Finding the needle in a haystack

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I always knew that I loved open-source collaboration, but I didn’t truly understand why until I saw this video:

It’s a fairly long one, but watch it when you have a moment.  I promise it will turn some wheels in your head, and there’s a shout-out to Coney Island’s Mermaid Parade.

I will not attempt to explain things as lucidly as Clay Shirky does, but the bottom line is that the advent of open-source collaboration and social networks is truly revolutionary.  It is deconstructing institutions in a way where we are able to create better outputs, while being more labor-inclusive and operating at a fraction of the cost.

Of course, it can veer out of control and amateur-ize everything in sight; witness Twitter and blogging.  But also witness the cost: virtually zero.  Given the enormous potential upsides, that seems pretty profound to me.

Posted on February 9th 2010 in ideas

Making maps saves lives

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Google’s Lalitesh Katrigadda speaks on the importance of maps in disaster response and general economic development:

The shocker in this piece is that, as of 2005, only 15% of the world is mapped to the level of detail that many of us who fancy turn-by-turn directions and snickering at burning houses on Google Street View have become accustomed to.

The Google Mapmaker tool gives users satellite images and allows anyone to become a cartographer, mapping the streets of their communities to be viewed by planners, policymakers, emergency responders, and everyday street users.

Disaster relief is of particular importance.  As news of the 7.0 earthquake in Haiti spreads, we should consider the capacity for emergency responders to reach people in need.  While natural disasters are tragically random and unpredictable, efficient emergency response has the potential to drastically mitigate their casualties.

We’ve been laying roads on this planet for a pretty long time; we should at least have documentation of what they look like.

Posted on January 13th 2010 in news
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