Global Community: the road to learning

For the past 3 years, I have focused on building global community via maps, hacks and data. The journey has introduced me to a number of communities plus I’ve been fortunate to lead efforts in a few great spaces.

For the past month, I’ve been head down at Open Knowledge Foundation working on the Open Data Partnership for Development project as well as learning all about Open Knowledge Foundations’ communities and networks. We have the amazing opportunity to activate everything from open data to open government to open science to open glam (galleries, libraries, archives and museums.) Having library training background, I’ve always thought that the Internet opens up large borderless communities, much like the old Mechanics Institutes*. It gives us a chance to connect with fellow leaders and support the unusual suspects who want to use new technologies to disrupt and activate change.

stools aiweiwei
(Stools by Ai WeiWei)

Some might consider it a tall order to involve citizens and technology to activate change. I see it as an art. What if we looked at it differently? Many of us are focusing on building stuff and showing the potential of opening data, creating apps and convening at hackathons/sprints. Others are focused on analyzing our methods. Great! We need to have real-time analysis/research in all our projects. Giving evidence and showing impact is mandatory as we move forward. ABC: Always be communicating/changing. Some folks make a career out of highlighting the faults in the old systems and faults in attempts to use new technology to see the world and the information overload in a new way. Also, great. The truth is: None of us are getting it right, yet. But, we are trying.

Meeting, Making and Showing

In the next month, I am going on a whirlwind of meeting, making and showing. Each of these spaces involve communities of folks trying to use policy, information, maps, hacks, data and more to open up our world. It is a huge privilege to participate and learn. I’ll try to post some ‘Dispatches’ as I have done at previous events:

1. Mozilla Festival – London, UK October 25-27, 2013.
MozFest is a home for me. I’ve attended each of the fests including its predecessor (Drumbeat). Imagine rooms full of brilliance in everything from Open Hardware to Open News to Open Internet. My brain and heart will burst with happiness in seeing old friends and digging into learning while making stuff. There are few events that are this interactive. The Open Knowledge Team will be hosting a few sessions (Building collaboration across the open space and a Data Expedition)

2. Open Government Partnership Summit – London, UK October 29 – November 1, 2013
The OGP summit connects governments and civil society communities to discuss policy and demonstrate the latest actions by country, topic and movement. The Open Data Partnership for Development is focused on helping connect governments and civil society folks. My goal will be to meet others on this journey and see how I can help support their efforts. As well, the Open Knowledge Foundation team will be supporting the Civil Society Day.

3. International Conference of Crisis Mappers – Nairobi, Kenya November 18 – 22, 2013
The Crisis Mappers community is one of the most amazing ones that I’ve encountered. Each of us from business to open source to government and academic want to learn the best ways to use data, mobiles, informatics and maps to aid crisis response. We will meet for a week of training, ignite talks and collaboration/simulation. The opportunity to do this in Kenya is amazing. My heart remains in East Africa. Ushahidi was born there and has inspired so many of us to consider how citizens can and should be involved in the conversation. I’ll be running a full day training session with 4 tracks: Maps, data, mobile and knowledge. There are many community leaders helping out, including my colleague Michael Bauer of the School of Data.

I am really look forward to involving more people in each of these communities.

Here’s to amazing building and making. I am more than certain that the next weeks will shape the coming year and far beyond!

*On Mechanic’s Institutes: I had a membership at the Atwater Mechanic’s Institute in Montreal, Canada. I loved that I could use a library and get training. It is the way forward: we need to train a digital network of new leaders to use the power of technical skills to tell stories and use data/software to activate new ideas/change in their communities.

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One comment

  1. Dear Aurther,

    These are very good efforts that you are doing for the humanitarian cause. Please be sure of my support anywhere any way around the globe.

    I would like to pilot these iternventions in Paksitan with your guidance and support,

    Please contact me through my email or anyways appriopriate for you.

    Looking forward to listen from you.


    Nadeem Yousaf
    Program Coordinator DRR
    Caritas Pakistan
    National Secretariat
    23/3 Race Course Road, Lahore
    Ph: 00 92 42 36315584-5
    Fax: 00 92 42 36368704
    Website: http://www.caritas.org.pk/
    Email: nadeem.yousaf@caritas.org.pk
    Skype: nadeem.development1

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