GLGI Wikimania Blog - Maniacs in Boston
Citizen Journalism Unconference - Day 4
Overall the day was outstanding. We really liked the unconference format where Dan Gilmore, the organizer of the conversation, stated: "it is assumed that the cumulative knowledge of those attending is greater than any small group of speakers I could put in front of the group." So the format was similar to our GLGI monthly meetings where an idea is presented in a short burst of information and then the conversation begins. It worked really well. It was easy to find people that are connected to or know someone connected to someone that is doing things similar to what you are doing.
Some of the connections we made:
- We met Isabel, a delightful woman, who upon hearing what we're doing invited us to another conference on Tuesday arranged by the *the uplift academy. She was hosting a dinner for speakers and attendees that night at her home in Concord and she kindly invited us. She works as a marketing consultant for web start-ups. Her current project is with dabble.com, a really nice personal (and soon to be group) video management site. They also are planning to include embedded basic video editing capabilities.
- We then met Zakiya Alake (and Joe Christo) who was asking how this new technology can be used for helping the underserved in communities, actually, quite near Harvard. We met her and exchanged info and stated that we would try to share our work with UWSEM with her and would want to learn what she is doing. We told her about the early childhood development video blogging project. She said she liked the idea. They have had that as a focus for some time. So understood the priority. She said they were now focusing on "peace keeping"...to try and stop conflicts from leading to violence. she'll be one we need to stay in touch with. It also raises that opportunity to have an unconference with those trying to use this technology to do good in their communities.
- Through a comment by an attendee, Chris, we learned of a person, Sean Coon, who is working in Greensboro, NC (Ayliffe can you believe it!) on using a blog to bring attention to the homeless and interracial issues. His site is The People, Yes. We haven't had more that a minute to check out the site, but it is a very good effort. We want to contact Sean.
- Met Frank Moretti, a professor from Columbia who has done some great work in the underserved areas of NY. It was a quick hall conversation, but Frank is so passionate about the use of this to do good for the world. It was fun to see NY-style excitement about this whole area. By the way he's the guy who asked the "So what?" question of Brewster on Saturday. My kind of guy.
- We also sat next to Michal who is with the sunlight foundation. Trying to bring the information about our government to light...sunlight that is. They are now starting to get information about legislators that in the past has been only is five-hundred page paper documents in some dark office in the capital building, not only on-line, but available in a searchable database. If you want to know if there's any ties between a contractor and any one in congress, just search the database and it will pop up. This is all coming in the next few months...a great piece of civic service.
Peggy is calling me to go eat...more to come later...
... no changes ... no changes ... no changes ... no changes ... no changes ... no changes ... no changes ... no changes ... no changes ... no changes ... no changes ... <a href='http://www.ringtones-dir.net'>free ringtones</a> : download ringtones - [HTTP://www.ringtones-dir.net download ringtones] : [nokia ringtones|http://www.ringtones-dir.net] - [nokia ringtones|HTTP://www.ringtones-dir.net] : http://www.ringtones-dir.net/download/ : [ring tones] : [| ringtones download] : "samsung ringtones" http://www.ringtones-dir.net : free === Morning Sessions === The morning sessions were a real potpourri of ideas. Since we are not journalists or experienced bloggers, some of it was over our heads, but the notes I took follow. If you follow the links to the various people, their sites, and other sites mentioned, you'll get the idea of how these discussions went. The atmosphere was a whirr of keys pounded on computers as folks multi-tasked throughout these presentations. Most of these folks seem incapable of sitting still and listening to presentations without doing something else on their computers. In fact, at the beginning of the sessions, one of the moderators pointed to a URL on the board that we were all supposed to load onto our computers. This led us to a chat room - the people in the room, then, were all engaged in an online chat with each other while the talks were going on- from what I read, they exchanged ideas, links, even dinner plans. It makes my head spin! (Peggy)
Here are some sites that were mentioned as helpful or examples in the area of citizen journalism:
I took notes on the different presenters on the computer for the first time today, and it was an interesting experience. I took down a number of links related to their various topics. If you would like to see any of this material, click on the links below.
Lisa Williams on The Rise of Blogs
Andrew Lih On Ideal Toolset for Citizen Journalists
Steve Garfield on Multimedia tools
The afternoon speakers dealt with, in order, how citizen journalism fills in gaps left by traditional media, how it intersects with the law,and how it can better serve worldwide underserved populations.
- Tom Stites on journalism for everybody
- Ethan Zuckerman discusses how citizen media people can make themselves heard amid all the online noise.
Conference Day 3
The first session was just great. We saw a panel discussion with the topic of implementing a wiki with a company to share information and knowledge and promote collaboration. Click here to view the people and organizations represented.
All of these organizations had private wikis - in-house only - but did have quite a bit to say. One of the questions asked at the beginning was: What's the secret sauce that makes your wiki work? Here are some of the answers:
- it doesn't get in people's way
- we have established common practices
- it promotes community
- it's the simplest thing that could possibly work
- people like the 'first-draft' concept - you can put up unfinished things
- it captures material you won't necessarily do a powerpoint on
- a wiki is best for project communications, not project management
Tom and I skipped part of the afternoon sessions to go on a boat cruise down he Charles River, and got to see Harvard, MIT, Boston University, and probably others from the water. We saw some MIT sailboats out for a sail - how great to go to a school right on a river!!
Conference Day 2
Day 2 - Session 1
Tom and I have concluded that this is probably the best conference we've ever been to, particularly after the sessions today. (OK, I haven't been to one in a couple of decades, but play along with me). We have never been to an event that focused so much on the future - it's very enightening. The first speaker we heard was Yochai Benkler (Professor of Law at Yale Law School) on The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom. (Click here to hear his talk) He was excellent. In a nutshell, he discussed the impact of our movement from an industrial information economy (where we've been for about 150 years) to a networked information economy. The industrial production of information by traditional newspapers and tv companys is very capital intensive and as such requires a large investments to get your voice heard. Today with the price of a cellphone you can begin publishing your voice for the whole world to hear/read. This is causing a major shift in the production of knowledge as Henry Ford cause in the production of an automobile with his idea of the assemply line...breaking the building of a vehicle into small steps. We now have very low cost globally distributed production of information. The cost of joining is is moving rapidly to zero. Commons-based production, he said, represented production without exclusion. To support this free information / free society point of view you can get his book The Wealth of Networks (PDF) for free.
Then we heard from Rishab Ghosh on the value of collaborative efforts. Click here to hear his talk. He used the analogy of a pot of soup: with digital information, everyone can put something into the soup, and can now take all of the soup in return, not just part of it.
One thing we found interesting: this is not a shy group. During the Q&A, many people questioned the points made by these speakers. We had seen this yesterday, too. This conference seems to have a peer-to-peer relationship thing happening, and that's good.
Day 2 - Session 2
Next we heard from Brewster Kahle. I was familiar with his work from my Libaray Science program, and he's one of the reasons we decided to come - I really wanted to hear what he had to say. He's the founder of the Internet Archive, and his goal is to provide univeral access to all knowledge - how's that for a small task? He was very hopeful that all books, all audio, all video, all web can be captured and preserved within the next ten years. This is a generalization, but is essentially true.
There was a great Q&A. One question was "So What?" So what that we have all the information produced by humankind on a digital server that can be accessed by anyone. How do we know this is good? (Our GLGI Cynic Club would have loved this guy.) Isn't it what we do with it more important that having all of it? Brewster was very honest. He just said that for him it's a basic belief that knowledge is good and he has not put more thought into it than that. For me (Tom) this really raises the issue of is our knowledge helpful. After working on sustainability for almost one year, I'm finding that I'm spending much of my time unlearning what I've been taught. So his question had a lot of truth for me.
Day 2 - Lunch
We had two main conversations over lunch. We were looking for a place to sit and Peggy found one with a group over in the lobby corner. It turns out it was top secret. There were three people one from the CIA, one from the State Department and another a former marine intelligence officer who is now trying to work on legistation for where intelligence infprmation will be held in the government. It was a facinating discussion. The person from the CIA, we think Chris...could have been a code name, is implementing a wiki so the CIA can develop intelligence in more of a real time manner from multiple sources. They are just starting on the project, butit has good support. It will require q real cultural change. The person from the State Department, also Chris, was developing a diplomacy wiki for to help preserve the knowledge capital of foriegn service officers who move to new positions every 2 - 3 years. The last guy was very dynamic. He stated that he has committed his life to intelligence and is working day and night to make sure in his lifetime that it is finally gotten right. He view is that we have it all backwards. We should be aligning intelligence with rogue persons not rogue states. He said that 17 of his friends in intelligence had died of suicide...and in their memories he was going to get this right. He gave us a "Light of Knowledge' lapel pin for our working in getting knowledge out to others.
Then we talked to Craig who is working with all the state extension services to get all their information on a wiki. A colleague of his, John, indicated that the people who work at the Michigan State extension service should be a great resource for The Green Commons. It is in their outreach charter for each land grant university that they assist in getting their information out.
Day 2 - Session 3
Peggy went to to a session that covered open source in academia and online communities. The first speaker was Michael Eisen - Open Academic Publishing. He is a Molecular and Cellular Biology professor from UC-Berkeley, and is a big proponent of open aademic publishing. Basically, his point was that right now the academic publishing system is screwed up. We've got scientists giving their research to journals for free, and then charging the scientists money to retrieve them in order to do more research by charging exorbitant fees for journal subscriptions. He feels that scientific literature should be in the public domain.
Next up was a nice talk from Jenny Preece - Online Communities. She is head of Information Studies at U of Maryland, and has spent quite a bit of time researching online communities and their characteristics. She really didn't say anything particularly new or earth-shattering, but she had a lovely English accent, and by this point in the day I was ready for a tech break, and needed to hear those lovely British tones. So it was fun.
Day 2 - Session 4
Peggy wanted everyone to know she went to the Technical Infrastruction sessions and stayed awake...and behaved herself. Here's what she heard.
(Peggy) The reason it's tough to stay awake is not the content of the talks but the fact that the darn room was so hot! Here's a good rule for conference attendance: never go to your last session in a hot room. Deadly. This is also a good time to mention the setup of some of these sessions. You'll see everyone sitting in these conference rooms with laptops open, typing away, and then you'll see me with my little scratch notebook scratching away my little notes. I did feel a bit intimidated, cause some of these computers were really interesting looking, but I soon discovered that many of these geeks were busy going through e-mail and doing online shopping DURING the speeches. Hey, at least I was paying attention to the speakers!
On to the content: This was definitely a session for the geeks, but I thought, what the heck, and stayed. I'm glad I did, because I was introduced to one of the new things out there for wikis: WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) formatting (in Beta stage-not for us yet). The session was: Christoph Sauer - What you see is wiki - Questioning WYSIWYG in the internet age. He is from Germany, and has developed this new way of doing wiki editing that is more user friendly. Stay tuned - this could open up wiki editing to a much broader population.
Also speaking was Chris Luer - Disambiguation: The Key to Information Architecture?. Disambiguation is the process of figuring out how to put enough relevant information into, say, a title of an article, to distinguish it from other titles. It also describes the process of figuring out how to make articles east for people to find. This is a lot more complex than it seems. Chris told us that he feels we will need to pursue naming conventions soon.
Day 2 - End of Day Interview with Josh from Intel
Well we finally hooked up with Josh, who has implemented a wiki for Intel, at the end of the day. He was in the last session with Peggy. The original intent was to get from him a nice podcast of the lessons he learned from implementing a wiki at Intel. This was one of the main questions that our SEMUW Stealth team wanted some answers to. On this note we have a wonderful interview with him that we will post soon (So Suneil please look for it.) But the real interesting thing was the conversation we had on the way to that conversation. Josh is a avid blogger...his title on his Intel business card is "Technology evangelist and geek blogger." Can I get an amen! So he began showing us how he blogs the amazing online software and services he uses and his camera and recorder. We were in "blogger world." It was so great. So we spent 1.5 hours on this before we got to the wiki interview. Individually the software and net services are very nice collectively they take you to a whole new space. Peggy noted that the speed from capturing reality to his having it on his blog and to all his freinds is amazingly fast. (read...we are glacieral.) He had all of his stuff up and out minutes after the session ended. We'll dump some of his info here and come back and clean it up later. We also have audio on this...though it'll need a lot of editting. Here are some of his tips:
1) Use flickr to store and manage all your pictures. Its a free service. It has an amazing set of features. Once you post it can automatically send feeds to your friends, groups you belong to, your blogs, others blogs, the national digital image library that Brewster Kale has started. You can geo tag your pictures so they can be displayed on "flickr" maps that is a picture of the earth and shows where your pictures were taken. How does it do this? Well if you are on a wireless network (in this case Harvard's net, then it uses your IP address to determine the servers physical address in longitude and latitude automatically! These are tags that are put on pictures and you can put as many as you would like.
2) You can put pictures from "flickr" right into a wiki without uploading to the wiki. It's really nice. Very simple.
3) All his video he puts on bliptv which has many of the same features as flickr but for video. He know the guy who created it and thinks he has a great sense of mission for his free service.
3) He found this free software that you can take any number of pictures and "stitch" them together in a panoramic view. It is amazing. Let say you took 11 pictures of the inside of a famous church. Trying to make sure you had all the elements of the church in atleast one photo. You just upload your pictures... click on the ones you want stictched together and them run a program that takes them and makes this wonderful panoramic composite photo. We'll put a link to this soon.
4) We then talked about "mashing". This is how multiple net services are being combined to create new services. He showed us one where a company is taking Google earth and putting camshots, weather stations, and any other geo tagged information on it. I told him that River Raisin Institutue was trying to put pictures of the river on a map of the river and he quickly showed us how to put geo tags on flickr pictures and have them displayed on Google Earth maps. Amazing!
There's more but my head hurts now just writing about it.
Conference Day 1 (08/04/06)
Let's start with the food. We're staying at a Bed and Breakfast, so we didn't arrive hungry the first day. We were greeted with a huge spread, however. We were sorry we couldn't partake, but our stomachs were full. There was also a mid-morning snack buffet, a lunch buffet and a mid-afternoon light snack. All of it was excellent - what a bargain for the small conference fee.
We heard initially from Jimmy Wales, founder of wikipedia. He gave an excellent speech about where he sees this organization, where it's heading and what we can contribute. One thing I remember - he talked about the fact that wikipedia doesn't need to expand its number of entries as much as it needs to work on improving what's already there, especially in the area of biographies (by the way, Tom had another idea this morning - surprise! We should do a wikipedia entry on Fr. Jack. More to come on that later...).
Day 1 - Session 1
Our first speakers dealt with some of the limitations of the Creative Commons license to free societies. The first speaker, Mako Hill, seemed about 22 years old and had an eyebrow piercing. It was funny to see such a young man speaking to an audience that included gray-haired people. Especially in a Harvard Law classroom - quite a switch from what's normally there.
Day 1 - Session 2 Lawrence Lessig
Lawrence Lessig spoke to a packed auditorium, and gave one of his talks using second-by-second changes on the screen. I have showed you this technology before - it was great. He talked mainly about his favorite topic - free culture. What was new to me was his take on the 20th century and the 21st. He distinguished between RO (read only) and RW (read-write) cultures, saying that basically the 20th century was a RO culture - information generally came to us, and not many of us contributed to the body of information. The 21st century will be a RW culture, with a movement to collaborative authorship, such as we see on wikis. I thought that was a good sociological perspective.
- Lawrence Lessig - The Ethics of the Free Culture Movement
At lunch we had some very interesting conversations. The first was with Thomas from Poland who is a Wikipedian administrator. You can hear his story of a situation with the Polish wikipedia in which someone intentionally wrote a biography of a ficticiuos member for the communist party. This page remained in the system for one year, after which the author reported it to the polish press. It was dealt with by the wikipedia community, but it grew in to a national story. The polish wiki has recovered it integrity, however its turned into a national joke to use this person's name in other places. Kind of like Elvis spottings.
Then we met James from Rhode Island he walked from Phode Island to get here....170+ miles. He was a military medic who said he served in Iraq. You can hear his idea of mixing the wiki with the economy to create micro jobs (less than 20 minutes per day.) Totally off the topic , but he began talking about his exerience in Iraq. An amazing observation he had was that of ten terrorists shooting at American soldiers, 1 is Al Qaeda and the other 9 are getting paid to kill Americans by the regional warlords. These people were doing it as their job, because they don't have any other way to earn the money to feed their families.
On a more on topic note, we did meet Josh from Intel he has implemented a wiki in Intel and we'll be interviewing him to get lessons learned for ourselves and the Stealth group in United Way.
Day 1 - Session 3
At the end of the day, we heard a great series of presentations from 3 people using wikis in their work: Jack Herrick from Wikihow, Evan Prodromou from WikiTravel and Chris Bronk who works for the State Department and developed a collaborative tool for employees called Diplopedia. All three were great!! We spoke with Jack Herrick afterwards, exchanged cards and agreed to speak more at length in the future. He lives close to Ayliffe, so perhaps we can take a road trip to San Francisco.
More will come, but we have to get to the sessions this morning...
Exploring Boston (08/03/06 7 AM)
The conference doesn't start until Friday, so yesterday we took a guided tour of Boston with a costumed actor. She told us all about the revolution - let's call it the revolution 'demystified' - and we concluded that things really haven't changed much over the centuries. Governments can be corrupt and self-serving, people in office can be petty, revolutionary changes can be made almost incidentally....sound familiar? Interesting tour.
We also went to a Red Sox game in historic Fenway Park, one of the last of the old-time parks (as Tom tells me). It is a beautiful park, but we had seats that were essentially blocked from viewing the batter 90% of the time because of people streaming in and out in front of us. Peggy also had old-time beer spilled down the back of her shirt....ah, a lovely day at the ball park! The hot dogs were good, though. Sorry to say that the Sox lost, and this crowd really seems to take this personally.
Today we'll be heading off to the first day of the conference. A report will come.
If you have any questions about what we're reporting or what you'd like us to investigate, just put them here.
- Hi Peg & Tom, Hope you're having fun! Have you come across anyone else at Wikimania who has a focus on any environmental issue(s)? Do others you've talked to seem interested in what we're doing? Martha (Mackinac was fun!!)
- Mom & Dad, How many people are there at Wikimania? Maureen
- ans: Hi Maureen, good question. We don't know yet, but we'll find out. Today (Friday) is the first day of the conference, and we'll ask about numbers when we register. We do know that the Citizen Journalism Unconference, which we're attending on Monday, is now full at 100 people.
- Update: OK, we asked and they believe the number is 400 or so. Most of these folks are younger than us.
- Peggy was the old-time beer warm or cold? Tom Bradley
- ans: Hi Tom, and thanks for this very important question! The beer was cold, which I was grateful for, as I have a problem with warm beer on my back while I'm at baseball games (unless it's a fall game)
- Peggy, was the cake at Irving House chocolate? (rhetorical question I'm sure)TB
- ans: Tom,another good question! The cake was actually 2 cakes! One was chocolate and one was blueberry! I would definitely recommend this place if you're ever in Cambridge...
- Tom & Peggy, Have you found "Moo" yet? The Lightening Talk text looks good to me. There is a limit on how much you can get into in 5 minutes. Hopefully a conversation starter though. Let us know how it goes. Helen
- ans: Hi Helen! We're not sure if we have found the Mu (correct spelling!) or not, but we have come across some folks that look like they might be a Mu!
- Are the burgers at Mrs. Somebodys -- near Harvard Square, next to the book store -- really the best? How about the milk shakes? Woody and Charles
- ans: Hi Woody and Charles, and another excellent question! We have not investigated this, but will do so today. Thanks for the lead.
- ans: Mr. Bartley's is across the street to the south of Harvard Yard. If you still eat ground beef it is definitely the way to go. - randyf.f
- Tom & Peggy, has there been any discuss about implementing a form of the wiki concept on other media, such as, PDAs, Hand held computers or cell phones? Don Carter
- ans Yes there has been. A company called Socialtext has developed the miki-wiki? for the PDA. The CTO (Chief Technology Officer) for Mediawiki did state the next think on the development list is embedded video for Mediawiki. Please see the notes on our interview with Josh from Intel. Don, the issue of video (and for that matter pictures) is getting a little more complex. It seems that the current trend is to put you pictures in flickr and "share" them into the wiki; which is possible in the current version...they appear imbedded in the wiki although they are actually stored on flickr. The idea would be to do the same with video. Josh tries several addons to Mediawiki for doing the same for video, but we could not get one to work that night, but that doesn't mean that they can't. So we may not be doing as much through the wiki code as we thought. Hope that made some sense. We can talk more when we return. tom
We Arrive in Boston (08/02/06 4pm)
We arrived at Logan Airport and took the Bus/Subway system over to the Harvard campus. On the way, we went under the "Big Dig" site that was in the news about ceiling tiles falling into the road hitting a car killing the motorist. There are still state police every where near the site. They have lanes closed.
While the subways are very nice and cool as soon as we stepped out of the station in Harvard Square...yikes! Of course, its really hot! 101 degrees.
We're staying at the Irving House a nice B&B just off the campus. We'll have you meet the lovely hosts in a bit (as soon as we get our camera and recorder out. Its a nice simple home. Peggy's already visited the snack room for tea and cake (Tom Bradley ...the cake report is its very yummy!)