NOTE: This is a full archive for the Project Community: You & The World (2013) please see the main site for the most up to date information.

All Posts Published at: cogdogblog

Outside Innovation: Crowd-Sourcing Safety in War Zones

Outside Innovation: Crowd-Sourcing Safety in War Zones:

In this article Patty Seybold shares two apps developed to address safety needs in war zones.

Developed by people experiencing war zone conditions in Beirut, ma2too3a (Android) crowd sources observations into a mobile app

This application allows you to know where tire burning, protests, or armed combat is happening at any time! It even shows you a traffic jam as it happens! Any user can update all others instantly about such an event, including the exact time and location.

Whenever an event is put to an end, a red rose will appear :)

Way to Safety allows “users to record gunfire and send it to the site, which will identify the weapon from a sound database and triangulate recordings to pinpoint the exact location and type of fighting.”

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Posted in Community, Faculty
This post was originally published at the Project Community blog: CogDogging It (Alan Levine ProjComm 2013)

Think Web

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cc licensed ( BY NC ND ) flickr photo by Tim Norris: http://flickr.com/photos/tim_norris/2495859684/


I clicked my first web hyperlink in October 1993.

It profoundly changed my career, my work, my interests, and my way of thinking. And it was that power of connection between different nodes of information that excited me, that I could decide how to create paths within content I created, and other sorts. I git inspired to try and help other people do it through a tutorial I made called Writing HTML. (The language of the web is HyperText Markup Language).

I cannot help but link.

This is not to brag nor to show you how old I am (but you can do some math). At some point I imagined my dreams were in HTML.

These days most people do not interact with this layer of the web… we compose web pages in tools like blog platforms or social media sites that handle the technical side for us. But it is there all the time— just look for the View Source option in your web browser. it may appear as gibberish to you.

But I am not writing this to urge everyone learn this language. It can help you. There are larger issues that people are in encouraging a level of web literacy which means a conceptual understanding of how the web works.

Back when I started we had to say “World Wide Web” and even then people had no idea what it was. We can shorten it today to be just “the Web” and many people at least have the experience of it to know what you are referring to.

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cc licensed ( BY NC SA ) flickr photo by Josh Lewis: http://flickr.com/photos/joshlewis/2161626058/

The thing I have trouble understanding is when you work with people— who navigate the web regularly, following hyperlinks, seeing media in web pages— when they sit down to write web content, they have lost that frame of reference.

To me it matters less that people know how to code the web, but that they more understand how to think like the web when they create content— two elements that are important to me are writing hypertext and embedding media in your web writing. And your web thinking.

It’s not a web without links. When you write, you should think what would help a reader. If you mention an organization, you should link to it. When you reference a paper, or someone else’s work or idea, you should link to it. If you use an acronym or a special term outside of common language, you should…. repeat after me, link to it.

How much linking? That is a judgement call, too many link might be distracting. You do not have to link every possible thing. But, IMHO,  if you are writing on the web without hyperlinks, you are not doing your part to make the web a better place for other people.

And the linking should be on the words in a sentence that make sense. If you just make the hypertext link on a URL, it really does not flow with the act of reading, nor does it give any contextual indication of the content you are linking to. 

The virtue of linking is to give credit to the work of others, an act of being a part of a networked culture is giving credit. The link is the best way to do it. Some web content platforms will actually get a “ping” (an electronic notice, when you link to their work. That makes them curious to look at the source of that link.

Bingo! A connection comes back to you.

The other attribute of the web people do not always think about are using embedded media. You may notice I almost always use a photo in my writing, often as a metaphor if not for being a specific example.

I also aim to use content that people have shared with an understanding that it can be used by others if you give credit for the source, or under the licenses of Creative Commons.

If I share a photo under creative commons, it still means it is my intellectual property, but I grant use to other people if they provide credit to me, via attribution, a photo credit text or a hyperlink back to the original (as I have done in the photos above, which are not mine).

Why do this? I get a lot of use out of other people’s photos, so for me, it is a return of the favor. I rely heavily on the creative commons collection of photos on flickr — the way flickr works is that other sites can build tools that work with the flickr library of media (millions? billions? of photos). The site I use to search is called compfight - just make sure o check the box to search for creative commons licensed content, and skip the stock photos above the line (this is how the site makes money)

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Search for images is a bit more nuanced that searching for content in Google. If you want to learn more about my approach, I have some workshop materials at Upping Your Image Quotient

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Because I use flickr so much, and I wanted to have an easy way to generate the creative commons attribution (the captions below the first two images), I built a free browser tool that actually adds a cut and paste attribution string to every creative commons licensed photo page— see the flickr cc attribution helper.

For other kinds of media, videos from YouTube or vimeo, audio from sites such as , even a message on twitter, you can embed them directly into your web site. If you are trying to raise interest in your project, don;t you want people to stay on your site? Do not just send them away with a “click here to see this video on youtube” why not keep them right in your context and content?

I might want to say how I had never realized the impact of all the bottled water in the stores or that get handed out at events. This video changed my thinking.

Learn how to embed media into your web content - it is less of the idea of “keeping” people on your site, but being better able to contextualize the content in the video.

This is a bit of a long ramble, but I would hope the students new to blogging in Project Community start practicing “thinking like the web”. It is like becoming more proficient at anything- music, sports, knitting socks- you get better at doing it by doing it more often, but also being more reflective and thoughtful of what you are doing.

It not get to the case I have where I see HTML in rocks, but you ought to aim to think different about writing for the web than other kinds of writing.

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cc licensed ( BY SA ) flickr photo by Alan Levine: http://flickr.com/photos/cogdog/9713013729/

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Posted in Community, Faculty
This post was originally published at the Project Community blog: CogDogging It (Alan Levine ProjComm 2013)

Twitter vs Zombies: Join in a live web/twitter based story activity

It may sound strange, but running from September 13-15 is a live web/twitter based story activity that could help ProjComm students learn more about connections, networking, and working/playing in real time.

You will get to be part of a fictional outbreak of zombie attacks, and try to develop survival strategies… in Twitter vs Zombies v3:

Welcome to the third round of Twitter Vs. Zombies. Part flash-mob. Part Hunger-Games. Part Twitter-pocalypse. Part digital feeding frenzy. Part micro-MOOC. Part giant game of Twitter tag. This iteration of the game was built to serve, in part, as a networked icebreaker for the participants of Open Online Experience 2013 — but the game is open to anyone on the Internet.
Twitter vs. Zombies, or #TvsZ, is a game played on Twitter designed to demonstrate virtual community and teach new media literacy. For the three days of the game, you will have a built-in community on Twitter ready to answer your questions and construct a narrative with you. The game is made by all of our contributions, small and large.

Learn more, and get a sense of the experience in the trailer video…

And learn some of the strategies for survival

It may sound strange, but this offers an interesting experiential activity to see how informal networks work (or don’t).

And there is no risk of danger, it is all in your mind.

Learn more and signup at http://twittervszombies3.wordpress.com/

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Posted in Community, Faculty
This post was originally published at the Project Community blog: CogDogging It (Alan Levine ProjComm 2013)

“That was bowling”… Who do you think taught Pete Townsend…



"That was bowling"… Who do you think taught Pete Townsend those moves?

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Posted in Community, Faculty
This post was originally published at the Project Community blog: CogDogging It (Alan Levine ProjComm 2013)

Alas, On the Other Side of the Country

Here I sit in my little home in the little town of Strawberry, wishing I could be with friends and colleagues in St Breton for stlhe2013 (this is the code word here, that is the frequency Kenneth…)

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Syndicate on, that’s how we roll.

Posted in Community, Faculty
This post was originally published at the Project Community blog: CogDog

Can the Net Help Find the Family That Lost This Camera?

Can the Net Help Find the Family That Lost This Camera?:

is this your camera?

You and your family were traveling into Toronto on August 13, 2012, taking a trip into the city on the Go train.

Oh no! You left the camera behind on the train. On it are just under 300 photos, chronicling a trip from Europe to Chicago, then a road trip in a rented camper through Cleveland, and on up to Niagara Falls then to east of Toronto.

My friends found the camera, a black Casio EXILM, sitting on the train. They disagreed whether it was better to turn it into lost and found or to put the forces of the internet to work to see if they could find the people to whom the camera belonged. Having lost a few myself, I know the worst part is losing the memories of a trip.

I decided to take on the challenge, and created this web site as a hub for my efforts. I will post some of the photos here, and hope that through the web its tentacles of social media that we can find you, and return your camera and photos.

If you are the family this belongs to, you can contact me (Alan Levine) via my contact form. If you can send me a photo so I know it is you, and a postal address, I will mail you your camera home. They key to identifying this is to let me know the kind of animal is on the beach in the first few photos.

More information and selected found photos at http://wefoundyourcamera.wordpress.com/

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Posted in Community, Faculty
This post was originally published at the Project Community blog: CogDogging It (Alan Levine ProjComm 2013)

Code for America Apps and Projects

Code for America Apps and Projects:

An interesting collection of civic focused technology projects developed by young innovators in the USA.

Code for America helps governments work better for everyone with the people and the power of the web. Through our Fellowship,Accelerator, and Brigade, we’re building a network of cities, citizens, community groups, and startups, all equally committed to reimagining government for the 21st century.

Posted in Community, Faculty
This post was originally published at the Project Community blog: CogDogging It (Alan Levine ProjComm 2013)

I’m fortunate to be visiting the Vermont mountain home (enclave)…



I’m fortunate to be visiting the Vermont mountain home (enclave) of Bryan Alexander author of what I call the bible for this class, The New Digital Storytelling.

Besides taking walks in the woods, building rock walls, watching sci fi and The Wire with his family, talking bout the demise of education… we sat down last night for a small bit of free form talk about storytelling for ds106radio.

Mostly I was anxious to have Bryan share his ideas on how people can elevate the use of audio beyond being a recording (as we did) to be more of a story.

Posted in Community, Faculty
This post was originally published at the Project Community blog: CogDogging It (Alan Levine ProjComm 2013)

The new media landscape (2): the importance of community

The new media landscape (2): the importance of community:

Photojournalist and documentary maker David Campbell discusses the differences between just massive numbers of people in a community versus ones that cultivate “true fans”

The idea that it is the power users, the most loyal consumers, that are the basis of an economic strategy to fund creative content is common to the music industry, where such people are known as fans. #

Posted in Community, Faculty
This post was originally published at the Project Community blog: CogDogging It (Alan Levine ProjComm 2013)

Betweenness Centrality – helping us understand our networks

Betweenness Centrality - helping us understand our networks:

Sheila Macneill attempts to describe a concept of social network analysis via a conversation in twitter that ends with a zombie metaphor:

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Posted in Community, Faculty
This post was originally published at the Project Community blog: CogDogging It (Alan Levine ProjComm 2013)