FIXIT: Ushahidi location lists

Today, a conversation amongst crisismappers went something like: “when are we going to migrate to IRC?” (this in response to yet another Skype idiosyncrasy getting in the way of the team), then “not until we have a decent interface for it on all platforms” and “we asked the weekend hackathons for this, but it’s not sexy: you can’t tell people you’re saving the world, or helping starving children with it”.  That’s a whole pile of cynicism and frustration, but behind it are three things: 1) mappers still don’t have all the tools they need, and are relying on people-as-processors to get round that, 2) mappers don’t know how to ask for tools in ways that gets them what they need, and 3) hackathons may not be the best place to get those non-sexy tools built. So. Options. Best is to find a good piece of existing open-source kit that almost…

Code for Good

International Space Apps – view from the virtual room

The International Space Apps Challenge is happening this weekend, at cities, space stations and virtually, all around the world. The livestream for it is here: Behind every global development hackathon is a team of people who act like glue, watching projects around the world and connecting up the ones that are related to each other, or can help each other or people who can just plain support each other when it’s dark and cold and they’ve discovered that there are limits to how long coffee and doughnuts can keep you awake for. Up to now it’s down to how many connections and projects we can keep in our heads at once, and what we’ve got scribbled on paper and files all over our pcs, and how many streaming windows we can physically fit onto all our screens (because one laptop is never enough if you’re keeping tabs on a…

Code for Good

What is a hackathon?

I accidentally ended up organising a hackathon recently. RHOK NYC could have been a tragedy. I was too overloaded to help organize it, the local Crisiscommons lead was too busy, and the young man who stepped in to lead was inexperienced with hackathons and unsupported but managed to pull things together well until the fortnight before, when RHOK NYC lost its venue. Which is a big deal in New York – – they’re not easy to come by for a weekend event with a sleep-over (or rather a crash on the floor for a couple of hours in-between coding -over). Oh, and the young man was unexpectedly out of the country at another event. So we cancelled, got talked back into trying again, and put out the call to the local volunteer technical community. The community answered us, in spades. Within a week, Phil from Open Plans found us a venue…

Code for Good

Global groups

And so onto the global groups that I’m tracking or part of. Crisismappers: (and ICCM conferences), Humanity Road, Standby Task Force, Geeks without bounds. Mappers: open street map, grassroots mappers ICT4dev: IEEE Engineering for Change Open Data: Open Knowledge Foundation (and CKAN). Big data: data without borders Social innovation: Code4America, Mardi, iHub, km4dev Technologies: NextNet (building a distributed decentralized internet), W3C, Women in technology: Women in Technology, Girl Geeks, 85 Broads Innovations: British Library Entrepreneurs, 15inno, Startup Bus This is only the start of a list that I’ll add to when I remember all the job-related groups that I’m involved in.

Code for Good

New York tech groups

I’ve been talking to quite a few people as part of the dayjob.  And I knew I was talking to quite a few communities, but even I was surprised when our communications officer asked just how many, and we counted over 100.  Which since I’ve only been doing this since January is rather a lot.  So first, if you’re part of a community that I talk to, please bear with me if I seem a little distracted. And second, part of the job is to create stronger links between these communities and the UN, so I thought I’d write about who I was talking to and why, to give other UN peeps some possibly-needed leads. This is going to take a while, so I’ve split it into three posts: international communities, local New York communities and UN projects and communities.  Later on, there are academics, companies and conferences, but for…