SAN FRANCISCO — Inside a darkened theater a viewer floats in a redwood forest displayed with Imax-like clarity on a cavernous overhead screen.
The hovering sensation gives way to vertigo as the camera dives deeper into the forest, approaches a branch of a giant redwood tree, and then plunges first into a single leaf and then into an individual cell. Inside the cell the scene is evocative of the 1966 science fiction movie “Fantastic Voyage,” in which Lilliputian humans in a minuscule capsule take a medical journey through a human body.
There is an important difference — “Life: A Cosmic Journey,” a multimedia presentation now showing at the new Morrison Planetarium here at the California Academy of Sciences, relies not just on computer animation techniques, but on a wealth of digitized scientific data as well.
OCHA, UNOSAT and NetHope have been collaborating with the Volunteer Technical Community (VTC) specifically CrisisMappers, Crisis Commons, Open Street Map, and the Google Crisis Response Team over the past week.
The CrisisMappers Standby Task Force has been undertaking a mapping of social media, news reports and official situation reports from within Libya and along the borders at the request of OCHA. The Task Force is also aiding in the collection and mapping of 3W information for the response. UNOSAT is kindly hosting the Common Operational Datasets to be used during the emergency. Interaction with these groups is being coordinated by OCHA’s Information Services Section.
The public version of this map does not include personal identifiers and does not include descriptions for the reports mapped. This restriction is for security reasons. All information included on this map is derived from information that is already publicly available online (see Sources tab).
In the midst of this transition in Libya, one of the most devastating earthquakes in centuries hit northern Japan, causing one of the most destructive tsunamis in recent memory. Just hours after the earthquake, a member of Japan's OpenStreetMap community launched a dedicated Crisis Map for the mega-disaster. A few hours later, Japanese students at The Fletcher School (which is where the Ushahidi-Haiti Crisis Map was launched) got in touch with the Tokyo-based OpenStreetMap team to provide round-the-clock crisis mapping support.
Over 4,000 reports have been mapped in just 6 days. That's an astounding figure. Put differently, that's over 600 reports per day, or one report almost every two minutes for 24 hours straight over 6 days. What's important about the Japan Crisis Map is that the core operations are being run directly from Tokyo and the team there is continuing to scale it's operations. It's very telling that the Tokyo team did not require any support from the Standby Volunteer Task Force. They're doing an excellent job in the midst of the biggest disaster they've ever faced. I'm just amazed.
In a recent trip to China, I discovered something of the direction of the national policy of that country towards the development of the Internet. In a speech in Wuxi, the Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao spoke of the drive to build the “internet of things” and provided the interesting equation:
Internet + Internet of Things = Wisdom of the Earth
The parallels between this statement of policy and the GeoWeb are striking. The GeoWeb has been viewed from a vareity of perspectives, a few of these are:
As the integration of all business processes that deal with the physical world, i.e. that deal with our understanding of, and action in/on, the physical world.
As a Web of interconnected documents that describe the physical world.
As a Web of systems by which we control and manage our actions and interact with the physical world.
As a planetary accounting system that helps us all understand the “state of things” at the local, regional, and global level – whether that be the state of arctic polar bear habitat, or that of crowding in the city of Mumbai.
As a sort of Digital Nervous System for the planet that alerts us to changes in the state of our world.
Berto Jongman is one of the top Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) pioneers. Word Press search has its good and bad features. Good is that it updates instantly. Bad is that it prefers simple searches e.g. <Jongman map> without the brackets. Neutral is the fact that for older references, you will have to wade through every more current reference that cites the older reference. If there were an Open Source Agency, the first three things it would do would be to commission an update of this map integrating all ten high-level threats; create a global intelligence, policy, and budget council for each of the thirty factors using citation analysis and making it multinational; and create the EarthGame with Policy-Budget Citizen Outreach.
Social entrepreneur challenging conventional wisdom
Samasource–microwork (small digital tasks that can be done on an inexpensive computers).
Building 21st Century assembly line that can break down massive tasks (e.g. updating addresses for Google maps, or translating emergency messages from Creole to English). Won contracts with Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft.
15% premium for socially-conscious companies, AND competitive on cost, quality, and turnaround time.
Small scale digital tasks did not exist before.
Transforming lives, especially women, young men, and refugees. $5 a day is very much better than local norms, and buys an active English-speaking brain with hands able to do quality work.
IMPORTANT: Developing world is out-pacing USA and West generally in extending Internet infrastructure to the poor–centers created, humans come in, also doing viewing (Gorgon Stare, take note!), creating logs of store videos on shopper buying habits, anything that can be noticed and logged by a human–$5 a day.
Phi Beta Iota: We could not, in a million years, have found a better “off-set” to the USAF Gorgon Stare program. This micro-tasking, combining human brains and hands with Internet access, is one of the most profoundly intelligent and socio-economically useful ideas we have seen in our lifetimes (there are 800 of us here). BRAVO.
The American Way of War: If You Can See Everything, Can You Know Anything?
With Air Force's new drone, ‘we can see everything,'in today's Washington Post (attached below) is a good example of how the high-cost addiction to techno war is running amok. One thing ought to be clear in Afghanistan: A tiny adversary armed with the most primitive weapons, and a command and control system made up of prayer rugs and cell phones, has brought the high tech US military to a stalemate … or even worse, the looming specter a grand-strategic defeat, because we are becoming economically and morally exhausted by the futility of this war. It does not matter whether it is President Obama presiding over a vapid strategic review or a low ranking grunt on point in Afghanistan — the central problem facing the United States in Afghanistan is the absence of what the Germans call fingerspitzengefühlor the feeling in the fingerprints needed for an intuitive feel for or connection with one's environment.
As the American strategist Colonel John Boyd (USAF Ret.) showed, fingerspitzengefühl is absolutely essential to the kind of synthetic (as opposed to analytic) thinking that is necessary for quick, relevant, and ultimately successful decision making in war, where quick decisions and sharp actions at all levels must be made and harmonized in an ever-present atmosphere of menace, uncertainty, mistrust, fear, and chaos that impedes decisive action.
To paraphrase Clausewitz, these difficulties multiply to produce a kind of friction, and therefore, even though everything in war is simple, the simplest thing is difficult. Clausewitz considered friction is the atmosphere of war. Nevertheless, according to the Post, the Air Force is about to deploy to Afghanistan a “revolutionary airborne surveillance system called Gorgon Stare, which will be able to transmit live video images of physical movement across an entire town.”
Quoting Maj. Gen. James O. Poss, the Air Force's assistant deputy chief of staff for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, “Gorgon Stare will be looking at a whole city, so there will be no way for the adversary to know what we're looking at, and we can see everything.” Nirvana. While the Post dutifully reports a smattering of opposing views, it misses the ramifications of the central idea epitomized by General Poss's confident assertion: namely, how the American ideology of techno war assumes it can negate the human need for fingerspitzengefühl on a battlefield.
General Poss's confidence suggests quite clearly he believes seeing everything enables one to know everything. This a stunning theory of knowledge. It is also a classic example of the American military's unquestioned belief that complex technologies coupled to step-by-step analytical procedures can negate the friction of combat to solve any problem in war. Lifting the fog of war is, in fact, a phrase frequently used in contractor brochures touting the efficacy of these technologies. This reflects theory of knowledge — really an unquestioned ideology — that views war as fundamentally a procedural problem of methodical analytical thinking, as opposed to its messy reality of being in large part an art of synthetic thinking.