Posted: October 29th, 2012 | Author: utunga | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »
Lots of live blogging and more than a couple crisis maps happening for hurricane Sandy. Proof that people are starting to ‘get it’ when it comes to real time news.
Nevertheless there are still many organisations that are so far behind the 8 ball that social media seems the only place to turn to.
For example, right now [6pm EST] many Manhattan based New Yorker’s are wondering if Con Ed is going to turn their power off at 7 pm or not. Con Ed released a press release this morning saying they ‘may’ do that. They also have a (supposedly live) outage map showing where power is out. Plus one for that.
Unfortunately the information on the outage map is not as up to date as the information they are sending out via robo-calling. As a result people are tweeting out the information they receive via robo call, and as usual, people are taking ad-hoc measures to make sense of things from what, unreliable, info they can gain thereby. Case in point, this manually created map of tweets relating to possible outages. Here’s an interesting ‘crowd sourced map‘ of hurricane Sandy pictures (via human.io).
Almost there Con*Ed but not quite.
In the meantime, everybody on the eastern seaboard, we’ll be thinking of you. Stay safe! Kia kaha. Arohanui.
UPDATE: We harvested a lot of photos from geo-located locations during hurricane Sandy. A small selection of these are pictured here http://sandy.groundfacts.com
Posted: September 4th, 2012 | Author: utunga | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »
Recently a “Tech In Asia” blog post , commenting on a story from plugged.in describing How Twitter, Google Docs helped thousands of stranded Mumbaikars find their way back #MumbaiRain said, quote:
..Such makeshift solutions to immediate civic problems around Asia should serve as a signal to developers that there is an itch out there that needs scratching. I wonder if any smart developers out there could devise a system that could be deployed quickly in a crisis to address such an issue.
Quite. And exactly.
Maybe we are such people? Could we be?
Posted: May 31st, 2012 | Author: Peter Kerr | Filed under: things happening now | No Comments »
By Peter Kerr
An interesting meeting of people who could help get groundfacts off the (sorry) ground today at Creative HQ, Wellington.
Ranging from university academics (with deep links into Govt), programmers and geeks, researchers and a couple of Enspiralites, (and me, a writer), exploring whether and how the idea that emerged at last year’s Wellington Startup weekend can get traction.
One fact that emerged is the huge volume of unusable (from a useful point of view) tweets that emerge in a crisis. Richard Clark checked out the figures following Japan’s earthquake/tsunami in March 2011. He reckoned there was 2000 ‘noisy’ tweets to every one that was helpful. Much of this noise is retweets and people from outside the disaster area wanting to know more.
groundfacts, admittedly a work in progress, wants to 1) figure out how to sort the noise from the news through a mix of automatic sorting plus human/manual intervention and 2) have an almost instant place the useful information appears on a map.
This would be as a home page for the disaster – a one place, first place of information for those in the middle of the disaster, those outside the zone who want to know more, government (especially, initially the relief teams) and media.
It seems that while many people around the world are circling around the challenges such a (sorted information) instant disaster home page would provide, no one yet has cracked it.
One thing that seemed to emerge is that an open source, open to all format would be best.
groundfacts (Inc) hasn’t yet figured out how to fund the development of such a project; suggestions are welcome.
Note to self: kickstarter?
Posted: May 30th, 2012 | Author: utunga | Filed under: groundfacts | No Comments »
I have found this talk between Max Haot and Chris Dixon to be very informative of my ideas for ground facts.
By far the most interesting part (if you can figure out how to navigate past the broken AOL Ad player) is where, at 01:30 seconds, they talk about the difference between immediacy and synchronicity
To paraphrase Chris Dixon
There are two concepts wrapped up when people talk about real time
1. immediacy – having it fast.
2. synchronicity - doing it, the social experience, knowing that other people are watching at the same time
And I think that [Synchronicity] is a more compelling reason of why people want to see it live.
The reason this is important to me is that the ground facts concept is about crowd sourcing. Crowd sourcing of information from a fast developing situation but also, critically, crowd sourcing the filtering of that information.
As we have already found people *in* a situation, like the Christchurch Earthquake(s) may have the time and connectivity to tweet out information, and in many cases to look up important information, but it seems a stretch that people in Christchurch could have the power, connectivity or time to sort through all the information and pull out the stuff that matters. That’s where we need people from outside the situation – and that’s where stuff like Groundfacts or Ushahidi comes into the picture, by helping to sort that information and putting it into context so that the people on the ground, can quickly and easily find just the parts of it that they need.
Ushahidi solves this problem through a ‘vounteer’ model. As many of us found out through involvement with eq.org.nz (using Ushahidi) that means bringing a lot of people into a room together so you can give them training and then passwords, and then ask them to work on the problem of filtering and classifying that information in an ‘in house’ type approach. Groundfacts vision is for another more truly crowd sourcing approach – where the volunteers come from the web at large, and can come and go as they choose. You then aggregate the ‘filtering’ itself to find the most upvoted information rather than just saying if a single volunteer ‘posts’ this information then it has become ‘true’. And for that to work you need a lot more people spending a lot more hours (in total, though not individually) on the problem.
And that brings us around to the point of this post. Why, you might ask, would people do that?
And I think the answer is yes because they can help, yes because its important, but ultimately (given the legendarily short attention spans of internet users) because of that feeling of sycnchronicity. Because yes, people want to help. But ultimately, perhaps more importantly at a gut level, people want to ‘be there’, and for the millions who can’t travel this will be the next best thing.
Posted: May 30th, 2012 | Author: utunga | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »
Not much information has been released yet but I would have to say this http://sign.al thing (Update: looks like they have changed their name to http://sigg.ly) looks like a thing to watch.
As they haven’t launched there is not much that can be gleaned about what they are doing other than what they have talked about in the tech press.
I think we very much agree with this idea and this approach, though perhaps not the idea that you absolutely *must* download a dedicated app to take part (we have focused more on the idea of harvesting the existing social streams more efficiently but a dedicated app also has advantages).
I particularly like the idea it is the brain child of a Lebanese entrepreneur. I say this because I’m sure he is in a perfect position to learn a lot through active engagement with many people that are actively using social media to determine real world situation on an ongoing basis.
Once again we wish them all the best with their new endeavor.
Posted: May 30th, 2012 | Author: utunga | Filed under: seen_on_the_web | No Comments »
Interesting development with the recent launch of GeoFeedia. (To be clear, it looks like they are still in early beta/alpha at this point).
As you can determine from the name they are focused on the aggregation of information from multiple sources (twitter, instagram, picasa, etc) according to geographic location. It would be interesting to see if they are using more than just the geo-tagging information embedded in a small percentage of posts in these sources or whether they have some clever ways to estimate locality information in other ways.
Reminds me a lot of http://teleportd.com I wonder how they consider themselves different from them? In any event we wish them all the best with their new endeavour and will be waiting our beta invite with great interest ;_)
Posted: May 27th, 2012 | Author: utunga | Filed under: seen_on_the_web | No Comments »
Interesting story out of Bulgaria.. where people needing information in an earthquake situation once again turn to social media to find out the information they couldn’t get from official channels. From AFP:
Keep calm and tweet: Bulgarians turn to blogs for quake info
SOFIA — Twitter’s ubiquitous “Keep calm and tweet on” poster caption acquired new meaning for quake-hit Bulgarians Tuesday.
Lack of any official information on traditional media for about an hour after a 5.8-magnitude earthquake struck near Sofia early Tuesday prompted people to flock to microblogs and social networks, searching for information but also reassurance.
Full story here…