The New York Public Library is training computers to recognize building shapes and other information from old city maps, and they need your help! Take a few minutes to help hone the data; no experience or knowledge required! This is a very neat experiment in crowdsourcing data aggregation for use to improve civic society.
Check out this FluNearYou video, which is the result of a phenomenal collaboration by a hospital, a public health association, and a funder. The government should be monitoring and taking action to prevent this national threat, but they’re not doing much of anything right now (or ever?), so it’s lucky that this project is stepping in.
Lucy Berholz shared thoughts on this collaboration on her blog, Philanthropy 2173:
This is essentially crowdsourcing information on behalf of public health. We’re also seeing citizen crowdfund for city services that aren’t available through tax revenue - see this story on security in Oakland. What we need to ensure is that these types of actions work with government and each extends the other. If we get to the point where we are relying on crowds to fund core public services, our democracy will be in even more trouble than it is now. But if we can use the crowd platforms to engage people, to partner with the public sector, to expand and complement civic responsibility than we’ll be that much the better for it.Understanding these forms of crowdfunding and crowdsourcing as political acts - and designing them for maximum public benefit - is a big opportunity.
I know a real rocket scientist.
His name is Russell Sargent and the first spacecraft he worked on, called Cygnus, recently arrived at the international space station. He built the guidance and some of the navigation software for demos 3 through 5, and also helped to design the approach trajectory in the last figure shown here. The mission went very successfully, and now leaves NASA with a cheaper alternative to bring cargo into space. Very cool.
I talked with Russell about his current project: the Dream Chaser, a new commercial mini-space shuttle. He’s building the autopilot during entry and training astronautics how to fly it in the NASA simulator.
Some color for your Wednesday
I’ve recently stumbled on 3 neat links related to color.
For the bookworm: colors in 10 famous books
For the person whose friends frequently point out that their clothes don’t match: a test called How well do you see color?
For the architect or designer or retired Lite-Brite master: Tangeez
Interview with Charles R. Bronfman of The Andrea and Charles Bronfman Philanthropies. We’re doing a project with him through GrantCrant where we’re helping his foundation to achieve transparency about their decision to spend down their endowment by the year 2016. Read more about the series and the first blog post written by Charles.
The Jew, the Jew, and the Gentile
Beautiful chills from this New York City Ballet video posted on September 12 at sunrise. Read more.
Listen to this podcast that I produced with a great team at the Foundation Center. It’s the first of four in our new GrantCraft series:
In this month-long series, we explore the values, motivations, and stories of the up-and-coming generation of philanthropists. This series complements research conducted by 21/64 and the Johnson Center for Philanthropy at Grand Valley State University released earlier this year and our related GrantCraft analysis. Episodes will be released the next three Wednesdays, so check back to the GrantCraft website.
I also wrote a related blog post about how I connect personally with this episode and topic.
Source: SoundCloud / GrantCraft
These kinds of proposals are happening more and more around the country. But to me, all of these ordinances and policies just redistribute homeless persons. They don’t solve the problem of homelessness. You can’t jail people out of homelessness.
Today, only 2.7 billion people are online — a little more than one third of the world. That is growing by less than 9% a year, but that’s slow considering how early we are in the internet’s development. Even though projections show most people will get smartphones in the next decade, most people still won’t have data access because the cost of data remains much more expensive than the price of a smartphone.
Facebook has presented a “rough plan" for bringing access to 5 billion more people. I’m not sure about Facebook’s plan, but I do think connectivity introduces important access to information and growth opportunities to people (among many, many other things). In that sense, and in the same way that good health and healthcare is something that I consider a right (in addition to your standard food, clothing, and shelter), yes, connectivity is a right.
What do you think; is connectivity a right? And how do Facebook’s argument and plan hold up?
Read my guest post from the Communications Network blog. Here’s an excerpt:
Just as wearing animal prints is not right for everyone (and certainly not for me!), not every industry trend fits every organization. Big Data is certainly out there, but foundations would be prudent to think about how to “make it their own” before jumping on the bandwagon. I would argue, however, that going a little outside of your comfort zone, be it with a loud print or a deep dive into an opportunity data set, is good. Data sets like these offer a way to assess and contextualize your current funding priorities, and can even provide a new angle through which you can share your grantees’ impact in local communities. In a time when data and communications are simply inseparable, the potential for surprising and positive results is huge. And, just think of what you’ll learn along the way.
(Un)Related note: anyone want to go into a side business of making kitchy tshirts for the nonprofit sector? I’m feeling good about it.
How many slaves work for you? There are 27 million slaves in the world today. Many of them contribute to the supply chains that end up in the products we use every day. Find out how many slaves work for you, and take action.
This provocative site was shared by a design consultant in a meeting this week. Yes, the design of the site is quite interesting, but the content of the site is what stood out most to me. Spend 10 minutes taking the survey; it’s very illuminating.
According to Carl Lange, these are the only two things you need to do to be successful, which he (very well) defines as taking advantage of personally interesting opportunities. Matt Swanson wrote a follow-up post with the reminder that telling people about what you do can come in the form of writing, of blogging. I absolutely agree that sharing what you do, what you have a passion for, with other people opens doors; I have found this true in my life with my paid job, side gigs, hobbies, friendships, and invitations to happenings I wouldn’t otherwise be privy to. Nobody wants to listen to a boastful, overly self-confident jerk, but people generally respond well to learning of sincere personal successes. Lesson: Don’t be afraid to share your passions.