Patrick Meier: Zooniverse — The Answer to Big (Crisis) Data?

Cloud, Crowd-Sourcing, Geospatial, Innovation, Knowledge, Science
Patrick Meier
Patrick Meier

Zooniverse — The Answer to Big (Crisis) Data?

Both humanitarian and development organizations are completely unprepared to deal with the rise of “Big Crisis Data” & “Big Development Data.” But many still hope that Big Data is but an illusion. Not so, as I’ve already blogged here, here and here. This explains why I’m on a quest to tame the Big Data Beast. Enter Zooniverse. I’ve been a huge fan of Zooniverse for as long as I can remember, and certainly long before I first mentioned them in this post from two years ago. Zooniverse is a citizen science platform that evolved from GalaxyZoo in 2007. Today, Zooniverse “hosts more than a dozen projects which allow volunteers to participate in scientific research” (1). So, why do I have a major “techie crush” on Zooniverse?

Oh let me count the ways. Zooniverse interfaces are absolutely gorgeous, making them a real pleasure to spend time with; they really understand user-centered design and motivations. The fact that Zooniverse is conversent in multiple disciplines is incredibly attractive. Indeed, the platform has been used to produce rich scientific data across multiple fields such as astronomy, ecology and climate science. Furthermore, this citizen science beauty has a user-base of some 800,000 registered volunteers—with an average of 500 to 1,000 new volunteers joining every day! To place this into context, the Standby Volunteer Task Force (SBTF), a digital humanitarian group has about 1,000 volunteers in total. The open source Zooniverse platform also scales like there’s no tomorrow, enabling hundreds of thousands to participate on a single deployment at any given time. In short, the software supporting these pioneering citizen science projects is well tested and rapidly customizable.

. . . . . . . . . .

One of the most attractive features of many microtasking platforms such as Zooniverse is quality control. Think of slot machines. The only way to win big is by having three matching figures such as the three yellow bells in the picture above (righthand side). Hit the jackpot and the coins will flow. Get two out three matching figures (lefthand side), and some slot machines may toss you a few coins for your efforts. Microtasking uses the same approach. Only if three participants tag the same picture of a galaxy as being a spiral galaxy does that data point count. (Of course, you could decide to change the requirement from 3 volunteers to 5 or even 20 volunteers). This important feature allows micro-tasking initiatives to ensure a high standard of data quality, which may explain why many Zooniverse projects have resulted in major scientific break-throughs over the years.

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Patrick Meier: MatchApp: Next Generation Disaster Response App?

Architecture, Crowd-Sourcing, Geospatial, Governance, Innovation, P2P / Panarchy, Resilience

MatchApp: Next Generation Disaster Response App?

Disaster response apps have multiplied in recent years. I’ve been  reviewing the most promising ones and have found that many cater to  professional responders and organizations. While empowering paid professionals is a must, there has been little focus on empowering the real first responders, i.e., the disaster-affected communities themselves. To this end, there is always a dramatic mismatch in demand for responder services versus supply, which is why crises are brutal audits for humanitarian organizations. Take this Red Cross survey, which found that 74% of people who post a need on social media during a disaster expect a response within an hour. But paid responders cannot be everywhere at the same time during a disaster. The response needs to be decentralized and crowdsourced.

Screen Shot 2013-02-27 at 4.08.03 PM

In contrast to paid responders, the crowd is always there. And most survivals following a disaster are thanks to local volunteers and resources, not external aid or relief. This explains why FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate has called on the public to become a member of the team. Decentralization is probably the only way for emergency response organizations to improve their disaster audits. As many seasoned humanitarian colleagues of mine have noted over the years, the majority of needs that materialize during (and after) a disaster do not require the attention of paid disaster responders with an advanced degree in humanitarian relief and 10 years of experience in Haiti. We are not all affected in the same way when disaster strikes, and those less affected are often very motivated and capable at responding to the basic needs of those around them. After all, the real first responders are—and have always been—the local communities themselves, not the Search and Rescue Team sthat parachutes in 36 hours later.

In other words, local self-organized action is a natural response to disasters. Facilitated by social capital, self-organized action can accelerate both response & recovery. A resilient community is therefore one with ample capacity for self-organization. To be sure, if a neighborhood can rapidly identify local needs and quickly match these with available resources, they’ll rebound more quickly than those areas with less capacity for self-organized action. The process is a bit like building a large jigsaw puzzle, with some pieces standing for needs and others for resources. Unlike an actual jigsaw puzzle, however, there can be hundreds of thousands of pieces and very limited time to put them together correctly.

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Michel Bauwens: 3D Printing Merging Physical and Digital

Innovation, Knowledge, Manufacturing, P2P / Panarchy, Politics
Michel Bauwens
Michel Bauwens

As posted by Jean Lievens to Peer2Politics.

3D printing provides an opportunity to change the way we think about the world around us. [1] It merges the physical and the digital. People on opposite sides of the globe can collaborate on designing an object and print out identical prototypes every step of the way. Instead of purchasing one of a million identical objects built in a faraway factory, users can customize pre-designed objects and print them out at home. Just as computers have allowed us to become makers of movies, writers of articles, and creators of music, 3D printers allow everyone to become creators of things.

What’s the Deal with Copyright and 3D Printing?

January 29, 2013

This whitepaper is also available as a PDF and can be purchased on the Amazon Kindle Store.


Ultimately then, the burden is on the community and the organizations that host the community not to blindly assume that copyright covers everything. This is not to say that copyright should be rejected, or that legal orders should be ignored. Instead, it is a reminder of the value of healthy skepticism. If someone is asserting copyright over an object, take a moment to consider if copyright can even apply in that case. Make assertions of infringement public so that the wider community can understand who is claiming what kinds of rights.

Read full article.

Phi Beta Iota:  Of scholastic quality and densely footnotes, this is a formidable review of copyright, 3D printing, and community culture.

Yoda: Integral Science Is the Force — Joining Intelligence with Integrity

Crowd-Sourcing, Culture, Economics/True Cost, Governance, Innovation, Knowledge, P2P / Panarchy, Resilience, Transparency
Got Crowd? BE the Force!
Got Crowd? BE the Force!

Imagine that the year is 1543 and you have just completed reading Copernicus’ newly published book, On the Revolution of the Heavenly Spheres, that has attempted to convince you that your daily experience of the sun moving around a stationary earth is an illusion. What do you think the chances are that you would have accepted the Copernican argument that violates your direct perceptions?

Thomas Gentry, Nonlinear Dynamicist, 1995

Is Integral Science related to Paul Ray’s work on Cultural Creatives?
Yes, ISI is working toward the same Integral Society identified by Paul Ray (see Cultural Creatives, 2003). We believe Integral Science provides a clearer understanding of why Integral Society is emerging and a more solid foundation for understanding what the Cultural Creatives must do to make it sustainable.

Is Integral Science related to Ken Wilber’s vision of Integralis?

Though there are some overlaps, Integral Science’s empirical foundation leads to some different conclusions from Wilber’s Integral Psychology and Integralis. Both views, for example, integrate spirituality and the evolution of consciousness, Integral Science integrates them into a seamless view of physical reality, using serious work from across disciplines, and taking great care to logically connect the dots from different fields.

Why is Integral Society emerging?
What does Integral Science say about what it will be like? Great changes are driven into being by the failure of the previous system, a breakdown whose root cause is cultural decay and whose main marker is a web of crises popping up in every sphere. Vowing to find a better way, a new cultural thrust then builds itself up around a new noble vision and defining metaphor that it believes will avoid the fiascoes of the old.

Hence, today’s great change, like those of the past, is being propelled by crises felt in every field. Think of education, health care, politics, energy, the economy, community, justice, and the environment. Yet, while these individual calamities grab attention, it is slowly becoming clear that the root problem is cultural decay. Late Modern culture has become a malady and late Modern America epitomizes the result.

Learn more.

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Michel Bauwens: David Bollier on Power-Curve Society — Free Online

Culture, Innovation, Knowledge
Michel Bauwens
Michel Bauwens

POWER-CURVE SOCIETY: The Future of Innovation, Opportunity and Social Equity in the Emerging Networked Economy

Power-Curve Society, written by David Bollier, examines how technological innovation is restructuring productivity and the social and economic impact resulting from these changes. It addresses the growing concern about the technological displacement of jobs, stagnant middle class income, and wealth disparities in an emerging “winner-take-all” economy. It also examines cutting-edge innovations in personal data ecosystems that could potentially unlock a revolutionary wave of individual economic empowerment. Power-Curve Society is the Report of the Twenty-First Annual Roundtable on Information Technology, a dialogue convened by the Communications and Society Program.

Download PDF | Read on Scribd | Order Copies | On Twitter: #powercurve

Read Direct
Read Direct

Foreword, Charles M. Firestone
The Innovation Economy
The New Economy of Personal Information
The Power-Curve Phenomenon and its Social Implications
Jobs in the Power-Curve Nation
The Social Implications of the Power-Curve Economy
Government Policies and Leadership Responsibilities
Roundtable Participants
About the Author
About the Aspen Institute Communications and Society Program

Howard Rheingold: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes – Lessons in Mindfulness and Creativity from the Great Detective

Innovation, Knowledge
Howard Rheingold
Howard Rheingold

How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes: Lessons in Mindfulness and Creativity from the Great Detective


“A man’s brain originally is like a little empty attic, and you have to stock it with such furniture as you choose.”

Amazon Page
Amazon Page

“The habit of mind which leads to a search for relationships between facts,” wrote James Webb Young in his famous 1939 5-step technique for creative problem-solving, “becomes of the highest importance in the production of ideas.”But just how does one acquire those vital cognitive customs? That’s precisely what science writer Maria Konnikova explores inMastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes (UK; public library) — an effort to reverse-engineer Holmes’s methodology into actionable insights that help develop “habits of thought that will allow you to engage mindfully with yourself and your world as a matter of course.”

Phi Beta Iota:  Clarity, Diversity, Integrity.

See Also:

INTELLIGENCE with INTEGRITY: Enabling Hybrid Public Governance with Open-Source Decision-Support


INTELLIGENCE for EARTH: Clarity, Diversity, Integrity, & Sustainability


Rickard Falkvinge: Four More Reasons Open File Sharing is a Virtual Public Library

Access, Culture, Innovation, Knowledge, P2P / Panarchy, Software
Rickard Falkvinge
Rickard Falkvinge

Four More Reasons The Pirate Bay Is Effectively A Public Library – And A Great One

Posted: 13 Dec 2012 06:57 AM PST

Infopolicy:  File sharing fulfills the exact same need and purpose as public libraries did when they first appeared, and is met with the exact same resistance – even in the same words. This article follows the previous observation that The Pirate Bay is the world’s most efficient public library.

Zacqary Adam Green’s piece comparing The Pirate Bay to the New York Public Library the other day was spot on, and we’ve seen it travel a lot around the world – in excess of 3,000 shares and counting. File sharing (and The Pirate Bay) is the most efficient public library ever invented, and its invention is a quantum leap for civilization as such. Imagine every human being having 24/7 access to humanity’s collective knowledge and culture!

Moreover, it’s not even a pipe dream that needs to be funded with forty gazillion eurodollars. All the technology has already been developed, all the infrastructure has already been rolled out, and the tools already distributed. All we have to do to realize this is, frankly, to remove the ban on using it.

In the book The case for copyright reform (download here), we can read the following:

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SchwartzReport: Growing Food in Desert with Solarized Seawater — AND Stabilizes Sea Level

Economics/True Cost, Innovation, Knowledge, Resilience

Growing food in the desert: is this the solution to the world’s food crisis?

Philipp Saumweber is creating a miracle in the barren Australian outback, growing tonnes of fresh food. So why has he fallen out with the pioneering environmentalist who invented the revolutionary system?

Jonathan Margolis

The Observer, Saturday 24 November 2012

Desert blooms: Philipp Saumweber, the founder and CEO of Sundrop, with a tray of his “perfect” produce. Photograph: Jonathan Margolis for the Observer

The scrubby desert outside Port Augusta, three hours from Adelaide, is not the kind of countryside you see in Australian tourist brochures. The backdrop to an area of coal-fired power stations, lead smelting and mining, the coastal landscape is spiked with saltbush that can live on a trickle of brackish seawater seeping up through the arid soil. Poisonous king brown snakes, redback spiders, the odd kangaroo and emu are seen occasionally, flies constantly. When the local landowners who graze a few sheep here get a chance to sell some of this crummy real estate they jump at it, even for bottom dollar, because the only real natural resource in these parts is sunshine.

Continue reading “SchwartzReport: Growing Food in Desert with Solarized Seawater — AND Stabilizes Sea Level”

Rickard Falkvinge: PayRight to Replace CopyRight?

Economics/True Cost, Innovation, Knowledge
Rickard Falkvinge

PayRight: A CopyRight / Patent Reform Proposal to Make Piracy Obsolete

Copyright and patent monopolies can be reformed to be less terrible, but in the long-term they need to be reformed into smithereens with a sledgehammer. Politically, this may be impossible. Practically, doing nothing to encourage creativity and innovation may not even be desirable. Erik Zoltan and I have a new alternative: the Payright System.

The full proposal is available here, but at 35 pages it’s a lengthy read. I’ll do my best to sum it up here.

Erik Zoltan
Erik Zoltan is the mastermind behind the Payright System; I only served as a contributing editor. Zoltan is the Massachusetts Pirate Party‘s co-founder and representative to the US Pirate National Committee. He can also divide by zero, count to infinity, and roundhouse kick Chuck Norris.

Copyright concerns the right to copy. Payright concerns the right to get paid. Under Payright, a creative work or invention can be distributed, modified, reappropriated, and built upon with no restrictions. If you monetize a work, you just have to share a predetermined percentage with the original creator(s).

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Yoda: Digital Communications Revolution

Access, Education, Innovation, Politics
Got Crowd? BE the Force!

Open Internet, Force Is….

Digital Communications Revolution

The importance of a revolution in digital and communications technology has risen in importance since 2011. Interestingly, the most significant proportion of respondents came from Latin America, who particularly emphasised explosions in social media and mobile phones. Respondents from this region had a particularly higher focus on this issue when compared with those from Europe and Asia.

Keeping the digital revolution on track.

A top trend that emerged from the 2012 World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council Survey (which received almost 1,000 responses from the world’s leading thinkers) was the “digital and communications revolution.” But who laid the conditions for this revolution? And how are we going to continue to reap the benefits from this new era?

The answer may surprise you. The people who established the standards and rules allowing 99% of the computer servers worldwide to speak to each other, freely and openly, were not in the US government, Google, or even the UN. Rather, they belonged to civil society – academics and technologists – such as Vint Cerf, Bob Kahn, and Tim Berners-Lee, the participant in the opening ceremony of the London Olympics who few people recognized.

Let’s recap that revolution. Over the past five years, 21% of GDP growth in mature economies came from the open Internet. Growth will spread east and south as broadband connections via mobile in emerging economies smash through developed world’s subscriptions in 2013, as reported in the World Economic ForumGlobal Information Technology Report 2012. If the members of Facebook were part of a single sovereign state, it would be the third-largest country in the world; and its terms of service is looking more like a constitution determining people’s rights than an ignored contract with a service provider.

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Owl: $20 Table Storms the World — Four Million Back Ordered

#OSE Open Source Everything, Hardware, Innovation, Software, Spectrum
Who? Who?

How a $20 tablet from India could blindside PC makers, educate billions and transform computing as we know it

“This is going to be revolutionary for the developing world”

On Sunday Nov. 11, the president of India, Pranab Mukherjee, will have unveiled the seven-inch Aakash 2 tablet computer Tuli’s company is selling to the government for distribution to 100,000 university students and professors. (If things go well, the government plans to order as many as 5.86 million.) In the meantime, Tuli is deluged with calls from reporters, and every day his company receives thousands of new orders for the commercial version of the Aakash 2. Already, he’s facing a backlog of four million unfulfilled pre-orders.

In developing countries, a $20.00 tablet is going have a profound impact:

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Randale Sechrest: Internet and the Crisis in Higher Education

Education, Innovation, Knowledge
Randale Sechrest

I rely on Nicholas Carr to be the fly in the ointment to all things hailed as utopian about the Internet. The critic’s view of the online learning “revolution”.

The Crisis in Higher Education

Online vesion of college courses are attracting hundreds of thousands of students, millions of dollars in funding, and accolades from university administrators.  Is this a fad, or is higher education about to get the overhaul it needs?

Nicholar Carr

MIT Technology Review, 27 September 2012

Phi Beta Iota:  This is a better overview article than those previously posted here.

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Berto Jongman: Free Online Education Revolution

Education, Innovation, Knowledge
Berto Jongman

Do online courses spell the end for the traditional university?

The Observer,

Publishing, music, shopping, journalism – all revolutionised by the internet. Next in line? Education. Now US academics are offering world-class tuition – free – to anyone who can log on, anywhere in the world, is this the end of campus life?

Two years ago, I sat in the back seat of a Toyota Prius in a rooftop car park in California and gripped the door handle as the car roared away from the kerb, headed straight towards the roof’s edge and then at the last second sped around a corner without slowing down. There was no one in the driver’s seat.

It was the prototype of Google’s self-driving car and it felt a bit like being Buck Rogers and catapulted into another century. Later, I listened to Sebastian Thrun, a German-born professor of artificial intelligence at Stanford University, explain how he’d built it, how it had already clocked up 200,000 miles driving around California, and how one day he believed it would mean that there would be no traffic accidents.

A few months later, the New York Times revealed that Thrun was the head of Google’s top-secret experimental laboratory Google X, and was developing, among other things, Google Glasses – augmented reality spectacles. And then, a few months after that, I came across Thrun again.

The self-driving car, the glasses, Google X, his prestigious university position – they’d all gone. He’d resigned his tenure from Stanford, and was working just a day a week at Google. He had a new project. Though he didn’t call it a project. “It’s my mission now,” he said. “This is the future. I’m absolutely convinced of it.”

The future that Thrun believes in, that has excited him more than self-driving cars, or sci-fi-style gadgets, is education. Specifically, massive online education free to all. The music industry, publishing, transportation, retail – they’ve all experienced the great technological disruption. Now, says Thrun, it’s education’s turn.

Read full article.

Reflections: Intelligence for the President Revisited

All Reflections & Story Boards, Economics/True Cost, Education, Innovation, Knowledge, P2P / Panarchy, Politics, Resilience
Robert David STEELE Vivas
Click on Image for Bio Page


I am delighted to find some of my earlier work being looked at with new eyes.

Intelligence for the President–and Everyone Else: How Obama Can Create a Smart Nation and a Prosperous World at Peace (CounterpPunch, Week-End Edition,Feb 29 – Mar 02 2009)

Fixing the White House and National Intelligence  (International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence, 23/2 2010)

Continue reading “Reflections: Intelligence for the President Revisited”