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Patrick Meier: Changing the world one map at a time (Sept 2011 Wavelength breakout)
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Patrick Meier: Changing the world one map at a time (Sept 2011 Wavelength breakout)

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  • Lets begin our first map on January 12th, 2010, at 4pm, to be exact. We turn on the TV and see this…
  • In the early days of the war, generals tried to direct tactics from headquarters many miles from the front, with messages being carried back and forth by couriers on motorcycles. It was soon realized that more immediate methods of communication were needed.Radio sets of the period were too heavy to carry into battle, and phone lines laid were quickly broken. Runners, flashing lights, and mirrors were often used instead; dogs were also used, though they were only used occasionally as troops tended to adopt them as pets and men would volunteer to go as runners in the dog's place. There were also aircraft (called "contact patrols") that could carry messages between headquarters and forward positions, sometimes dropping their messages without landing.
  • And that’s because the information ecosystem looked something like this in the 1930s. Largely disconnected and broadcast only, ie, one-to-many. Can anyone point out an important node that should be included in this ecosystem? That’s right, the newspaper. But the paper would not have been printed at the speed that the radio broadcast was taking place to help counter fears; unlike today, of course, thanks to online news.
  • In the early days of the war, generals tried to direct tactics from headquarters many miles from the front, with messages being carried back and forth by couriers on motorcycles. It was soon realized that more immediate methods of communication were needed.Radio sets of the period were too heavy to carry into battle, and phone lines laid were quickly broken. Runners, flashing lights, and mirrors were often used instead; dogs were also used, though they were only used occasionally as troops tended to adopt them as pets and men would volunteer to go as runners in the dog's place. There were also aircraft (called "contact patrols") that could carry messages between headquarters and forward positions, sometimes dropping their messages without landing.
  • Lets begin our first map on January 12th, 2010, at 4pm, to be exact. We turn on the TV and see this…
  • I began mapping reports shared by a dozen people tweeting live from Port-au-Prince. I also mapped news reports from CNN and pictures emailed to me from the disaster affected area. I did this using the Ushahidi platform, a free and open source technology for live mapping. Did I have a plan? No. Did I know whether this would help anyone? No. Did I know the following would happen 10 days later?
  • No.
  • That evening, a dozen friends showed up in my living room. I’ve looked at this picture a hundred times but only yesterday did I realize the number of different nationalities represented: American, Iranian, Norwegian, British, French, Czech Republic. They stayed up all night with me, mapping while the snow fell quietly outside.
  • Between them, these volunteers mapped over 3,500 individual reports from hundreds of sources and you can see just how densely populated the map was. Not only that, but the map was being updated every 10-15 minutes with dozens of new dots, this map was truly alive.
  • 5
  • Rise of crowdfeeding
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