Here’s the scene: you’re traveling, and you walk into a little restaurant and the menu is entirely in a language you don’t understand, without pictures. You’ve got a couple of choices. You can leave, and try to find a place with English translations. You can try to hack your way through a conversation with the waiter, who also doesn’t speak your language. Or, you can point randomly at the menu and live with the consequences.
Well, in the future there will be another, better, answer. Live, realtime translation built into your glasses. Enter: Project Glass. British hacker and DIYer Will Powell has built a pair of glasses that can (albeit roughly) project a translation of your conversation onto your glasses. Here’s what it looks like:
The purpose of PeaceTXT is to use mobile messaging (SMS) to catalyze behavior change vis-a-vis peace and conflict issues for the purposes of violence prevention. You can read more about our pilot project in Kenya here. We’re hoping to go live next month with some initial trials. In the meantime, we’ve been busy doing research to develop an appropriate monitoring and evaluation strategy. As is often the case in this new innovative initiatives, we have to look to other fields for insights, which is why my colleague Peter van der Windt recently shared this peer-reviewed study entitled: “Mobile Phone Technologies Improve Adherence to Antiretroviral Treatment in a Resource-Limited Setting: A Randomized Con-trolled Trial of Text Message Reminders.”
OSINT is passe. Governments and vendors to government have wasted 20 years and perhaps 25 billion dollars in that time. The refusal to focus on machine-speed translation and inserting geospatial attributes at all points of collection across all collection disciplines, while also refusing to accept multinational human sources unemcumbered by the idiocy of the clearance bureaucracy, have left governments in the stone age. The next big leap is going to be M4IS2 that routes around governments or — if governments reconnect to their integrity — embraces governments as beneficiaries of M4IS2 (they will never be the benefactors, but one Smart Nation could transform everything overnight). The biggest change in our own thinking has been the realization that education, intelligence, and research must be reinvented together, and that Open Source Everything is the only agile, acalable, shareable, and affordable means of achieving the necessary pervasive transformations.
There has been a lot of discussion recently about the personalisation of education. The sticking point is that most education is publicly funded, the state has a major stake in how it’s conducted, and therefore dictates what should be taught in schools. […]
by Steve Wheeler
There has been a lot of discussion recently about the personalisation of education. The sticking point is that most education is publicly funded, the state has a major stake in how it’s conducted, and therefore dictates what should be taught in schools. Because of lack of space, time and resources (you will always have this problem when the state intervenes) there is little latitude for personalised approaches and creativity is stifled. Every child gets the same content, and every child is tested in the same, standardised way. The result: children become disenfranchised and demotivated, teachers are exhausted and demoralised, schools are positioned unfairly in league tables, and governments measure success not through human achievement or creativity, but through cold, hard statistics. This is universal education, and if one size does not fit all … tough. Shame no-one has told the powers that be that universal education is unachievable.
Ivan Illich railed against this mindset way back in 1970 in his anarchical, visionary critique of the school system. In Deschooling Society, Illich called for personal learning through informal learning networks, and rejected the funnelling approach of mass, unidirectional, instructivist education systems. More recently, powerful modern day visionaries such as Stephen Heppell and Sir Ken Robinson are saying the same thing. They ask how we can sustain a factory model of education ‘production’, where children are ‘batch processed’ according to their age groups. It’s obvious to any teacher or parent that children develop at different rates, and all have different talents and interests. I suppose we have Jean Piaget and his fellow ‘stage theory’ psychologists to thank for that kind of constrained thinking.
My colleague Andrea Tapia and her team at PennState University have developed an interesting iPhone application designed to support humanitarian response. This application is part of their EMERSE project: Enhanced Messaging for the Emergency Response Sector. The other components of EMERSE include a Twitter crawler, automatic classification and machine learning.
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The iPhone application developed by PennState is designed to help humanitarian professionals collect information during a crisis. “In case of no service or Internet access, the application rolls over to local storage until access is available. However, the GPS still works via satellite and is able to geo-locate data being recorded.” The Twitter crawler component captures tweets referring to specific keywords “within a seven-day period as well as tweets that have been posted by specific users. Each API call returns at most 1000 tweets and auxiliary metadata […].” The machine translation component uses Google Language API.
This new book, Human Rights and Information Communication Technologies: Trends and Consequences of Use, promises to be a valuable resource to both practitioners and academics interested in leveraging new information & communication technologies (ICTs) in the context of human rights work. I had the distinct pleasure of co-authoring a chapter for this book with my good colleague and friend Jessica Heinzelman. We focused specifically on the use of crowdsourcing and ICTs for information collection and verification. Below is the Abstract & Introduction for our chapter.
Accurate information is a foundational element of human rights work. Collecting and presenting factual evidence of violations is critical to the success of advocacy activities and the reputation of organizations reporting on abuses. To ensure credibility, human rights monitoring has historically been conducted through highly controlled organizational structures that face mounting challenges in terms of capacity, cost and access. The proliferation of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) provide new opportunities to overcome some of these challenges through crowdsourcing. At the same time, however, crowdsourcing raises new challenges of verification and information overload that have made human rights professionals skeptical of their utility. This chapter explores whether the efficiencies gained through an open call for monitoring and reporting abuses provides a net gain for human rights monitoring and analyzes the opportunities and challenges that new and traditional methods pose for verifying crowdsourced human rights reporting.