Gnomedex 10 day 1, the morning

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Point-form notes? An attempt at completeness or accuracy? Bah! Here's what I've got, typed up using Elements for iPad. There is also live streaming video at Gnomedex.com:

  • 9:15 a.m. - Brian Solis (briansolis.com): You have the right to post whatever you want to Facebook, Twitter, the Web, whatever. But no one has to give a shit. Just because you can tweet doesn't mean it's automatically interesting. Still, social networks are reducing the distances between people, say from six degrees of separation to four. And they're increasing our Dunbar number from about 150 to several times that number, because each niche has its own context for you. You're in control of your idea of celebrity and relevance and how long you're famous for. Audiences have audiences with audiences. You have a public life, and a private life, and a secret life: which one are you putting online? Influence is not popularity. And women are both the majority and the most influential on social networks. Anyone who says they're a social media expert is fucking lying to you.
  • 9:40 a.m. - Trish Millines Dziko (#trishdex): Public schools need some help. While at Microsoft's high-school outreach, discovered that people of colour and low-income people were not getting access to information technology. The brightest students in the U.S. are still near the bottom worldwide in measures of student achievement, especially in math and science, even though they think they're near the top. 48% of people entering college in Washington need remedial classes. Kids in communities where parents and families can make up for public underfunding do much better. You can have a small class with a crappy teacher in front of it. Those with less education are not only more likely to be incarcerated, more likely to be poor, and so on—they're more likely to die. And each high-school dropout costs $200K in public assistance over a working lifetime. You can't create a new society without a proper education. So what works? Raised expectations, leadership at every level (in school, in class, etc.), measurement, etc. Projects include TechStart, TAF Academy, Teach21, and Community Learning Space. Download "A Right Denied" and devour the data. If kids could vote, we would have a better public education system. Unlike in other countries, the U.S. does not honour teachers, doesn't pay them well and doesn't support them, and as a consequence, those who get teaching degrees are in the bottom 25% of SAT scores. Legislators and public servants have absolutely no backbone, and in some cases have no power to have backbone. Brick walls are most often made of flesh.
  • 10:50 a.m. - Charles Brennick (InterConnection.org): Reusing old computers around the world. In South America, 8% of people have home computer access, 1% in Africa. But they still want access to the communication, education, job skills, support, health information, news, and entertainment that computers provide. 14 million PCs discarded every year, and at least half can be reused. InterConnection has a facility in Seattle that refurbishes PCs (wiping or destroying the hard drive for data security), training people in the process and getting them free computers, and recycles ones that can't be reused. Distribution of refurbished machines throughout the world, focused on South America and Africa—and recipients are checked to see that they have power and Internet to make the machines useful. Computer donations can be made by mail (primarily laptops), by U.S. nationwide pickup (mostly corporate or enough to fit on a pallet), local drop-off in Seattle. Starting to get into smartphones too, partnered with Datadyne for software: much more promising in areas with little electricity or connectivity. Contest for an Xbox Kinect: send business leads to xbox@interconnection.org or donate a PC. Older computers like 286 and 486 machines are worth more for recycling because they have more metal in them (gold!).
  • 11:20 a.m. - Austin Heap (@austinheap): Censorship Research Center. Recently helping Iranians access the rest of the world. There are cycles of how information flows around, out of, and into countries with repressive regimes. Text, email, phone cams, YouTube, mainstream media, rebroadcast via pirate radio, and now Twitter. But Twitter isn't going to overthrow a government. The tools don't matter, it's the people that matter. Still, tweets managed to find free flights, contacts at the UN, a big law firm to work pro bono, and even a leaked document showing how Iran's entire filtering system worked—so it's insanely valuable. Haystack is a tool to bypass that filtering, which encrypts data and then obfuscates it to make it looks like Iranians are visiting innocuous websites. But making it available contravened U.S. sanctions against Iran! Unfortunately, the ragtag team that went to Washington, D.C. was naive (and sometimes dumb and inappropriate) when dealing with legislators and regulators. Eventually became the first-ever U.S. organization licensed to export anti-censorship software to Iran, and hopefully soon elsewhere. That happened fast by D.C. standards, but that's still very slow in real-world terms. Iran is 70 million people who are exactly like us: now have made a film for HBO about Neda Agha-Soltan, including 15 hours of interview footage with her family, who were willing to take that risk. Made it available online in various languages and formats (including 3GP for phones), and even illegally broadcast via satellite into Iran—which seems to have prompted a power shutdown in Tehran. Online piracy sites also re-ripped the DVD format for distribution, even though it was already available as a torrent from the legit site. 35% of the Internet is under some form of government restriction, so this is not a problem that's going away or getting better.

1 Comment

Thanks for taking some great notes. Wish I could've been there.

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