Categories
News & Media Projects & Ideas

Infochimps

Everything is digitized these days. Almost all of our activities, online and offline leave a footprint that will be stored in 0’s and 1’s. All this wealth of data is fueling new perspectives and disciplines in art, journalism, anthropology, social research and, of course, in marketing and advertising.

For most people though, it may be difficult to gain access to datasets, whether because of a lack of expertise, contacts or money. Infochimps is a searchable collection of datasets that can be shared or sold. For those datasets that are free, you don’t even need to create an account to download the data. You can see examples of what can be done with the data found in the site.

There are three facets to Infochimps, community curation, user uploading and marketplace.

  1. Community Curation – In order to have a comprehensive collection of datasets that are discoverable and useful, members of the Infochimps community curate datasets. This includes fixing mistakes, improving descriptions and pointing to other sources.
  2. User Uploading – Users upload their datasets, or datasets that they deem useful, building the commons.
  3. Marketplace – Infochimps provides a marketplace for users to buy and sell data.

Infochimps is powered by Infinite Monkeywrench, an open source (GPL 3) set of tools and programming frameworks to work with large sets of data. Infinite Monkeywrench can be downloaded here.

Categories
Education Projects & Ideas

P2P University

Education is one of the cultural fields that is going through an intensive process of re-examination of their practices and processes as a result of the influence of new online communication structures. Lately there has been an intensive bloom of alternative education experiences, like Free Universities and other informal learning experiments, that are often based on a physical location.

The P2P University translates this efforts into online education, but doesn’t question the structure of courses or the roles of teachers and learners:

The Peer 2 Peer University (P2PU) is an online community of open study groups for short university-level courses. Think of it as online book clubs for open educational resources. The P2PU helps you navigate the wealth of open education materials that are out there, creates small groups of motivated learners, and supports the design and facilitation of courses. Students and tutors get recognition for their work, and we are building pathways to formal credit as well.

At the moment of this writing, there are no courses open for registration, but you can set up an account, and wait for new courses to be announced. The courses currently being taught at the P2P University have a wide range of subjects, from ecology to writing and from arts to politics.

Categories
Art & Craft Education Projects & Ideas

OurGoods

With a little help of your friends, so it goes the song. And it also seems to be the motto of OurGoods, a peer to peer social network that puts in contact people with a “have” with people with a “need”. It also provides the tools to facilitate the bartering between people. The project is intended to be used primarily by artists, with the aim to support that community in times of economic pressure, when resources are scarce.

OurGoods supports the production of new work through barter, because resource sharing is the paradigm of the 21st century. OurGoods is a scaleable, local initiative and part of the growing landscape of alternative models of exchange in art, design, and culture. OurGoods is specifically dedicated to the barter of creative skills, spaces, and objects. OurGoods helps independent projects get done.

The bartering platform is currently being tested as an aplha version, restricted to New York City only, but as the project matures, it will allow participation from people from outside the arts community and from other locations around the world to form local exchange networks.

One of the interesting peculiarities of the project is that it forbids the participation of organizations, requiring you to participate as an individual.

The starting point of the OurGoods project was the Trade School, in which you could register for classes in a range of different subjects, as long as you provided something (a service, a good, a space) to the teacher in return. The Trade School is scheduled for a re-opening in September.

You can find out more on OurGoods in this presentation or ask here for an invite code to participate in the beta.

Categories
Politics Projects & Ideas

Parlio

Parlamentary political activity usually has two sides in the modern democracies of the west. On the first side, you get the visual, staged dramatization, ready for night news consumption, of the debates and arguments between the most prominent political representatives. On the other, there are all the bureocracy rituals, anchored in the nineteenth century foundation of this particular way of embodying political action.

Making this rituals of power more understandable for citizens, quantifying them and exposing lazyness and contradictions of politicians are some of the objectives of Parlio. They focus their activity on the Basque Parliament, the legislative body of the Basque Country autonomous community of Spain. In their own words:

We take the data from the Basque Parliament’s official site and we bring it to the people in a much more user friendly way, so we can really know what the politicians are doing… and what they are not.

However, as usual in public service websites in Spain, where there is no access to information law (the largest EU country without that law, according to Access-Info), the data in the Basque Parliament official website is not provided in a standard format and is not easily re-usable by third parties. Parlio, then, has also the secondary function of translating that data to structured formats, where mashups and other web 2.0 magic trickery takes place. The ruby module that scraps the content out of the Basque Parliament website is avaliable here with a MIT license, so you can, too gather the data for your own purposes. It seems that the whole Parlio website, also in Ruby, will be open sourced at some point. The whole Parlio website has been also open sourced (updated 7.12.09).

In fact, Parlio is funded by Pro Bono Publico, a spanish open association that promotes the use of free and open standards, data and technological platforms in the public institutions. They are looking for designers and developers with any level of expertise to help them shape other projects around public institutions and transparency.

This project was submitted through the front page form by Ana Malagon, one of the developers of Parlio.

Categories
Environment Projects & Ideas

Guerrilla Gardening

When your city council neglects to take care of the public green spaces in your city, who you gonna call? Not the city council gardeners, but your own neighbours and friends.

Guerrilla Gardening is a loose network of local groups that want to regain control of the public space, and more precisely, of the green spots in our cities, from the institutions. The act of citizens looking after their own green spaces fosters consciousness of public spaces, improves their involvement in city matters, and of course, makes better looking gardens. And maybe some vegetables and fruits for tasty victories over concrete and ugliness.

Guerrilla Gardening

In the Guerrilla Gardening website you can find a community posting board with local groups in your country, with sub-boards for states and cities. If your country or city is not listed, you can send an email to open up a new board and start organizing a local Guerrilla Gardening group.

The Guerrilla Gardening groups are totally independent from each other, there is no central organization nor do you need to affilliate or even sign up to the website. You can just set up your own website to organize your community, as this group in Madrid has done (weird copyright legal notice and all).

Categories
News & Media Projects & Ideas

Knowmore.org

Knowmore.org is a site that gathers information on corporations and their products, in order for people to have better and informed choices.

We are a grassroots, web-based community dedicated to chronicling and resisting corporate attacks on democracy, worker’s and human rights, fair trade, business ethics and the environment. Our shared goal of a more informed and conscious consumer is being accomplished via this website: a vast database of easily searchable corporate and political info designed to aid responsible citizens, progressive thinkers and activists.

Ethical Consumerism is an important movement toward corporate reform, through which individuals recognize their own role in systems of oppression, and take personal steps toward resistance and positive change.

They site rates the performance of a company in five different areas or issues: workers’ rights, human rights, environment, political influence and business ethics.  Knowmore was conceived and founded by independent hip hop artists B. Dolan and Sage Francis.

Find how you can participate in this project.

Categories
Production Projects & Ideas

Local Food Systems

There has been a lot of debate lately on the issue of regenerating local economies and production, instead of relying on globalized, delocalized products. This has even spawned new social consuming trends, like the localvores, people committed to consume only locally produced food. Farmers also are eager to revitalize local production, consumption and networks, to strengthen their economy, reduce their carbon-footprint and depend on less mediators to reach consumers.

Local Food Systems is one of this networks, located mainly in the american states of Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan. They state:

  1. We have the people, land and climate needed to produce fresh, affordable, and healthy food.
  2. Our growing community of producers and consumers can create strong local food systems, reduce use of fossil fuels, and create businesses and jobs.
  3. Vibrant local and regional agriculture generates wealth in communities, establishes healthy environments for families, and enhances quality of life for all.
Categories
Environment Projects & Ideas

DIY City

How can inhabitants interact with urban planners and affect the way their city evolves? How can they think, and propose, better solutions for urban problems in a horizontal way, adapted to the particularities of a district or neighboorhood, or building, instead of having an elite deciding what’s best for everyone?

DIYcity is a site where people from all over the world think about, talk about, and ultimately build tools for making their cities work better with web technologies. The result is an open source suite of tools that residents of any city, anywhere, can plug into and use to make their area better. This toolset, as it grows, becomes an initial version of a city/resident interface. This interface is the ultimate product, and the ultimate goal, of DIYcity.

Cityleft works for a new theoretical and practical scenario in urban planning. The new scenario is called Urbanism 3.0.

In Urbanism 3.0, Urban Art Interventions and Peer to Peer (P2P) projects are conceived to simulate alternative urban scenarios in public space capable to affect region making as well urban planning, involving the participation of a broad research community made of urbanists, social workers, NGOs, environmental artists, graphic designers, minorities, inhabitants, and so on.

The mention of anything 3.0 or 2.0 or whatever makes me cringe a little bit. We should drop the mentions of x.0 in our projects as this assumes that is the next, logical step in the evolution of a certain discipline, and inherently, excludes any other approaches. There are no hegemonic, totalizing, global solutions to problems or ways in which a discipline, science or cultural feature may evolve.

Categories
Art & Craft Projects & Ideas

Radical Cross Stitch

Radical Cross Stitch is an australian blog and wiki dedicated to political DIY craft, with the aim to create a community for this kind of projects.

What we are underutilising is the potential for crafts to express our rage at the stupidity of the world, demonstrate our vision for how to do things better and at the same time honour our mothers, grandmothers and great-great-great grandmothers. Women (and men) are rarely getting together to create community based craft projects designed to express a creative vision for a better world.