Location Based Services are to People as Sheep Dogs are to Herding

Back after a recent laptop crash and insurance replacement with accompaning stress of problems with installing backup to  iMac – bad experience for a otherwise perfect Mac – lots of time for trying to browse my mail on my iPhone ( not good fro updating blogs)  and lots of time for guitar practice -but anyway…two weeks later …. So this article on how we are shaping ourselves via allowing our instruments to tell us where to go, from URBAN TIMES by 

We’re experiencing a culture where people carry around powerful computing devices on a standard basis, typically in the guise of a mobile device. These objects make it seem normal to share everything from the song we just liked on Spotify and the restaurant we’re visiting for dinner to updates that we’re on vacation away from our homes. This mobile technology is reconfiguring our social and urban spaces, creating a geotagged city space, and redefining our meaning of location-based services. More specifically, we not only use location-based services to update our friends of our whereabouts, but also to decide where we should visit based on the opinions of people we care about. In this way, we are transforming location-based services into a type of “social norm” we count on for reinforcing our behaviors and decisions. Thus, we end up herding ourselves by relying onlocation-based services to tell us where to go.

Photo Credit: teamstickergiant/flickr

Once connected, we become addicted to informing our community about almost every facet of our lives and depend on this online community for advice. If you’re not part of the map, you don’t exist. With the persistence of platforms including, but not limited to, TwitterInstagram and the influx of new technologies, the geotagging trend doesn’t appear to be going away anytime in the near future. The amount of enabling technologies and trends that provide more opportunities for us to update behaviors online continues to grow.

(Personal photograph from SantaCon 2011 in Central Park, New York)

One way in which people leverage location-based services is to coordinate social movement. For example, cities across the United States partake in SantaCon, a gathering of thousands of people dressed up like Santa Clause who convene in one meeting place. The first meeting place is announced the morning of the event and from there, the thousands of Santa Clauses travel to various pre-determined locations throughout the city. Participants must rely on social media updates and location based services to learn about the next organized meeting location. In this way, location-based services are quite literally herding people in packs.

As seen with SantaCon, companies and brands are experimenting with these types of tools that influence behavior. B2C businesses must find the right balance leveraging the tools to increase consumer engagement and enhance loyalty. Mobile communication increasingly raises the bar in terms of influential significance, and in this instance, location-based services enrich the meaning of a physical location. Locations are now made meaningful through the ability to connect with others and share information. Store openings, art gallery exhibits, product launches, restaurants and so much more can gain from the ‘herding’ result produced by location-based services. In a nutshell, people continue to move together in groups, and our advanced technologies and capabilities are not changing our very basic human nature, but only enhancing it.

Photo credit: efactormedia/ flickr

Livehoods – Use-Based Urban Analytics

More user based mapping – cryptic details of how its done but interesting maps see end of article for references to more information in the future from CREATIVE APPLICATIONS NETWORK via Scoop.it UrbanLife

Livehoods, New York City, Livehood #1 – stats view

In conceptualizing and exploring the city we rely a range of smaller areas—neighbourhoods, boroughs, wards and districts—in order to make urban space intelligible. While we can readily discuss how neighbourhoods are shaped by physical geography (topography, adjacency to lakes or rivers, etc.), ordinance (zoning, access to public transit) and economics (real estate prices, average resident income), machine learning does not really spring to mind when we are considering how we might define ‘a neighbourhood’. Livehoods is a new project hatched within the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University that leverages 18 million Foursquare check-ins to draft up new urban ‘activity zones’ based on the patterns of frequent visitors. The venture essentially asks how does a location-based service reflect our sense of place within the city?

Livehoods, New York City, Livehood #44 – Related livehoods

Livehoods DiagramThe central hypothesis of the project is that the character of an urban area is defined “not just by the the types of places found there, but also by the people who make the area part of their daily routine” and to this end, the researchers have prototyped social maps of New York City, San Francisco and Pittsburgh. Drawing on the analysis of check-in data, these maps propose new spatial clusters, ‘livehoods’ as a means for representing the use-patterns of various regions of the city. This aggregation and analysis yields funky polygonal zones whose geometry is tied to social practice rather than an orthogonal street grid or municipal incorporation. On focusing the map interface one of these social constellations, a user can scan popular venues, dial up an analytics view of daily and weekly ‘pulse’ of activity and also access a bar graph comparing the types of venues people are frequenting. The most interesting option within the interface is the ‘related’ view, whereby the majority of the map content disappears leaving the selected livehood and the top five livehoods that the same user base frequents – these are often adjacent, but sometimes across town.

Thus far the developers have not revealed too much about their methodology but they’ll be presenting a paper, ”The Livehoods Project: Utilizing Social Media to Understand the Dynamics of a City” at The 6th International AAAI Conference on Weblogs and Social Media in Dublin this June. Hopefully we’ll see maps rolled out for more cities soon.

Livehoods.org |  School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University

Livehoods, San FranciscoLivehoods – Pittsburgh

Related Posts with Thumbnails 

The Role of Brand in the Nonprofit Sector

Our image of ourself and how we communicate our ideas i.e. sell our ourselves is intimately connected with our “brand” even if we hate the idea – thats what people see – so getting it right for yourself or for your non-profit is essential if you wish to communicate with others, but much as the language used by marketers for people, consumers, is an anathema to urbanists, they use the same types of research into peoles behavior, culture and soiciety, so this article uses the concepts that are so well developed in the commercial world to situate  ‘brand image’ in language that is digestible to the rest of us and develope a toolkit for its use. From the Stanford Social Innovation Review by Nathalie Kylander & Christopher Stone

Nonprofit brands are visible everywhere. Amnesty International, Habitat for Humanity, and World Wildlife Fund are some of the most widely recognized brands in the world, more trusted by the public than the best-known for-profit brands.1 Large nonprofits, such as the American Cancer Society and the American Red Cross, have detailed policies to manage the use of their names and logos, and even small nonprofits frequently experiment with putting their names on coffee cups, pens, and T-shirts.

Branding in the nonprofit sector appears to be at an inflection point in its development. Although many nonprofits continue to take a narrow approach to brand management, using it as a tool for fundraising, a growing number are moving beyond that approach to explore the wider, strategic roles that brands can play: driving broad, long-term social goals, while strengthening internal identity, cohesion, and capacity.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, for example, recently appointed Tom Scott as director of global brand and innovation. Oxfam International embarked on a confederation-wide “global identity project.” And GBCHealth was one of several organizations completing a rebranding process. Brand managers in these pioneering organizations were focusing less on revenue generation and more on social impact and organizational cohesion. Indeed, some of the most interesting brand strategies are being developed in endowed, private foundations with no fundraising targets at all.

“We’re catalysts,” says Scott. “Could we have greater impact if we leveraged our brand in different ways? What difference could it make to attach our logo to things to move conversations forward or elevate certain issues? Can we use our brand to elevate other brands?” The questions Scott asks aren’t about raising money. Instead, they are about how to leverage the Gates Foundation brand in the cause of greater public discourse and social impact.

Although the ambitions of nonprofit brand managers are growing, the strategic frameworks and management tools available to them have not kept up. The models and terminology used in the nonprofit sector to understand brand remain those imported from the for-profit sector to boost name recognition and raise revenue.

Nonprofit leaders need new models that allow their brands to contribute to sustaining their social impact, serving their mission, and staying true to their organization’s values and culture. In this article, we describe a conceptual framework designed to help nonprofit organizations do just that. We call this framework the Nonprofit Brand IDEA (in which “IDEA” stands for brand integrity, brand democracy, brand ethics, and brand affinity).

The framework is the result of an 18-month research project we led with colleagues at Harvard University’s Hauser Center for Nonprofit Organizations and collaborators at the Rockefeller Foundation. Building on previous work in the field, we conducted structured interviews with 73 nonprofit executives, communication directors, consultants, and donors in 41 organizations. Then we analyzed these interviews to learn how leaders in the field are thinking about nonprofit brands today and how they see the role of brands evolving.

How the developing world is using cellphone technology to change lives

From the Toronto Star by Tim Alamenciak an update on cell phone technology’s impact on the developing world

In Nigeria, a young girl can ask questions about sex discretely through SMS and get accurate information.

After the earthquake in Haiti, survivors in remote towns could receive money for food straight to their cellphone.

In Senegal, election monitors sent updates on polling stations through their mobile phones, revising an online map in real time with details about late openings or worse.

Projects like Learning about Living in Nigeria, MercyCorps in Haiti and Senevote2012 in Senegal are just a few examples of how the rapid spread of mobile technology has changed life in the global south.

Many places are jumping straight from paper records to mobile information because they are getting cellphone towers before Internet connections or even traditional phone lines. This means that for the first time it’s possible for a doctor in Guatemala City to monitor a newborn baby in a rural part of the country.

“People who never had access to information can get to a telecentre or a computer at their church or they have a mobile phone even if they share that mobile phone with their whole family and everyone just has their own SIM card,” said Revi Sterling, director of Information and Communication Technologies and Development (ICTD) graduate studies at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

“If that’s your data collection tool instead of papers that get blown away and eaten by goats, that’s valuable,” said Sterling.

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Web-Based Participatory Research

A listing of some of the resources and researching live information gathering for urban dynamics from [polis] Kind of like crowd-soucing without the crowd?

The Internet is being used in exciting ways toward participatory research on cities. Beyond facilitating collaboration between academics, it is widely expanding the range of participants. Approaches include decentralized fieldwork, interactive microstudies and map-based data feeds. They are developing so quickly that the best way to understand them is, most likely, to participate.

Training youth mappers in Nairobi’s Mukuru settlement. Source: Map Kibera

Decentralized fieldwork includes as many people as possible, filling in data that contributes to sound policy, design, technology and other potential improvements to the quality of life in cities. Participants play an active role in expanding the research base, often taking responsibility for quadrants near their homes. These studies are similar to collective knowledge bases like Wikipedia or Wikimapia, but they address specific research questions. They are continuously updated and freely accessible online. Related initiatives include Community-Based Participatory Research (not necessarilyweb-based, but an important precursor to these ideas), Open Humanities PressMap Kibera and Sparrow Hills Ecocenter youth phenological studies.

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Reporters all – Bulletins for the future

A recent article from The Economist.com showing how even the major media are shaking over the impact of the internet and grappling with how to deal with it – as some are closing their doors ever more tightly about what can be shared over digital media and what is their own exclusive territory – others are opening their doors to all and sundry – I venture that within this year a much larger shakeout will see many stalwart media icons disappearing – sadly for me as I am still a hard-copy junky and lover of lush big image printed eye-candy. Here is commentary that these same media are taking back by relying or at least using the net as their source – used to be CNN’s correspondent on the street – now its more likely to be you or me! What this does to our cities remains to be seen, and how in our parts (i.e. the developing world)  newspapers are growing – I wonder how much of that growth is of tabloids with the morals of  the recently defunct “News of the World”?

The internet has turned the news industry upside down, making it more participatory, social, diverse and partisan—as it used to be before the arrival of the mass media, says Tom Standage

For consumers, the internet has made the news a far more participatory and social experience. Non-journalists are acting as sources for a growing number of news organisations, either by volunteering information directly or by posting comments, pictures or video that can be picked up and republished. Journalists initially saw this as a threat but are coming to appreciate its benefits, though not without much heart-searching. Some organisations have enlisted volunteers to gather or sift data, creating new kinds of “crowdsourced” journalism. Readers can also share stories with their friends, and the most popular stories cause a flood of traffic as recommendations ripple across social networks. Referrals from social networks are now the fastest-growing source of traffic for many news websites. Readers are being woven into the increasingly complex news ecosystem as sources, participants and distributors. “They don’t just consume news, they share it, develop it, add to it—it’s a very dynamic relationship with news,” says Arianna Huffington, co-founder of the Huffington Post, a news website in the vanguard of integrating news with social media.

As well as making Twitter, Facebook and Google part of the news ecosystem, the internet has also made possible entirely new kinds of specialist news organisations. It has allowed WikiLeaks, for example, to accept documents anonymously and publish them to a global audience, while floating in cyberspace above national jurisdictions, operated by a small, nomadic team. Other newcomers include a host of not-for-profit news organisations that rely on philanthropic funding and specialise in particular kinds of journalism. Many of these new outfits collaborate with traditional news organisations, taking advantage of their broad reach and trusted, established brands.

All these new inhabitants of the news ecosystem have brought an unprecedented breadth and diversity of news and opinion to the business. This has cast new light on a long-running debate about the politics of journalism: when there are so many sources, does political objectivity become less important?

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Secrecy vs democracy — the petition is exploding!

An attempt to use social media resistance to activate grass roots democracy in South Africa

Our petition is exploding! Over 21,000 signers in 24 hours! Let’s get to 50,000 and stop the bill. Send this on to everyone

Dear Friends across South Africa,

Right now a Parliamentary Committee is steamrolling through an unconstitutional secrecy bill that would undermine the very pillars of democracy — freedom of expression, free media and accountable government. But growing public pressure is pushing back and MPs are hesitating. Let’s build a nationwide petition of opposition and stop the bill. Sign now!

Sign the petition!

Right now a Parliamentary Committee is steamrolling through an unconstitutional secrecy bill that could take South Africa back to the dark days of impunity — allowing government institutions to operate without public scrutiny, and stopping the media from exposing corruption, and abuse of power.

But public pressure is pushing back! Last week, after hundreds of media outlets and civic organisations had submitted amendments to Parliament, COSATU, Fedusa and the former Minister for Intelligence Services, Ronnie Kasrils condemned the bill, and on Friday ruling party MPs were forced to prolong the Parliamentary debate. But security sector interests are at stake, and to ensure this current bill is stopped will require an avalanche of public opposition.

The bill would undermine the Constitution and destroy key pillars of a vibrant democracy — free media, open government and an informed public. Let’s tell the political leadership that the people of South Africa vehemently oppose this Bill. Sign now, then forward this to everyone — when it reaches 50,000 signers it will be delivered to Parliament, the Executive and key international allies:


Right now ruling party MPs are forcing the Committee to vote clause by clause on a secrecy bill that entirely counters the African and emerging economies movement towards more open government. The Bill would empower officials in nearly every state body to classify any document as secret on the basis of a vague definition of ‘national security’. Poor communities could be denied requests of information about service delivery, and if abused, a local clinic, municipal office or national ministry could use the bill to cover up corruption or misuse of public resources. The Bill would also lock up anyone who possess or publishes anything that is classified for a minimum of 15 years, even if that information is clearly in the public interest, deterring investigative journalists, and whistle-blowers from exposing official crime and corruption.

The Protection of Information Act of 1982 needs to be replaced, but there is a formula that would not flout citizens’ constitutional rights and protect secrets. A democratic and strong law would: have an independent panel appointed by Parliament to determine what secrets had a bearing on national security; only apply to institutions in the security sector; endorse public scrutiny of the intelligence agencies; and would ensure that legitimate whistleblowers that disclose secrets in the public interest are always protected..

Last year we worked with citizens and organizations across the country to raise the alarm and together we halted the bill’s progress. And last week a surge of public criticism pushed ruling party MPs to take their foot off the accelerator. People power works! Basic freedoms and democratic rights are on the line and we have no time to lose. Let’s build a monumental movement to oppose this regressive bill. Sign the urgent petition and forward this message to everyone:


South Africa’s Constitution is held up around the world as a model foundation for democracy. Let’s stand together now to protect it, and oppose those who are attempting to throw a shroud of secrecy over government and use this bill to protect power and privilege.

With hope,

Alice, Sam, Benjamin, Pascal and the rest of the Avaaz team


Call for info bill overhaul:

Cosatu vows to challenge a railroaded Info Bill in court:

Kasrils warns ANC on steamrolling secrecy bill:

S.Africa secrecy laws could freeze out investors and media:

ANC calls for delay on info bill:

Protection of Information Bill:

For more information from the Right2Know campaign to stop the Protection of Information Bill:

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To contact Avaaz, , write to us at www.avaaz.org/en/contact or call us at +1-888-922-8229 (US).

Analysis: Al Jazeera marries TV and social media in The Stream

Get heard now – is social media set to reach big time-  for real?:  via The Daily Maverick

Al Jazeera’s English channel is to boldly (very boldly) tread where other news networks have so far only tiptoed, with a television show known as The Stream. It promises to incorporate social media in a way no other network has done before. Or rather, other networks have sort of tried and have been dreadful at it. What will Al Jazeera do differently? By SIPHO HLONGWANE.

Al Jazeera English (AJE) launched the web component of The Stream on Monday 18 April, and will be launching the full television show on 2 May. So far, the website has resembled a blog post, with offbeat stories from Syria, Egypt, the US, Hungary and Uganda. It is certainly eccentric (think: a less geeky Boing Boing), but that is exactly what AJE intends.