourhood.
Oh, and she worked in the complex. It was a beautiful blue sky day. She’d been for a run. She’d grabbed an ice tea and headed home. The first plane hit while she was in the lift. The first she saw was on the BBC ticker on her screen. She thought “damn cessna pilots”. Her window faced the other way. She phoned home to England and told her parents she was fine.
People forget this was a neighbourhood, with a community.
She hung up, turned to her left, and saw a passenger plane bank and turn left. It wasn’t doing what it was meant to be doing. She ran to the centre of her apartment, and felt the blast wave hit. She broke her ribs. She took painkillers, strapped herself up, and headed for the fire stairs. One lot had smoke, another were pitch black. The sound was absolutely immense. She has no power. No news. No radio. People are evacuating down the street below her. The building began to shudder – that was the first tower coming down. Her windows went opaque because of the dust. Then the second went down. She was still on her own, in this building, her chest hurting. And then there was a knock on her door.
It was a neighbour. He was dutch, and terrified. He’d been in New York for a short while. Six hours later, there was another knock on the door. She’s never been so happy to see someone in a breathing mask. She was triaged and taken to hospital.
She did that very British thing. She got her health back. She focused on work. She thought she was healing. Everyone was in the same boat. You’re on autopilot. You fool yourself. You say you’re allright – and you start to believe it. The fires burnt for 70 days. They had a huge party for her birthday in Feb – she had to have a corset made as she’d actually broken her back. 217 people wrote in the guestbook for that party, one third of them she didn’t know.
She moved. She got on with life. Sarah Jessica Parker was in her neighbourhood watch group. She went for dinner at a restaurant which she had last visited with someone who died in the towers. The floodgates opened. Post-traumatic stress. She took six months off work, and had so much support from people in the area. A professor from university paid her electricity bill, because she couldn’t write a cheque. People talk about the kindness of strangers. This was the kindness of a community.
She came back to the UK, and started building her social media use, which she’d used to keep in contact with her community back in New York. An encounter with Alistair Campbell and some advice she gave lead to a new career advising in these things. The geeky people she was learning with are now the people writing books and running conferences. Online and offline blur. You can build friendships through digital. She has.
Twitter enabled her to get to the last space shuttle launch at NASA. It was beautiful and loud – and there was a huge shockwave. Just like 9/11. But it was beautiful and happy. It didn’t balance it out, but it made a difference. And so did the cute astronaut…
She has no regrets about what happened. She’s standing here. But you have to maximise the moment. Every moment. Lots of small things put together. Community is the heartbeat of New York City – or the bleeding edge of social media. Go out there and embrace the power of the crowd, the power of the few and the power of the one.