Do you work with global information? have you ever wished you could present it in 3D on a world map or globe? Maybe I’m alone.. either way Information Aesthetics identifies a new application by 3DLiveStats that allows the visualisation of any data on a 3D globe. Of course I am thinking of wealth quintiles, infant mortality or other development related data..
an impressive & interactive 3D globe that displays information about the world in the browser, showing user-chosen geographical data attributes, varying from economical, population & financial indicators to degrees of pollution & corruption. the Earth can be rotated & inspected & displays can be changed to see information in the most appropriate form.
Such information can be displayed onto walls, used on websites a poweful advocacy tool indeed!
It seems that podcasting has come of age far sooner than one might imagine… when the British government adopt practice it is common, when the Royal family adopts a practice it is positively Byzantine!
The traditional “Queen’s Christmas Speech” that is the British Queen Elizabeth II of Windsor is available as a podcast from Westminster Digital, along side her 80th Birthday speech, RSS feeds of course available!
Why is this of interest, well I guess its not, except that when new format media become adopted so soon after their release into the broader market (this speech is of course always broadcast by the BBC on Christmas day), it is a sign of either a fad bubble, or that as in the case of mere podcasting, a technology that genuinely meets the needs of a significant market audience…
Feliz Ano Novo, I hereby give the Global Nomad101 official seal of approval on 2007 year of the podcast!
The old maxim “if you can’t measure it then you can’t manage it” is as true today as ever… however increasingly as many people reach information overload one could argue it should read “if you can’t present information you can’t get others to act on it”.
A classic challenge is presented by internet connectivity. We are all aware that many of the Southern countries where we have worked have terrible connectivity how is this linked to the economy, production, trade, education levels, health services?
This map from the Internet Mapping Project Map Gallery shows the major ISPs indicating volume of traffic (colour density) and extent (distance). A variety of maps indicate other internet measures including distance from host, network address, top level domains or ISPs/ cities and many more. Including more detailed maps and raw data!
This second image from Infosthetics March ’06
“is an extremely detailed map of the North American Internet backbone including 134,855 routers. the colors represent who each router is registered to: red is Verizon, blue AT&T, yellow Qwest, green is major backbone players like Level 3 & Sprint Nextel, black is the entire cable industry put together, & gray is everyone else, from small telecommunications companies to large international players who only have a small presence in the U.S. This map demonstrates that although AT&T & Verizon own a lot of Internet pipes, they currently do not dominate the Internet infrastructure (yet).”
I love this third image again lifted from Infosthetics Dec. ’06, whilst it presents IP address space as a map it provides a clear impression of ‘internet face’ dedicated to continents, clearly if this were broken out in more detail, particularly with breakdown for “Asia” it would become ever more useful. See original source xkcd and comments from the artist.
a chart of the IP address space “on a plane”, using fractal mapping which preserves grouping (any string of IPs will translate to a single compact region on the map). each of the 256 numbered blocks represents one 8th subnet (containing all IPs that start with that number).
When preparing my dissertation on the privatisation of telecoms in Brazil in 1999 a communications star “map” clearly illustrated how minimal traffic was making the hops to and from Africa or Latin America. Different presentation tools using different internet usage “measures” consistently confirm this picture. Though we may not be able to lift detailed quantified facts from such maps they clearly provide tools to reflect trends and bias.
Second Life enters the humanitarian and development workers sphere of interest!
“The Stand Up Awareness Campaign” is being supported by the UN on Second Life. The Stand Up For Awareness Campaign is part of the larger Millenium Campaign to remind governments of their commitment to the eight Millenium Development Goals (MDG) that they agreed to in 2000, each of the eight 2015 targets are critical to reduce global poverty. This is a far from Bureaucratic excercise, if we can’t measure we can’t manage… by catalysing development organisations, donor governments and recipient governments the MDG indicators and targets, truly provide measures of success or failure that will have to be explained away if they are not met… keeping up the pressure world-wide is important.
There is also a simulated Darfur refugee camp on Second Life, “Living Like a Refugee” was built to inform and educate … “An awareness and action camp spotlighting today’s genocide” and even patrolled by hooded avatars. Behind this seemlingly ‘geeky’ awareness approach, after all how many people really use Second Life, is a larger possibility of bringing the complexity, intricacies and daily catastrophe of humanitarian disasters to a increasinly well networked and socially aware next generation.
Teens Second Life is an interesting development by Linden Labs, visited by BBC’s Digital Planet, yes you guessed it Second Life for teens, governed by community rules, no parents or adults allowed, only screened adults from Linden Labs. Special institutions such as schools can feature on the game but are restricted to the island they create where the teens can choose to visit.
Clearly only the privileged (bandwidth, computers, high quality of life) are using Second Life, currently it acts as an interesting advocacy medium for the humanitarian and development world. But perhaps we should be more creative… why not a self concious training medium for students around the world, an advocacy platform. At the very least it offers an interesting way to capture the interest of youth and techie’s to increasingly support real life humanitarian needs, if only by applying their technology interests and genius to global advocacy and bridging communication gaps with the elite in southern countries.
Global news is really taking off, much to my surprise we now have a second non-anglo centric view of the world… within one month, France 24 (en anglias) rumoured to be a reactive idea by President Jacque Chirac following the Anglo intervention in Iraq, was launched on 6th December!
To quote President Chirac, France “must be at the forefront of the global battle of images, that’s why I am resolved that our country should have an international news channel” BBC
Published in French, English and Arabic it will hopefully prove to be yet another voice, view and analysis of world events, along with Al Jazeera, BBC and CNN. Available across Europe, Middle East, Africa and North America some of us are unfortunately unable to view the channel. Early suggestions implied that France 24 would operate its broadcast News channel over the internet. Sadly this is not yet the case, the online version appears to be focused on enabling access to broadcast content, but of course does not yet have the back up of a comprehensive depth of audio, video and text data. The unofficial weblog appears to be a great location for information and comment.
Lets hope the unconventional site structure is a hint of things to come… the tag cloud, journalists blogs… just imagine a conventional broadcaster establishing a News wiki including audio and video. It is already far ahead of Al Jazeera which hasn’t organised downloads yet! It may not be so far fetched after all France 24 would gain from developing a radically different media model. As a rarity the government appointed Chariman is a self made communications and advertising man, Alain de Poulzilhac , no énarque here … “Vive la France Libre”.
Perhaps I shouldn’t get too carried away, a ‘new media’ approach by staid old broadcasting, not yet. Also the énarque appear to have generally lost their shine as Chirac hands the batton to Nicholas Sarkozy. However I am an optimist, Richard Porter of the BBC reports Iran’s interest in an English 24 hour News channel called The Press.
Just perhaps France 24 will bring a fresh approach together with its competition for our valuable time and attention? If not maybe we can look to the Iranians or one of the Anglo channels to take the next step and bring participatory new media, encompassing the views of millions, to us where, when and as we want it, whether by cell, broadband, cable or satellite… “plus ca change!”
Escaping into a reality you never were aware of! … ok, so that is over the top, however I must confess I have become a podcast addict since leaving Afghanistan recently and rediscovering the delights of broadband, (sorry again guys!), all downloadable from i-Tunes at no cost.
1. History 5: European Civilisation from the Renaisance to the present. University of Berkley.
… Top marks to University of Berkley posting many of its lectures at last count 59 Audio podcasts and through the web site many as Video casts. The quality is very dependent on the lectururer however Professor Thomas Laqueur brings it to life, openness about his German Jewish roots adds to the value, full marks for a fascinating, insightful and entertaining account. This series illustrates what is missing or rather could be achieved with high resolution enhanced podcasts!
… sadly not for the Windows majority out there. Apple is renowned for having a broad supportive community of users and amazingly useful add on apps and widgets, I was surprised to find it really exists and they are incredibly helpful! NLMA presents enhanced podcasts on free or very cheap apps that are not only extremely useful but are a pleasure to use and often fun! Screencastsonline provides high quality full screen video tutorials on how to use Apple software with extra content available on subscription. But windows folk should not despair, with the advent of VISTA (replacing Windows XP) Microsoft has adopted a far more sophisticated front end and not a few Apple approaches so it should become a pleasure to use, your widgets are called Gadgets :-).
3. BBC Newsnight (video podcast feed)
… this was a tough call, but they just squeezed in! with excellent content on a variety of topics (sure a UK bias) not available on BBC World, recently they started releasing short format news casts more regularly, with a weekly show as usual… short and focused… like home from home. Of course the BBC seem to publish as many audio (ripped from radio) podcasts as they can, I find most of it uninteresting, but I imagine they are working on the longtail principle.
In truth podcasts are not that popular with surveys implying that pick up is not increasing dramatically. However niche markets such as humanitarian and development users such as MSF and Christian Aid are seeing sharp increases in usage because they have specialist application.
Of course I have access to broadband in Brazil… no doubt a trusty developer could easily configure content delivery software and package it with an i-Tunes like content aggregator to ensure that broadband doesn’t continue to be the bugbear it is for the populace of less developed countries and their frustrated humanitarian techies.
Aiming to be the channel of reference for Middle East events, Al Jazeera also has broadcast centres Kuala Lumpur, London and Washington.
For the first time this creates a genuinely different view to the US and UK ‘Anglo’ centric opinions on world developments, clearly an event to celebrate. Why is it that this slipped out unnoticed and celebrated? Or maybe this should be no surprise, perhaps conventional channels, cable companies, satellite providers have shun Al Jazeera for political reasons?. The BBC covered it like any other story but with no fanfare, but it does recommend the Al Jezeera English channel as an in depth news source, often it was cast as an unremarkable and bias start. Of course Al Jazeera is not popular with leaders across the Middle East, but despite that Israel plans to have it up and running soon, and Friends of al Jazeera blog gives some interesting perspectives. However I have never been big on conspiracy theory, surely the delay is simply teething troubles while channel agreements are put in place.
Since I am in Brazil and unable to see the channel, I assumed Al Jazeera would be pushing its content online, sadly the only option for viewing (that functioned) included a 99cent charge to watch! no video podcast available yet. I did find a clip of the english channel from a staff blog don’tbomb from Dec 2005. Lets hope Al Jazeera organises all of its channels to market sharpish so they can become another informed opinion and voice available globally!
One would imagine that Obituaries are a morbid topic, after all it is all about looking back at someones life, after the event. However well written obituaries provide an interesting insight into the lives and challenges others faced before us, a historical record, indeed it is a shame that humanitarian and development workers don’t have an obituary ‘site’ imagine the wealth of experience and lessons it could capture!
Of course one typically only hears about the lives of fascinating and often influential people, as ever however it is the intricate stories of unsung heroes and mundane lives that I find particularly interesting.
Igor Sergeyev a military commander who rose to First Marshall of the Russian Armed Forces and Minister of Defence was sacked after the disastrous failed Kursk rescue attempt. As a General by simply being attentive, honest, responsible and focused on his job he is probably the one individual that cajoled, negotiated and badgered away to ensure that nuclear material from the huge arsenal of Russia’s long range nuclear weaponry did not go awry and leak into the underworld. Other recent obituaries by the economist include: Markus Wolf a former East German Symaster, a Jew, his Stasi team routinely outwitted its bumbling West German rivals. Bulent Ecevit a Turkish prime minister and poet who ordered Turkish troops into Cyprus and enjoyed a fondness for Hindu mysticism and Sanskrit verse. And Eric Newby a travel writer and fashion buyer who would travel on little but in the best possible taste. Like many of his generation served in the war and in his case was interned in Italian camps.
To get a cross section of American lives the New York Times provides a diverse cross-section, for example David Cockrun a comic book artist who re-invented the X-men and the Marvel Comic with other characters in the mid 70’s and before that worked on Superman, Batman and Flash. Or Rhodes W.Fairbridge who died at 92 in time to see his passion become mainstream. A pioneer on Climate Change in the early 1960s, he developed the Fairbridge curve, a record of changes in sea levels over the last 10,000 years. His graph showed periodic dips and spikes in levels, against a larger trend of rising ocean waters. Among other indicators it is considered to be early evidence of a larger trend in global climate change resulting in the melting of glaciers and continental ice sheets. In plotting his curve, Dr. Fairbridge looked at high-water marks recorded in fossilized dunes and reefs and later made more eclectic observations of climate fluctuation.
For a different view on a society check their obituaries, sadly they may be hard to find in your own language, when checking Arabic papers for this blog, I was unable to find any obituaries in English. This is sad since a chronicle of the past is an insight into the present and future
And you mustn’t forget those bloggers, The blog of Death is a rather unusual place to start, the TaxProf Blog and Jacks Blog are more typical. GoogObits will help you find list of obituaries and of course wikiobit a database of obituaries for everyone by everyone, and new media approaches are emerging Obit Earth encourages use of Google Earth to mark the place of significant events in a deceased persons life, and raises the intriguing possibilities of marking maps with pictures and other data! YouTube has many video obituaries.
After a lifetime of balancing family life, with emotional crises, illness, heartache, joy, pleasure and of course work. Perhaps there is a small measure of comfort in knowing that in some way we are having an impact on the lives of others like so many before and so many to come. But perhaps, just perhaps everyone of us leaves our mark on the world by simply getting on with our lives. Some may put this article down to old age, perhaps, perhaps it is due to experience in in-secure environments, rather I would propose that we should use reflection and celebration of others lives as an opportunity to learn and advocate the humanitarian and development work we are all involved in.
Email the bane of our lives and of course an efficient time saver! Why is it that few people follow basic approaches of other forms of communication medium…
. Memo’s… in the good old days, a simple principle was one decision or subject one memo. Keep it focused!
. Memo‘s listing actions to be taking, assigning roles to individuals and responsibilities, copied to those who need to be informed.
. Letters… carefully addressed, polite clear and above all concise, perfect for formal communication.
. Telephone calls for regular contact, urgent issues and well, to keep in personal touch with people.
Here are the simple rules I live by…
. One subject, issue or decision per email.
. Clearly assign responsibilities to named individuals.
. Send to individuals who have to take action.
. Only copy to those who must be informed.
. Never use BCC, it can only cause problems.
. Never copy to individuals for no CLEAR purpose.
. When snowed under… phone for an update and… delete.
. Never expect reply within 24 hours, preferably 72 hours!
Some tips that I like from others:
1. If it takes 2 minutes to read – delete
2. If its not a response to ones own e-mail – delete (anonymous friend) he gleefully explained that others would phone if it were urgent!
Of course others have gone into this in depth detailed descriptions of how to write emails and use smileys, forget tips to University students , there is even Yale library netiquette, and Down under netiquette!. Of course career planners emphasise appropriate behaviour, but at the end of the day who has ever read, trained on or listened to advice on how to email?
I guess its just down to good old fashioned common! yep, the sad fact is that one could be spending hours reading and deleting pointless mails for a long time to come. Perhaps one should seek out an email extension that automatically deletes messages that will take more than two minutes to read, with a response explaining why it was binned… at least it’ll never include the boss, she is way too busy to send long mails!
All Posts in the Inbox Zero Series
. 43F Series: “Inbox Zero”
. Inbox Zero: Articles of faith
. Inbox Zero: Five sneaky email cheats
. Inbox Zero: Where filters will and won’t help
. Inbox Zero: Delete, delete, delete (or, “Fail faster”)
. Inbox Zero: Schedule email dashes
. Inbox Zero: What’s the action here?
. Inbox Zero: Processing to zero
. Inbox Zero: What have you learned?
. Inbox Zero: Better Practices for staying (near) zero