Provide links to context, please

In an article published today, the Daily Emerald reveals that Sam Dotters-Katz has proposed changes to the ASUO Constitution (which I would link to but it’s apparently not available online):

Dotters-Katz and Papailiou’s proposal would add two justices to the existing five-member court and require it to submit rules changes to the Senate for approval. It would also re-establish the Elections Board as an independent entity to avoid conflicts of interest that Papailiou said were endemic under previous administrations.

There’s something wrong with this picture. I’m not talking about the proposed changes, rather it’s in the way that the information is presented. Reporting in the “traditional” news brief format, the reader (me) is left more confused than informed. There is almost zero context associated with the article, and I haven’t the faintest idea what the information presented actually means.

Such is the old paradigm. Newspapers are dead; long live newspapers. I’m of the opinion however that the new paradigm, the one that everyone’s afraid of, is actually improving journalism. Go figure.

For instance, if the Daily Emerald had the innovation, talent, and tools, I would have been presented an array of options to expand my knowledge about Dotters-Katz, how the ASUO runs, and why he proposes a change to the Constitution. There would likely be a list of previous posts on this issue, a small topical wiki in the sidebar synthesizing the pulse of ASUO, and curation of student blogosphere reactions to the announcement (like this one and one from the Oregon Commentator), among other forms of information.

Instead, the readers get nothing better than a press release and I have to use Google, coincidentally, to educate myself further. Google is taking the place of the news organization largely because the newspapers are flailing. Get with the times, please, and use the infinitely useful and flexible platform the internet gives you to empower your community with information.

Oh wait, the Daily Emerald runs College Publisher. Make sure your CMS is open source, and then innovate.

Jarvis’ new world order

I still think the internet is a disruptive force. Jarvis agrees:

In this sense, media – music, newspapers, TV, magazines, books – may be lucky to be among the first to undergo this radical restructuring. Communications was also early on because it – like media – appeared close to the internet and Google (though, as I say in the post below, it’s a mistake to see the internet strictly as media or as pipes; it’s something other). Other industries and institutions – advertising, manufacturing, health, education, government… – are next and they, like their predecessors, don’t see what’s coming, especially if they think all they’re undergoing is a crisis. The change is bigger, more fundamental, and more permanent than that.

If you take this for granted, the trick is to now see what opportunities the change presents. At the top of my head right now are micro-credit systems, or supplemental currencies, which quantify knowledge creation/flow and social and environmental capital. There’s no time like the present to invent.

Education needs a reboot too

The internet makes the world a smaller place and a stronger community. For this, I am thankful.

I’ve started an interesting conversation with Max Marmer about higher education, ways in which it is currently unsatisfactory, and what can be done to fix it. Here’s his idea:

Force For the Future is an action oriented youth network that uses the tools of foresight to augment its impact. One of our main goals is to accelerate the impact of young people by connecting them with like-minded peers, and seasoned professionals interested in mentoring the next generation. And aims to provide a tangible, action-oriented form of learning that most high schools, as of yet, do not.

Many young people are struck by an unbridled enthusiasm to “change the world”. The problem is this momentary enthusiasm is rarely converted into any kind of action. Very few actually to get to a stage where they are making a difference. Force For the Future aims to lower the barrier to entry by creating a support network comprised of mentors and organizations.

He argues that there are three primary reasons he’s forwarding the project: too many students love learning and hate school, there is very little correlation between success in school and success in life, and that students need to be more entrepreneurial with their knowledge.

I think he’s preaching to the choir.

The tenets are pretty well established: open, networked, and transparent. Now it’s time to start experimenting. Shane, DJ, and I have an idea for a social tool to enhance networked learning. The goal is to connect knowledge seekers to connect with knowledge holders, and build an economy which measures the capital of knowledge transferred. We should start doing this in small trial runs, and then scale up. Roughly, the tool would use profiles so that the seekers could search out the holders. For instance, if I wanted to learn how to install WordPress, I could search and find a person who held that knowledge. It would allow me to find a time and location to meet with that person. To quantify the knowledge transfer, there would be a karma system to quantify the value of information transfer and allow both parties to exchange capital. Additionally, the tool would allow groups to coalesce for longer periods of project-based, experiential learning like the Sadhana Clean Water Project and ODA’s water project in San Pablo, Peru.

My favorite of all of this thus far? Max mentioned that he keeps his iPod regularly stocked with TEDTalks. Back when I was in high school, dialup at home forced me to download the two regular podcasts I could find, Adam Curry’s Daily Source Code and On The Media, at school. That was less than five years ago. Just think about what type of information transfer devices and bandwidth will allow five years from now. There’s huge potential, and others agree.

In the news: demonstrations in Haiti, climate feedback in the Arctic, and number near starvation skyrockets

News that caught my interest in the past week:

Demonstrations in Haiti – The Freeport News
Hopes of the new US president supporting former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s return to power could lead to increased demonstrations and violence in Haiti.

Your Guide to Alternative Business Models for Newspapers – PBS Mediashift
A roundup of online business models for newspapers. None are strikingly original, however. More so, they just seem like attempts to justify huge news organizations.

Has the Arctic melt passed the point of no return? – The Independent
Study published may indicate the arctic is already experiencing a feedback loop because of climate change.

Evolution of the Web – Worldchanging
Lebkowsky argues that traditional marketing is going to face a serious wakeup call in 2009.

Oil Is Not the Climate Change Culprit – It’s All About Coal – Wired Science
Research is showing that coal is the significant contributor to climate change, and that oil is only a drop in the bucket.

Waking up to a morning without the newspaper – OregonLive
Oregonian decides to stop delivering to houses in the Eugene-Springfield area, and the old readers are disappointed.

Global food crisis needs global treaty, says Britain’s environment chief – The Guardian
“The number of people facing starvation worldwide rose 40 million to 963 million during 2008, mostly as a result of rising food prices.” Wow.

via Publish2

Mobilizing Mobile Records makes It to round two

Amy Sample Ward just alerted me that “Mobilizing Mobile Records in Resource Poor Settings“, a project Isaac and I pitched for the NetSquared/USAID Development 2.0 Challenge, has made it into the top 15

Wow. So sweet. I’m not entirely sure what the next steps are, but this is a huge stride forward for bridging the gap between SMS and OpenMRS and empowering healthcare providers.

Planes, trains, and the Bolt Bus

Just as soon as I finish my oatmeal, I’m off for an epic trek across these United States for the first ever CoPress meetup in Philly. We’ll be talking student newspapers, strategy, the internet, and our favorite type of pie at this time of year. If you’re around town, you’re more than welcome to join us for a fun lunch party on Wednesday.

In the news, ending 12 December 2008

Of interest in the past week:

Haiti’s road to ruin –
Haiti’s environmental woes in a nutshell, and how they’re even more applicable after the hurricane.

Why not writing a story is innovation – Publishing 2.0
Down with rewriting and publishing press releases (and other such nonsense)!

The Newspaper Industry and the Arrival of the Glaciers – Boing Boing
Clay Shirky (aka Man of Foresight and Infinite Wisdom) saw all of this happening in 1995, and argues that the downfall of newspapers arrived at the same rate as glaciers. Really, I think this is a telling example of how we need to develop better long term thinking (and acting) abilities.

Peru aims for zero deforestation – BBC
The Peruvian government is requesting $25 million a year for the next 10 years to combat deforestation in the country. Deforestation in Peru contributes to less than 1% of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide.

How Risky Is India? – BusinessWeek
A piece touching the stability of the business climate in India because of the recent violence in Mumbai. Notes events from the last ten years to support the claim that the country might not be as stable for investment as thought. No mention of the environment or state of natural resources, however.

via Publish2

Mobilizing Mobile Records in Resource Poor Settings

The cool thing about grants is that they will often fund the neat idea you have. The not-so-cool thing is that they generally take a lot of work and luck to be accepted.

My good friend Isaac Holeman and I entered an application on Friday to NetSquared/USAID’s Development 2.0 challenge. They’re looking to give $10,000 dollars to a project using mobile technology (like SMS or phone-based applications) that “[maximize] development impact in areas such as health, banking, education, agricultural trade, or other pressing development issues.” We think we’ve got just the idea.

We’d like to put together a bridge between mobile phones, potentially FrontlineSMS, and OpenMRS, a super neat medical records system that is beginning to gain a lot of traction in Africa because of Paul Farmer’s Partners In Health. Specifically, this would allow community health workers in the field to access and interact with the medical records database. This would, for instance, allow them to instantly query the last time a tuberculosis patient had reported taking their treatment medicine. Isaac and I are also very interested in sorting together an OpenMRS module that would “watch” the data going in and out of the database. If a bit of data passed through tagged with, say, “#emergency”, it would go to whomever the on-call doctor was. This type of functionality, as far as we can tell, doesn’t already exist. We think it would be sweet if it did.

Now, most of this project is in the very preliminary stages. With your help, though, and funding from NetSquared/USAID, we can take it to the next step. Here’s the details:

  • Voting started on Monday and will run until Friday at 5:00 pm Pacific.
  • To vote on our application, you must first register.
  • Once you’ve registered, you then have one (1) ballot with up to five (5) votes. You have to vote at least three (3) times.

Our application is called “Mobilizing Medical Records In Resource Poor Settings“. We would be very much obliged if you took the time to vote for us and, if you do and leave a comment on this blog post, I’ll send you a personal thank you.

Also, if you don’t know who else to vote for, there were a few other projects which caught my eye:

Most importantly, I think these types of projects show that mobile connectivity has tremendous potential to empower positive change. We think our project can do the same for healthcare. Thanks for the support!

Disruption as opportunity

Quoting Clay Shirky (via Boing Boing):

The price of information has not only gone into free fall in the last few years, it is still in free fall now, it will continue to fall long before it hits bottom, and when it does whole categories of currently lucrative businesses will be either transfigured unrecognizably or completely wiped out, and there is nothing anyone can do about it.

What other industries “sell” information by supply and demand? Where else are there going to be opportunities for the innovators to step in?