Posts tagged ‘Politics’

Carnival of Carnivals Aug. 31, 2009

Cirque Rider, from Rae Belkin

Carnival is the current festive term for a news roundup, particularly if it’s participatory. It’s much happier than news in brief. Here are three I enjoy.

Have a carnival or roundup you like? Add your favorites in the comments.

Carnival of the Mobilists

Writers on mobile and wireless take turns hosting Carnival of the Mobilists. This week’s (#189) is on MSearchGroove, and is heavy on market trends rather than usage scenarios. I did enjoy the host’s new podcast for the inside scoop on SpinVox. SpinVox promises to automate transcription of voice mail messages to readable text. This is understandably attractive to mobile users and venture capitalists alike. However, human transcription is still a big part of the system. If that problem remains, SpinVox is left with cheap data entry based in developing nations, an operation that doesn’t scale, and questions about financial management.

The Weekly Sift (Politics)

(OK, I know the Sift doesn’t travel or rotate authorship. But it’s still an excellent blog roundup. So I’m sneaking it in under the Carnival tent.)

I used to read a lot of US political blogs. Now I rely on The Weekly Sift. Doug Muder chooses his sources for their insight, and adds much of his own as well. Doug is a skillful explainer – he started out as a mathematician before writing computer guides, and now blogs on politics and religion. Each Sift includes two or three in-depth stories plus a collection of short notes. I’ve known Doug for years, and his calm, humane, and sometimes bemused tone shines through his clear prose.

In the Short Notes from today’s Sift:

You’d expect the people who study visualization methods to have a really kick-ass way to visualize their subject matter. They do. Move your mouse around and watch for the pop-ups.

Amidst the forests of cone trees and decision trees I encountered the hype curve.

Gartner hype cycle

Incidentally, I’ve seen that curve recently in CGAP’s article on the hype cycle in mobile banking, and I keep hearing that microfinance in general is moving through its Trough of Disillusionment phase.

Encephalon (Brain and Mind)

For neuroscience and psychology, Encephalon is your source. Edition #74 is hosted at Neuronarrative and is enlivened by Python (Monty) humor. The topics are anything but lightweight, however! Free will, emotion, and intention… criminal behavior… brain fitness software… schizophrenia…

…and a spirited defense of flowcharts!

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August 31, 2009 at 6:38 pm Leave a comment

Crowdsourced election protection

In following innovative uses of SMS (text) messaging, I’ve been delving into the work of Ushahidi. The name means “testimony” in Swahili, and the platform crowdsources crisis information such as political upheavals or natural disasters. Anyone can submit updates through text messaging using a mobile phone, email or web form.

Ushahidi was developed to map reports of violence in Kenya after the post-election fallout at the beginning of 2008.

In breaking news, Alive in Afghanistan is using the Ushahidi mapping system to report election irregularities.

Map of citizen-reported Afghan election irregularities

Text messages are collected via Frontline SMS, another great system which uses free open source software to turn a laptop + mobile phone into a central communications hub. Easy to set up, portable, and resilient: just what is needed in chaotic circumstances.

The next issue is what to do with the flood of information that comes in beyond a heat map of incidence reporting. What do you pull out of the SMS or Twitter stream? What’s credible? What’s important? In particular, how do you deal with the first three hours of a crisis? Ushahidi founder and TED fellow Erik Hersman is tackling that problem now.

Graph: Quantity vs. quality of hour by hour crisis reporting data

A small team at Swift River is looking to the crowd to filter data as well as generate it.

Swift … is an initiative that seeks to do two very important things, both of which are crucial for not just Ushahidi, but for many emergency response activities in the future. First, it gathers as many possible streams of data about a particular crisis event as possible. Second, using a two-part filter, that stream of data is filtered through both machine based algorithms and humans to better understand the veracity and level of importance of any piece of information. –Erik

See it in action at Vote Report India.

August 20, 2009 at 11:32 am 1 comment


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