Tag: CrisisCommons


May the Stream Be With Us: My Virtual SXSW Sessions

Virtual participation for geek, technical or social events helps the sting of not being able to attend in person. While it can’t completely fill the void of shared, human interaction, at least you can potentially watch a stream, catch a liveblog or even find a new person to follow who inspires you.

photo by Tolmie Macrae

South by South West – Interactive starts tomorrow. Every year I make a wish list of sessions that I would either attend or research. Then, I seek out the content and presenters before, during and after the events. It also gives me a chance to support some friends and thought leaders from afar. The list below is an eclectic mix of interests. There are folks from CrisisCommons, Ushahidi, OpenStreetMap, UN Global Pulse, Frontline SMS, Movements.org, NPR (Andy Carvin), Mozilla, P2PU, Toronto friends, and more. I know that I have missed some good people and welcome the tips. Also included are topics that perked my interest or topics that I know friends or family members research.

As you can tell, I would need to be cloned multiple times over to virtually monitor all of these sessions. And, put the rest of my scheduled activities on hold. Most of the sessions have hashtags and might have streaming. Last year I was able to cobble participation together for 10 sessions. I am mainly following #sxswgood for my Technology-for-Social-Good @ SXSW fix.

The Virtual SXSW Schedule (subject to whim and edits)

Austin Time translator – all times in CST Standard time zone: UTC/GMT -6 hours
(Note: DST starts on the weekend. On Sunday, switch to UTC/GMT -5 hours)

What time is it for me?

Friday, March 11, 2011

14:00 Lessons Learned from the Arab Spring Revolutions – Susannah Vila (movements.org)

14:00 Fireside Chat: Tim O’Reilly Interviewed by Jason Calacanis

14:00 Rebooting Iceland: Crowdsourcing Innovation in Uncertain Times

15:30 The Future of WordPress

17:00 The Singularity is HERE (cousin’s research area)

Saturday, March 12, 2011

9:30 Putting the Public Back in Public Media Andy Carvin
9:30 Federating the Social Web

11:00 Agile Self-Development
More details.

11:00 We Are Browncoats: Leveraging Fan Communities for Charity Serenity!

11:00 Seed & Feed: How to Cultivate Self-Organizing Communities (New Work City – for @camaraderie)

11:00 Flattr w/Thingiverse, Readability, Demotix: Rewarding Creators and Crowdfunding

12:30 Time Traveling: Interfaces for Geotemporal Visualization

12:30 Mobile Health in Africa: What Can We Learn?
Josh Nesbitt Frontline SMS #AmHealth

12:30 How Social Media Fueled Unrest in Middle East New York Times

14:00 Keynote Simulcast: Seth Priebatsch Gaming!

15:30 Humans Versus Robots: Who Curates the Real-Time Web?

15:30 The Behavior Change Checklist. Down With Gamefication Aza Raskin

15:30 Real World Moderation: Lessons from 11 Years of Community

15:30 Social Media Data Visualization: Mapping the World’s Conversations

16:00 Sleeping at Internet Cafes: The Next 300 Million Chinese Users

17:00 All These Worlds Are Yours: Visualizing Space Data

17:00 Web Anywhere: Mobile Optimisation With HTML5, CSS3, JavaScript

Sunday, March 13, 2011

9:30 Radical Openness: Growing TED by Giving it Away

9:30 One Codebase, Endless Possibilities: Real HTML5 Hacking

11:00 Hacking the News: Applying Computer Science to Journalism

11:00 The Future of Philanthropy: Social Giving Takes Off
#socialgiving More Details

12:30 Fail Big, Fail Often: How Fear Limits Creativity

12:30 Influencers Will Inherit the Earth. Quick, Market Them! Sloane Berrett

12:30 Urban Technology on the Dark Side

15:30 Nonprofits and Free Agents in A Networked World Beth Kantor

15:30 Paying with Data: How Free Services Aren’t Free (Privacy, NYT, Stanford)

Monday, March 14

9:30 Tweets from September 11 Schuyler Erle

9:30 Method Tweeting for Non Profits (and Other Players) Geoff Livingston

9:30 Machine Learning and Social Media

11:00 SOS – Can Citizen Alerts Be Trusted? Patrick Meier, Chris Blow, Robert Kilpatrick and Karen Flavell

11:00 Worst Website Ever II: Too Stupid to Fail

11:00 The SINGULARITY: Humanity’s Huge Techno Challenge
(My cousin’s research area)

11:00 Naked Dating: Finding Love in 140 Characters or Less Melissa Smich and Jeremy Wright

11:00 Cryptography, Technology, Privacy: Philip Zimmermann, Inventor of PGP

12:30 NPR’s API: Create Once, Publish Everywhere

15:30 Mozilla School of Webcraft @P2PU John Britton

15:30 Voting: The 233-Year-Old Design Problem

16:00 How to Offer Your Content in 100 Languages Featuring June Cohen of TED and Seth Bindernagel of Mozilla

17:00 DIY Diplomacy: Designing Collaborative Gov Noel Dickover

Tuesday, March 15

11:00 Creating a Social Hackathon for the Good – Justice League Style

12:30 Wikileaks: The Website That Changed the World?

12:30 How Governments are Changing Where Big Ideas Happen Ian Kelso, Interactive Ontario

15:00 Next Stage: Bike Hugger’s Built: A Series of Talks by People Who Create

15:30 Interoperable Locations: Matching Your Places with My Places Kate Chapman

15:30 The Wonderful Things in Internet of Things

15:30 Techies Can Save the World, Why Aren’t They?

17:00 Bruce Sterling, closing speaker

17:00 Voices From The HTML5 Trenches: Browser Wars IV Mozilla, Google and more

Brain infusion pending.



Podcamp Toronto 2011

Crisiscamp Toronto shared our story at Podcamp Toronto 2011 on February 26, 2011. Our session: “Crowdsourcing Tech for Social Good and CrisisResponse” had approximately 25 attendees. The talk was recorded and will be posted at a later date. We had some great questions about how to engage volunteers and what are results of RHoK and CrisisCamp. Here is a quick event summary and our slideshare:

Some results of the past 6 months

Toronto digital volunteers participated in CrisisCamp Pakistan and CrisisCamp New Zealand. Some of the contributions were: mapping and situational awareness. CrisisCamps can be for response or preparedness. People work on tasks identified or brainstorm on ways they can contribute. We also participated in two Random Hacks of Kindness event: Sydney, Australia in June 2010 and Toronto, Canada in December 2010. These events are two-day hackathons focused on humanitarian and local solutions. For the RHoK Toronto event, we partnered with Open Data Toronto.

Some of the lessons learned are: the processes need to be set well in advance of an emergency and partnerships built between Crisis Responders and digital volunteers. And, if we identify problem definitions, we can brainstorm and create prototypes which might aim to solve real world issues. Volunteer technology communities collaborate during response. Each brings their special skills. Digital volunteers are modelling in an agile, iterative manner using their skills of research, digital media creation, social media outreach and mapping contribute to a basic framework. Their contribution and feedback is built on by each response effort and each hackathon. We are attempting to identify the best way to train and engage people to volunteer in the most rewarding and effective manner. It is hard work, but each time we improve.

Toronto has about 30 people who volunteer locally and globally. These people are developers, emergency managers, project managers, digital media strategists, technologists, students, experienced employees, open data/open gov users and journalists. We are at the training and project analysis stage. All of these lessons learned will enable us to build programs and relationships locally for preparedness. As well, we aim to collaborate with emergency responders to manage the surge of information online during an emergency and create software/innovation solutions.



Social Media in Canadian Emergencies – CrisisCamp Toronto

The CrisisCamp Toronto team has been working hard to prepare for CrisisCamp Social Media in Canadian Emergencies. This morning I was delighted to receive some great response from the IAEM – Canada mailing list. Our goal is to connect the spirit of Canadian startup innovation, internet savvy and emergency managers.

When: Saturday, February 19, 2011 10am – 5pm Where: University of Toronto, OISE 4th fl

Here is a list of Communication channels to participate during CrisisCamp Toronto.

LiveChat- Social Media in Canadian Emergencies on Saturday, February 19, 2010,
14:00ET, 11:00PT for one hour

We’re hosting a tweetchat (live chat on twitter.com). If you search twitter.com for #CSMEM you can follow all the comments. If you have a twitter account, please use the hashtag #CSMEM and add your province code. (Eg. SK, NFLD). This session will be held in both English and French. We will have translators to help. It is our hope to host these regularly. Our American friends use the #SMEM hashtag.

Twitter hashtags

Follow us on Twitter : @crisiscampTO

Also see: @crisiscamp, @crisiscommons and #SMEM


I saw a demo of Scribblelive at Hacks/Hackers this week. I think it is a great fit for CrisisCamp Toronto’s event. It is all set up and ready to start posting content tomorrow morning. I also downloaded the free Iphone app. If it works for this event, I’ll be recommending it for more events in the future both in Canada and globally.


We will try to stream and record the morning sessions. This will help other folks learn. Again, it will be active around 10:00 ET on Saturday.

Live Videos by Ustream

Schedule for the day

10 – 10:30ET – Introduction
10:30 – 1:00ET Morning session

Education Stream
We will run these three sessions, three times. You can pick which one you want to attend.
1. Emergency Management 101/Emergency Management in Canada
2. GIS/Mapping 101
3. Social Media 101/CrisisMapping 101

Dev and Tool Testing Stream
*Crowdmap/Ushahidi 101- test case and cross-training
*Ushahidi small code features – TBD

Other activities:
*Prep for #CSMEM Twitchat
*Canadian Virtual Volunteer Team planning: help us brainstorm credentials and organization for this idea.

1:00ET Lunch

Afternoon: 1:30 – 4:30pm
2:00-3:00ET – Live chat on Crisis Commons and Social Media in Emergency Management (skype – Heather Leson – Twitter #csmem)

1:30 – 2:00 Brainstorming ideas with Melanie on CrisisCommons Canada activities
3:00 – 5:00 ET

1. Project Demos
CrisisCamp Toronto wants to pick a project to work on. Demo your project idea in 5 minutes, then we will vote
2. Project Planning
We will build out the project requirements and next steps
3.Ongoing work playing with tools will continue in the other rooms.

5pm Event complete.

Join our CrisisCamp TO Mailing list


Snowmap and upcoming Social Media/Crisis Management Events

Mapping and strategies for Social Media in emergencies/crisis in Canada are new concepts. I am working with the CrisisCommons Canada team to bring crowdsourcing home. We have a few events and beta tests on the go. This is the beginning. I believe in the power of Internet communities and an open web making a difference in our country and the world.

Snow in Toronto – Crowdmap.com Beta

CrisisCamp Toronto set up a map to help Toronto folks report about this week’s snowstorm. We decided on Monday night. Melanie Gorka, Brian Chick, David Black and I built out the map, process and created a press release. Using the format of the Crisismappers.net Standby Task Force, we took the best practices and fit them to our team. We reached out the the CrisisCamp Toronto communities and our own networks. In 5 days, we had 42 posts, 620 unique visitors and about 30 re-tweets. Our goals were to test our process and create a Canadian proof-of-concept. We will prepare an After-Action-Report with the full results. The response we received from Ontario, Toronto and Canadian government officials and the media was fantastic. We are working on preparedness strategies with our partners. Stay tuned for more initiatives. Here is our Snowmap:

CrisisCamp Toronto is hosting a Social Media / Emergency Management event on Feb. 19th

We invite Emergency Managers and New Media Technologists to join us and share their skills. This SM/EM (Social Media/Emergency Management) event is to help our community be more prepared and to build partnerships between Canadian emergency management, NGO, project managers, software developers, technical experts and social media folks. This includes GIS/OSM training. There is a second stream of activity to make and test tools.

As well, we are taking project submissions. Each person will present their idea. Then, the group will vote on the project and begin to brainstorm on the next steps. We want to build solutions for Canadian crisis and emergencies.

On a personal note, I am super excited that Sara Farmer of UN Global Pulse and the CrisisMappers team will be joining us. She formerly ran CrisisCamp in London. The CrisisCommons community is a global family. We aim to exchange ideas. It is a great chance to learn from someone who has been working on some amazing projects.

Sign up for the event.

Random Hacks of Kindness – Survey and Canadian plans

All participants of Canada’s first Random Hacks of Kindness event received a survey this week. The RHoK team is gearing up for 2011. Watch this space for announcements. RHoK Global encourages partnerships with universities for upcoming events. We found great success partnering with University of Toronto. And, we can’t wait to share with other cities.


Press Release: Improving Disaster Response and Humanitarian Aid in Times of Crisis

Improving Disaster Response and Humanitarian Aid in Times of Crisis

New project harnesses technology to create new form of digital volunteerism

(Cross-posted from the Crisiscommons.org blog)

We have come a long way together in the last year as a community and a concept, and today the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars was awarded a two year, $1.2 million dollar grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. This grant is to support CrisisCommons as a full-time project for two years working in collaboration with the Wilson Center. This is a exciting step for our community as it provides support to further the opportunity to develope a commons-based approach to crisis management and global development.

As of January 1, 2011, CrisisCommons will continue its work as a project of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. The grant will focus on three main objectives:

  1. To provide community and technology liaison support during and after disasters;
  2. To facilitate a shared approach to research and innovation; and
  3. To establish trust and formalize relationships in the crisis response and volunteer technology communities.

Activities underneath will include providing community and infrastructure support for CrisisCamp and convening of the second and third annual International CrisisCongress. Outcomes aim to include growth and tools for CrisisCamp community and a Technology roadmap as well as a Research and Innovation Agenda. We will be conducting an open call on Saturday, December 18, 2010 at 1:00PM EST. Everyone is welcome to join! Check our Google group for updates!

The grant runs from January 1, 2011 until December 31, 2012, so we’re only a few weeks away from starting. In preparation, if you have any thoughts on what are priorities for CrisisCommons in the next six months, year or two years, please email us with any and all suggestions/thoughts.

More Great News! CrisisCommons Infrastructure To Be Hosted By OSU’s Open Source Lab

In addition to the Sloan grant announcement, CrisisCommons is pleased to also announce a partnership with Oregon State University’s Open Source Lab to provide infrastructure resources for CrisisCamp and CrisisCommons. We are delighted to be able to learn from experts in open source communities and provide scalable and reliable resources for CrisisCamp technology innovation and response efforts.

We are so happy to share with you a note from Deb Bryant at OSL, “The Oregon State University Open Source Lab is proud to host CrisisCommons, along with several other humanitarian free and open source software projects. We are pleased that we are able to strengthen the community as they pursue their mission to help those most in need.”

Many Thanks To Paula and David

We would like to express our deepest thanks to Dr. Paula Olsiewski, our Project Director at the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Her enthusiastic support and championing of our work as well as her generous guidance have been invaluable for both the development of this grant and for the planning grant (again in collaboration with the Wilson Center) from earlier this year.

We are incredibly grateful for our partnership with Dr. David Rejeski, Director of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholar’s Science and Technology Innovation Program who has been our “rock.” He provides guidance as well as bandwidth to be as creative and innovative as we can be. He, along with Paula, have mentored the Commons in considerations.

Gratitude To Each One Of You

We are very grateful for each and every person who came out to CrisisCamp, worked virtually and who continue on the journey with us.

We especially want to thank our workgroup leads, Heather Leson, Deborah Shaddon, Chad Catachio, Melanie Gorka and Jasmin Phau for their commitment to documenting insights and reflections in infrastructure, projects and community. We especially want to thank Chris “Spike” Foote who continues to keep the fires burning on the wiki and servers. There are hundred of people and organizations who volunteered and continue to lead efforts across the world. We are very grateful to you all.

There were six organizations who wrote letters of support of our request to the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation including the World Bank, American Red Cross, John Hopkins University Department of Computer Science, Carnegie Mellon University at Silicon Valley, University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, and Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University. We thank you all for your support.

We are especially grateful to the World Bank. They have supported CrisisCamp and helped foster the development of the concept of CrisisCommons since the very first CrisisCamp in 2009. We are very thankful for their continued support of our efforts, including hosting the First International CrisisCongress this past July. In particular, we are grateful to the many components of the World Bank who have been steadfast in support of CrisisCamp and CrisisCommons, including Latin America and Caribbean Group, the East Asia Pacific Group, Innovation Practice Group and the Global Facility on Disaster Reduction and Recovery.

We want to thank our good friends who have collaborated since day one and believe, like we do, in the power of technology volunteers and open data. We are so grateful for their support, partnership and friendship of Patrick Meier of Ushahidi, Jen Ziemke of CrisisMappers, Mark Prusalis of the Sahana Foundation, Mikel Miron and Kate Chapman from the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team, John Crowley of the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, Dr. Linton Wells from the National Defense University’s STAR-TIDES program, Schuyler Erle and all the great folks at Random Hacks of Kindness with particular hugs to Patrick Svenburg of Microsoft, Jeremy Johnstone of Yahoo! and Prem Ramaswami of Google.

We want to highlight the genius of our research leads Chaira Lucchini Gilera and Geetu Ambwani as well as writing prowess Colin Flood who contributed to research and writing of the First International CrisisCongress After Action Report (to be released in January 2011) which accompanied this proposal. Big twinkles for you guys.

We want to thank Colin MacLay at the Berkman Center and Dr. William Dutton at the Oxford Internet Institute for hosting roundtables which helped us validate our approach of the challenges and potential opportunities of CrisisCommons concept. We also want to thank Tim O’Reilly for having us at FooCamp and Rob Dudgeon for inviting us to participate as an observer at the Golden Guardian Exercise.

We want to share gratitude for Mitchell Baker, Mark Surman, Chelsea Novak and Matt Thompson at the Mozilla Foundation for providing community facilitation support from Allen Gunn of Aspiratech to moderate the First International CrisisCongress. We don’t think we can live without him now!

We also want to thank Craig Newmark and Susan Nesbitt from the craigslist foundation who have coached us and provided unwavering public support for our efforts. A big thanks goes to Andrew Rasiej and the Personal Democracy Forum for his longstanding support and passionate belief in the power of technology volunteers.

Big thanks to Stuart Bowness at SimpleStation for helping us on the Website and for being such as champion of the Commons.

There are so many friends who have helped us along the way. They read drafts of the proposal, provided guidance, entertained millions of questions and emails and were always kind to offer a hand of support.

We are thankful to each and every one of you.

To all those who created CrisisCamps, we would not be here without you! To all our friends within the volunteer technology communities and crisis response organizations, academia and the private sector – we thank you all.

Looking forward to a bright future ahead!

((Twinkles x 1000 + a big phat love bomb))

Heather, Noel and Andrew


RHoK Toronto and Global Wrap-up

Random Hacks of Kindness (RHoK) 2.0 and the Open Data Hackathon Day (ODHD) was held December 4 – 5, 2010 in Toronto, Canada. It was our first Canadian RHoK. Toronto had 52 participants collaborated on eight projects. The RHoK team joined over 1000 participants in 20 cities while the ODHD team had participants in 73 cities.

(RHoK Toronto team. Photo by Cynthia Gould)

About the Toronto event

Team video presentations for the RHoKto/ODHD problem definitions .

We were honoured to have Will Pate (World Bank), Joey deVilla (Microsoft Canada), Adam Thody (Architech Solutions), Stephanie Ashton-Smith (Plan Canada) and Ben Lucier (Tucows Inc.) join us as hackathon judges.

The Winners:

1st: Stolen Bicycle Serial Number Validator (ODHD)
2nd: Tweak the Tweet – User Testing (RHoK)
3rd: Payout to Mobile (RHoK)

MVP for being a leader/mentoring folks: Jon Pipitone

Novelty Prizes:

Good Housekeeping- TtT
Ivor Kenk Prize- Bicycle
Bed Bug Award- Where not to rent
Austerity Award- City Budget
CrowdSourced Award- WeAreHelping
Where’s Waldo- Person FInder
Heat Map Award- Population Centers
Geico Gecko Award- Payout to Mobile

Globalnews.ca joined us and wrote about the event.
Mark Kuznicki: Hacking for Good
Melanie Gorka: RHoKing out in Toronto

More Pictures by Ben Lucier and Cynthia Gould.

The full Toronto project from the RHoK wiki.

RHoK around the World

Here are some of the great highlights from RHoK:

*UN Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon spoke a RHoK NYC and talked about the importance of open source communities collaborating with development groups.
*NPR coverage (with podcast)
*Hack examples from around the world: Aarhus, Denmark (Connectivity Mapper), Berlin (Germany) (Disaster Maps) Lusaka (Zambia) and Jakarta (Indonesia) (Disaster Streaming)
*From the CrisisCommons community blog: Technology volunteers from Crisiscamp Support RHoK events

Our friends with CrisisCamp Paris created a complete RHoK2 social media stream.

Thanks again to all our RHoKto sponsors

Architech Solutions
, Camaraderie, CIRA, Global News, Hackto, Happy Worker, Idee Inc., Jonah Group, Left Button Solutions, MacQuarie Group, Microsoft Canada, Planet Geek, Remarkk, Syncapse, TechSoup Canada, Tucows Inc. , Unspace, and University of Toronto.

Thanks again to the RHoKto core team

Special note of thanks to all the amazing Core team members: Mark Kuznicki, Meghann Millard, Sandi Jones, David Desko, David Black, Brian Chick, Melanie Gorka, Leila Boujnane and Christine Crowley. It was an awesome pleasure to make this happen with each of your amazing talents.



Midlife Crisis

Today I turn 40

On the cusp of 2010, I told a dear friend that I needed a major change. I wanted to find meaningful work that combined my love of politics, history and technology with social good. My cousin Cori was home for the holidays. She was working in Dhaka (Bangladesh) teaching engineering, physics and music. Her journey to share her skills and make the world a better place inspired me to make a leap of some kind. My whole family has always volunteered locally and, sometimes, globally. My Mom and Dad are tireless supporters of their neighbours-always willing to deliver a pot of soup or be amazingly handy. My sister and brother-in-law are both long time volunteers and instill this value raising my nieces and nephew.

Fast forward twelve days to the devastating earthquake in Haiti. Much like others, I watched the TV and twitter streams helplessly. My sister had volunteered in Haiti a few years ago and called me. As a medical professional she wanted to get on a plane to help. I wanted to do more but wasn’t sure how beyond donating money. At 21:30 ET I received a Facebook message from CrisisCamp DC inviting everyone to join a Global Conference call to discuss what technologists and crisis response partners could contribute. I joined the first conference call and everything changed. A similar life-changing path is a shared by many people involved in the various volunteer technology communities who responded. As one friend joked, she takes “map-cations” and I take “hack-cations”. We both spent most of 2010 vacations volunteering our skills for technology in crisis.

Barcelona (Spain)

(Biking in Barcelona, Spain before the awesome Mozilla Drumbeat event.)

Mid-life Crisis

Some people buy a car for their midlife crisis, I found my path.

The CrisisCommons journey has introduced me to the converged world of technologists, emergency planners, crisis communicators, GIS mappers, and countless other skilled professionals answering the call. I’ve had the awesome pleasure to make the acquaintance of new people who share this vision. I’ve been to Washington (DC) (twice), Boston (MA), Sydney (Australia) and Barcelona (Spain) to learn, engage and collaborate. My job has changed too.

Currently, I am on a short-term contract providing research and community-building for CrisisCommons. I don’t know if the contract will equate a full-time job. But, I do know that I am inspired. I also know that I will spend the rest of my life trying to figure out how technology can help during the whole emergency response cycle. Even if it is only as a volunteer, I am a believer. While our collective work might not change the world today, it will in time with perseverance and community efforts. We all have made a good start.

In June 2010, I participated in Random Hacks of Kindness (RHoK) Sydney (Australia) and really wanted to bring the project home. Just this past weekend UN Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon spoke at the RHoK-New York opening gala. Respected world leaders get the power and shift of this movement. Is there anything more wonderful than the Secretary General of the UN giving a call to action citing the open source movement? The very next day I had the pleasure of kicking off Canada’s and Toronto’s first RHoK event. Techs really can make a difference with their keen problem-solving and innovation skills. Happily, I am a bridge to facilitate.

It is the best gift to know oneself and determine your path(s) in life. (Well, besides landing a full-time job doing what I love.) I don’t know what will happen next Tuesday with our CrisisCommons proposal, but I am proud to part of this dream and help build it.



Canadian Red Cross: New/Social Media & Emergencies

The Canadian Red Cross: 2010 Provincial Emergency Management Conference was November 7 – 10, 2010. David Black, Melanie Gorka, Brian Chick and I were honoured to present the CrisisCamp/CrisisCommons story.

Our goal was to also demonstrate how local Red Cross organizations and emergency managers could use our lessons learned and leverage social media in their respective areas. I personally enjoyed the question about how would CrisisCamp respond to an potential earthquake in Sudbury. We would contact the Canadian Red Cross and ask how we could be of service. This is the type of collaboration and partnership that volunteer technical communities and crisis response organizations can have. We just need to continue to build relationships in preparedness.

We were also asked how to get started on Twitter. I recommended that people follow the lead of the Canadian Red Cross. Earlier this year, there was a very minor earthquake in Ontario. Immediately after this, John Saunders (Provincial Director Canadian Red Cross), started using Twitter for communications on preparedness safety tips as well as updates on power or other services. He is a trusted expert on Emergency Management and his tweet content would be verified. I his posts to keep my previous workplace informed.


Karen Snider, Canadian Red Cross, wrote about our talk here: How Can Emergency Responders use 2000 nerds

Our presentation:

Special thanks to John Saunders, Jen Mayville and Karen Snider for inviting us and supporting our efforts. We truly look forward to more collaboration between the Canadian Red Cross and the CrisisCamp Toronto team.


Traveling the Open Web

If learning is about the diverse journeys, then travel metaphors seem appropriate. Mozilla Drumbeat’s Learning, Freedom and the Web brought over 400 people to Barcelona, Spain for a 3-day event. Normally, I save highly personal introspective writing for other spaces. But, there is value in reflection on the greater journey of learning and the open web.

Arc de Triomf, Barcelona Spain

What do Traveling and the Open Web have in Common?

Accessible to Novices
I’m a novice, armchair traveler. In fact, I own every Pico Iyer book and am obsessed with travel shows and movies. But, I am new to feeding my wanderlust. Attending the festival meant that I had to grapple with awkward, disorienting and exasperating moments that come with travel. Love it! While I’ve previously traveled to Australia, Ireland, Dominican Republic (resort) and throughout Canada and the United States, Barcelona offered brand new lessons. First off, I have become so reliant on my smart phone for directions, planning and networking that it was hard to be off-network. Traveling is about happenstance. You can advance plan, but there are still moments when a physical map or guide would help. Just like the Open Web, cities are completely accessible if you seek the opportunity to find a common language and navigate the discomfort of new experiences with a smile.

Back up your Data
A new friend was robbed at night walking in a public square. She lost her passport, money, safety and energy. All the travel guides that tell you to use a money belt and only carry a photocopy of your passport. What they don’t give is a human face of a ruined trip and the pall of fear that settles on the victim and their companions. It was a huge teaching moment and a very real experience in Barcelona. As a dreamer and wanderer, this could easily have been my story. As a geek, I know to plan for privacy, security, phishing attacks and backing up my offline and online data. The Open Web has to grapple with these barriers. But, it our responsibility as early adopters and change agents to teach and to share this knowledge in accessible ways across multiple communication channels, languages and learning styles. And, we need to have alternate/backup plans when things go awry.

Group Travel
We mostly traveled in groups during the event. Fortunately, late nights included new friends walking each other to hotels. Learning can sometimes be more rewarding in groups. It provides the opportunity for laughter and exploration in a safe way while capitalizing on the best knowledge available. With CrisisCommons, we are are focused on crowdsourcing and collaboration. We are traveling in a corner of the Open Web that builds an ever evolving community reliant on collaboration, trust and the best available knowledge.

Torben and Stian

Torben and Stian hanging out in the Badge Lab, Drumbeat

Make New Friends
Traveling to a new place provides an opportunity to make new friends. Drumbeat had a large safety net of old friends and new collaborators; the event was full of brilliant, engaging minds. Often, we found ourselves wandering around the city after connecting at sessions. I met people from Argentina, Brazil, Norway, Germany, UK, Ireland, Italy and Austria. And, of course, attendees from across Canada and the US. While it wasn’t a complete global event, there is an opportunity to grow in that direction. An Open Web cannot be built in a vacuum. This needs to start somewhere. I’m a firm believer that great things have been started as a result of the connections of Open Web and Open Education advocates united at Drumbeat. We made new friends and explored ways to create these spaces.

Getting Lost
My favourite part of traveling is independent wandering. This was somewhat curtailed by the fear of robbery. Fortunately, I found a work-around patch by way of a bicycle tour which afforded me the opportunity to explore with some sense of independence. Not being able to freely walk around at night was the hardest part about this trip for me. Now, I think about travel with the layer of accessibility, safety and fear. Learning this navigation in Barcelona is completely invaluable. It will help me move from a novice traveler someday. Open Web advocates need to find ways to open these very doors of accessibility, fear of change and learning styles. Without doing this, we will be at the same stage next year talking to ourselves rather than stirring it up on a larger scale. We need to get lost and be independent of our common alliance. This will allow us to share rather than tell.

Architecture teaches you
Barcelona is full of beauty with architectural brilliance from Gaudi to Gehry to Meir that can stop your breath. It teaches you perspective, design, spatial awareness and more. It is a moment of discovery to explore new visions of urbanism. The Drumbeat event was full of great moments and ideas that offered similar experiences. The Open Web is full of this opportunity to be jaw-droppingly awesome. But we need to consider the architecture around us. We can compliment and create spaces large and small that allow for imagination and spirit.

Attending Mozilla Drumbeat Festival of Learning, Freedom and the Web was a true honour. Thank you to Mozilla for the great opportunity to be on this journey. Special thanks to Mark Surman, Mitchell Baker, Allen Gunn, Nathaniel James, Matt Thompson, Matt Garcia, Kate Guernsey, Yolanda Hippensteele, Maria Sole, and all the Mozilla crew. More thanks as well to the new friends, innovators, and instigators I encountered.

(I will write a separate post on the content of the Drumbeat event. )


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