Tag: drumbeat


OpenUN and the Future of Real-Time at SMW

The age of real-time has changed media, humanitarian aid and my life’s path. I am a community manager and communications emergency/incident manager by trade who also volunteers with digital crisis response. Social Media Week has provided great opportunities to attend events in person or participate virtually. Today I am attending OpenUN and digging into how media and crisis response organizations work with open data, real-time data and digital media changes. The way we obtain news and participate in our local and global communities is evolving. It is exciting to have my career and volunteer work merge. And, also to have the chance to learn and engage online.

The United Nations GlobalPulse is participating in Social Media Week with “Open UN: Engagement in the age of Real-Time”. #openUN is livestreaming right now.

PSFK on Future of Real-Time trends

PSFK presented their trend analysis about the future of real-time, including the example app called mappiness:

PSFK presents Future Of Real-Time
View more presentations from PSFK.

PSFK posted, free for download, their UN report on The Future of Real-Time.

Robert Kilpatrick, Director of UN Global Pulse

Robert Kilpatrick presented about UN Global Pulse and how they are working to embrace real-time information for development. He cited the opportunity for the use of citizen reporting and how the UN is researching how to collaborate with digital volunteers and communities of interest. Some of my favourite quotes from his keynote:


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.



Drumbeat Overview – The First Date

Mozilla Drumbeat was a hybrid, chaotic event full of engaging people and ideas. I’m still processing, but in one word “Overwhelming“. The only model I can compare Drumbeat to is “The First Date“: new, so full of potential, contradictions, sometimes awkward, and sometimes magical. Trying to balance actions, participatory learning and some brilliant oration/creation is not an easy task. Add to this a deep sense of trying to model new collaboration syncing two sometimes disparate groups: open education and open web/hackers.


Every idea, every event starts somewhere. With CrisisCommons, I am encountering this same clash and collaboration of cultures: emergency planners and new technologists. The same theme exists: we know we have a great idea, we know we want to collaborate, but the space is undefined and a new frontier. We have the power of the Open Web cracking traditional models and providing incentives to keep trying. No one has the right answer on how this will look and how we could build in our respective areas. This is the beauty of being early adopters and change agents. Whether you are brainstorming around open education or open crisis management, there is opportunity to move beyond silos.

The People:
Meeting SJ Klein, Dale Dougherty, Phillip Schmidt, Mitchell Baker and Cathy Davidson was inspiring. Each of these people provided me with head-spinning thoughts about wiki, makers, P2PU, Mozilla’s future and the future of open education. But, I feel like each person I conversed with was a connection to like minds. Thank you to each of the participants for making this event so engaging. There are just too many people to name, but I would like to give mention to three people and their amazing projects/journeys:

    Michael Nelson created Learning Goals. He has applied for the Shuttleworth Foundation grant. This project could help crack the code for crowdsource learning. I will be watching its evolution.

Highlights for me:

    Arduino xbee bike. It was magic to collaborate with two hackers from Greece and learn about how they worked with Arduino. I especially enjoyed being their test biker. Building stuff is part of opening your mind to new ways to learn.
    Hackbus- the personalities, the books, the towing, and, most of all, the unifying force of all things Drumbeat

Badge lab
I spent most of the first day in the Badge lab. I believe that the brainstorming there can potentially help credentials for Volunteer Technical Communities. At times, I struggled with the focus on individual efforts. However, the models built will allow for group collaboration on badges. Communities will be able to create badges and work within the flexible model. It was truly exciting to have concurrent teams of brainstorming and software development. I’ve offered to be a community contact for any beta testing.

More on the Badge Lab from @sbskmi .

Science Fair
Mozilla Drumbeat invited me to share in the Science Fair on opening night. It was great to introduce people to CrisisCommons and inquire about how they think open education can be used. However, much like Speedgeeking, it is really hard to have an indepth conversation about how to build crowdsource training. I really welcome any input in this area. I will be blogging on this topic as I continue to work on CrisisCamp in a Box.

Science Fair

More Drumbeat posts: Reflections, learning and more:
Sleslie: Free and Learning
ChaCha Sikes: Mozilla Drumbeat Highlights
Aza Raskin on How to Prototype
Matt Jukes on Drumbeat reflections
Dave Humphrey on Open Video

What will I do with my Drumbeat Learning:

*We are seriously considering building a P2PU course for CrisisCamp in a Box.
*Universal Subtitles will be used for all our CrisisCamp in a Box videos.
*I will continue to collaborate on the Badge lab for future iterations. This is really key for our communities.
*Our community is very keen to follow the work from the Open Video lab
*I’ll continue to be in touch with some of the people I met. What an amazing group of folks. I also plan on engaging with people I didn’t get a chance to talk more with. I consider Move Commons top on this list.
*CrisisCommons will be collaborating with a number of the communities that I met at Drumbeat. More on this in the future.

The Drumbeat community is growing. I feel like the people and ideas that started at this event will have a lasting impact globally. I’m still thinking on how to use the connections and ideas to build CrisisCommons and support all the initiatives to create an open web. When I first started reading about the event, I was perplexed why the organizers started with Open Education. But, the more I pondered the concept, the more I became a fan. Education is a uniting force for all our efforts. And, it is the future of how we can promote and change our corners of the net.

Keeping breaking and making stuff. Every Drumbeater inspires me. Follow the #drumbeat hashtag for more thoughts from all the participants.


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. )



Video Lab Dispatch – Drumbeat Festival

The room is full of people working on an open video HTML5 script, transcribing content, tagging photos and collaborating for Drumbeat’s closing night video. Video interviews, photos, tweets and other content are being transcribed, edited, designed and morphed into one master. The script on the projected screen is foreign to me. There are 6 people are writing in html 5 with fast-paced collaboration. Two people are editing and transcribing one set of videos. Three folks are working on graphic design. Everyone is an orchestra of activity with a deadline to tell the story of the Drumbeat Festival- people, events and more.


I’m here because I’ve spent the bulk of the festival brainstorming ideas and this is deep in the heart of Drumbeat tech. Brett Gaylor of Web.made.movies and Ben Moskowitz of the Open Video Alliance are both conducting and participating. It seems wrong to write a blog post instead of doing a meta video to show how the Drumbeat video is being created. Safe to say video would best capture the pulse of activity and the steady stream of conversations: Jquery, popcorn, I could go take a nap, adobe fireworks, do we need translation of this video?, use the firefox beta, the border, no move the font a few pixels, we need to get this done to universal subtitles, plus conversations in English and Spanish.

Can’t wait to see the final version tonight. Go Video Lab!


Open web with the Arduino xBee Bicycle at Drumbeat

Two university students: Vasileios Georgitzikis and Pierros Papadeas, spent yesterday in the Hackerspace Playground and Arduino. Their goal: create an Arduino xbee open web powered bicycle. The night before they worked on their script. Then, they refined it by creating the device and testing speeds without a bike until about 3:30pm.

How it works
What they built was an Arduino wireless transmitter and a hall effect sensor on the wheel of a bicycle.

This calculates speed and then broadcasts this wirelessly. The receiver module connects to a usb.

the receiver

Every bike broadcasts and id and speed. The script reads and visualizes using Html 5.
Pierros testing

The Arduino demo at the hackbus:

hackbus demo

The team:
Pierros and Vasileios

More photos!


Create Joyous Insurgency

Inspiration! Mitchell Baker and Cathy Davidson kicked off today’s Drumbeat activities with their thoughts on the future of the open web and open learning.

Baker said that the future of the web means we need to: see, touch, get your hands on it and pull it apart. Mozilla’s goal is to provide opportunities to create your own world. We need to merge the open source software and education world to change the conversation, build connections and merge
common values.

Cathy Davidson: “I’m among my people. Education does not work, we have to change it.” Kindergarten to University education is broken. It is based on industrial revolution/assembly line models. We need to add peer-to-peer university (P2PU) learning and open education. This means triggering the edge thinking a. instrincically for what you do and b. change what we do. The world has changed. We don’t need this old hierarchical structure.

The call to action was quoted best by Davidson: “Create Joyous Insurgency”.

(Note: Throughout the Drumbeat Festival of Learning, Freedom and the Web, I’ll create some brief posts with quotes and topical highlights. Think of it as headline news.)


Dispatch: Drumbeat Festival – Day 1

Barcelona is the perfect location for the Mozilla Drumbeat Festival. With attendees are from around the world, you get the sense of “otherness” and “innovation” by the city and the Raval location.

Raval is a revived district. The Barcelonian city government situated the MACBA (Museum of Contemporary Art of Barcelona) in this area to drive change. How appropriate! Today I adventured in the city with a 3-hour bike tour of various regions. It started in Raval around 11:30am. The MACBA site was just starting to see an influx of Mozillians, Drumbeaters and, best of all, tents which signify a real festival happening. The bike tour took us to the symbol of Raval: a cat. (sculpture by Fernando Botero)


After the tour, I stopped by the MACBA site again. It was 4:00pm and the registration desk was close to ready. I returned at 5:30pm and the vibe was incredible:

Skateboards, Mozillians, Drumbeaters, a Hackbus in the centre, tents, a registration desk with people milling near.

If only we had set up a timelapse camera in the MACBA square to capture the day’s evolution as the Drumbeat Festival kicked off. Incredible. Exciting. We are all here as the change in the place of change. It is such a convergence of like and unlike minds of many disciplines. The common thread is an open mind and spirit to bounce ideas and energy.

By 8:30pm, the Joi Ito was on stage telling us that “the Internet saved my life.” He captured the spirit of Drumbeat for me. Each of us has a corner of open web and open education. We converge. And, he was right on point for me. The Internet has saved my me and changed my life in immeasurable ways.

The Science Fair was so engaging. What a great opportunity to share ideas about open education with each of our organizations. I was happy to share the CrisisCommons story. Every conversation had my head spinning with ideas and questions. It My only regret is that I was so busy at my table that I was unable to tour and meet the other Fair participants.

Here’s to another amazing day.


Drumbeat Festival: Bicycles, Hackbuses, Robots, & Science Fair

I’ve read the Mozilla Drumbeat Festival of Learning, Freedom and Web schedule more than once and it is still daunting. Mark Surman, Executive Director, Mozilla Foundation, even created a Drumbeat Festival Users Guide for attendees to help.

How to choose sessions, activities or spaces to hang out? I have three days and a flight to Barcelona to finalize my plans. Overwhelmed by awesome the selection. Well, I know I want to participate in badges, open video and open web sessions. These are the ones that will help with my CrisisCommons work and my choose adventure paths. I’m also blogging for the event.

Tents, Robots, MACBA and the Science Fair

Here are some of my schedule picks, but they will change as I navigate and explore. And, the whole schedule is subject to awesome and might be changed by the crowd!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010:
Join me: Sharing the CrisisCommons story at the Science Fair.

Thursday, November 4, 2010:
10:30am Badge Lab:Badges, badges, everywhere
11:30amEducating your Users or the Skills Lab: Learn what you need to hack Open Video (Video Lab)
14:00pm Arduino, Processing and Fantasia
15:00pmBadges, learning and online identity: design jam
16:00pm Arduino, Xbee, Bicycles and the Open Web or Learning accessibility:values and skills
17:00pmCalm after the storm: Yoga for Hacktivists
or the School of Webcraft: use case on Badges

Friday, November 5, 2010:
10:30am Pathways to Open Content
11:30am Encourage Content Reuse: Educate your users!
14:00pm Badges, learning and online identity: wireframes + prototypes
15:00pm Dale Dougherty How Maker Faire works or Build your own Personal Learning Environment Part II
16:00pm The Next Big Thing
17:00pm Build, Make, Learn in the Hackbus and Hackerspace Playground

Saturday, November 6, 2010: OpenRaval classroom, for the community
10:00amBe a GoodWill Reporter
12:00pmCommons Time Traveler

I’m going a bit early to be a tourist. Some of the greatest architects have works in Barcelona: Gehry, Meier, Mies van der Rohe Gaudi, and much more. It is my first time in Spain and I can’t wait to explore and learn at the festival and in the city.


Joy of Learning: it must be Event Season

Where did Autumn go? It is conference, event and learning season. Well, learning should always be important, but it just seems the next two months are going to be chaotic and awesome.

Most of my other spare time is spent writing for the Sloan Foundation deliverables for CrisisCommons. We have a stack of deadlines until the Trustee meeting in December. Every time I share this story it helps refine my contribution to the documentation. It is so exciting to focus on this project.

The events:

October 23, 2010:
Social Technology Conference/Unconference (Toronto, ON)
I’ll be sharing some CrisisCommons and Crowdsourcing stories at the Social Tech Conference/Unconference this weekend. Very excited to talk about open source and humanitarian volunteerism on a global scale. My co-presenter will be CrisisCamp Toronto’s Steve Kalaydjian.

November 1 -7, 2010:
Mozilla Drumbeat Festival of Learning, Freedom and the Web (Barcelona, Spain)

November 10,2010:
Emergency Management Conference, Ontario Red Cross (Niagara on the Lake, ON)
I am honoured to co-present with David Black, Brian Chick and Melanie Gorka about CrisisCommons and how social media and Emergency Management groups can collaborate.

December 4/5, 2010:
Random Hacks of Kindness (the world)
I am partnering with technology companies, hackers and software developers to organize a Random Hacks of Kindness event in Toronto. More on this soon. Toronto has a great hacking community, especially Hackto.ca. If you are reading and want to lend a hand, I’d love the help with sponsors, outreach and more.

Back to writing


© Copyright 2016, All Rights Reserved