The Institute has 30 participants from around the globe, many journalists, academics and a few civil society/NGOs. I’m completely inspired by their work already. We are each one of 1000 selected to share in this experience.
It did not really strike me that I was 1. studying at Oxford and 2. at Oxford until I walked by the Bodelian. I’ve been so engrossed with work (Election Hackathon and Open Internet of Things Assembly) that the shock set in walking down Turl Street. Then after reading the brochure, I realized that Harry Potter and Lawrence of Arabia have deep roots on these grounds. I imagine I will be able to explore at some point.
What if? This is a question that drives me daily. What if people are connected to affect change with technology? I am very honoured to be selected as a Personal Democracy Forum Google Fellow 2012 among a distinguished list of accomplished fellows.
Learning about the struggles to give voice and have free elections around the world, I’ve encountered a few shining lights that we could learn and remix in North America:
Qabila.tv from Egypt has an amazing program of digital literacy accessible videos to teach people about democracy and the principles. It is in common language. The team used these in their community-based organization outreach campaign to reach the youth. In order to succeed in mandates for elections, we need to start thinking better about how to use the power of the Internet for true engagement. And, then take it offline to communities, listen and remix:
At Ushahidi every day I work alongside election monitors, corruption mappers and other civil society activists. I’m on a mission to ask “What If” citizens could give voice to their causes, their passions, their communities. These people are disrupters doing the heavy lifting. I simply have the honour of sharing their stories as Ushahidi is a vehicle for people’s change. And, I have the responsibility to find ways to augment and surface their work globally while supporting it with documentation and training.
Trust of citizens can only be acquired with long programming for safe elections. The Ushahidi Liberia team is a strong example of continuous planning and relationship-building.
Civil society and community-based organizations are core to real engagement. The Harassmap team has a strong offline and online program which could be applied to elections
Why people vote and don’t vote might be analyzed by Sentiment Mapping. Last year, my colleague launched I Vote Because for the Canadian elections, It was a small act to bind people to the “act of voting” and to spring discussion. I look forward to seeing more evolution in this area.
On Saturday, June 16th, I will participate in a Free Election Hackathon with a number of groups. I plan to use my PDF experience to assist people who will be doing election monitoring around the world in the coming year. I can’t wait to hack on ideas, then test them into action.
What do Salmon Fishing and hackathons have to do with each other? I just watched Salmon Fishing in the Yemen tonight. It turns out that the movie had the best quote to represent those who RHOK:
“For Fishermen, the only virtues are patience, tolerance and humility.”
These are special people out to change the world. To RHOK means to spend a whole weekend braining on a prototype, often with new strangers. The essence of a hackathon like RHOK is to take those moments of crazy focus and big dreams, then distill them into high speed agile development. This selfless act of a global hackathon now has the opportunity to keep building with the Geeks Without Bounds and Social Coding 4 Good’s Sustainability programs.
Over the RHOK weekend, I wrote a number of blog posts on Rhokto.ca:
While I think all the participant teams and hacks are winners, special kudos goes to first place RHOK Toronto winner: Mobile Ultrasound in Remote Nepalese Villages
I truly enjoyed watching the participants go through the phases of possibility. We had between 60 – 83 participants at RHOK Toronto. I cannot say enough about the amazing braining by the participants and volunteers. You inspire me. Thanks to all the sponsors for again supporting Toronto’s efforts.
The movie Salmon Fishing in the Yemen has a premise of dreaming big and building a plan to try out crazy ideas. RHOK is that type of testing ground, without the large budgets and sweeping movie stars. Instead, RHOKStars each contribute in small, iterative ways. The crux for organizations is to be sure that the best models continue to be fostered with mentorship and funding.
Why does RHoK matter to the world?
Recently, I had the honour of being featured on the RHOK blog. This excerpt is my own take on how RHOK evolves with participants
RHoK is taste test of tech for social good. If RHoK inspires one person’s view of why their knowledge could affect change in their world and community, then it is successful. It matters because we need to figure out how to connect the right participant action to the real world issues. This is not something that can be perfect overnight. We are inventing the potential as we go. It is worth every single attempt, no matter hard it is.
I like to think of it as the OSI hackathon or RHoK OSI model:
Discover: “I can do this”
Encounter: Connect with people from a wide array of disciplines from technical to design to subject matter experts
Build a common language
Create and collaborate sprint-like to prototype
Join the movement of possibilities to remix and hack this model for local, national and global issues.
Mentor and train others to RHoK the planet
Here’s to more adventures, salmon fishing and hackathons!
Random Hacks of Kindness is here! Around the world people are working on technical solutions for very real global and local issues. This is a chance to flex our technical muscles and focus on how our skills could make a difference. I’m excited that there are now sustainability models in place to take great prototypes and keep working on them.
RHOK is in 24 cities in 14 countries. Here is a quick tour of activities around the world. A summary of what people are working on will appear later in the day on the RHOK site. But, I like to wake up RHOK with a little world tour:
RHOK SouthHampton RHOK Toronto
I’m missing a few city examples, but will try to update once they are live.