This coming Saturday September 5th I will be joined by an illustrious group of speakers (and friends) here in Linz to map a new framework to think about collective intelligence in the era of cloud computing. A schedule of the day’s events is available on the Ars Electronica website. All of the presentations will be streamed live and you can participate via Twitter, chat, and the symposium blog. I’ll post more detailed instructions about how to participate in the day’s discussion both here and on the conference blog. You can calculate the time difference between Austria and your local time zone using TimeAndDate.com.
And now, an introduction to the speakers:
In just 17 words Juliana describes herself as: “African, Kenyan blogger with treehuggery & geeky tendencies. Africa, tech, solar and Renewable Energy in general interest me.” She has written for several years about environmental issues as they relate to Africa on her blog Afromusing. She speaks frequently about environmental and tech issues at major international conferences, and she has a soft spot for comics like The Boondocks and Pearls Before Swine. She was most recently at TEDxNairobi, which she documented extensively on her Flickr account.
Juliana was in Kenya during the 2007-2008 post-election crisis. When the reports of violence from her native city of Eldoret were first mentioned Juliana began posting brief updates to her Twitter account about refugee movements, fuel shortages, and road and airport closures. Her actions helped inspire and contribute to Ushahidi, a platform to crowdsource crisis information from mobile phones, email, and the web. Last year Juliana co-authored a paper on the role of networked digital technologies in Kenya’s 2007-2008 post-election crisis. Fellow symposium speaker Teddy Ruge interviewed Juliana while they were both in Chicago.
Kristen recently settled in Brooklyn, New York and from her most recent blog post, it seems there is nowhere she would rather be. She is the Digital Content and Community Manager for PopTech. In previous life-chapters she helped PBS launch Engage and the Knight Foundation launch Knight Pulse. Kristen is an impassioned video blogger, frequently pointing her Flip camera into others’ kitchens and her own. Here she is holding a blowtorch to an unsuspecting tomato.
Directly related to our conversation about cloud intelligence is Kristen’s dissertation at the University of Virgina, titled “Culture Modding: How We Play With Our Food, Money, and Beds in the Twenty-First Century.” She collects related case studies, research, and observations at culturemodding.com.
Teddy is the co-founder of Project Diaspora, which aims to encourage more Africans living in the diaspora to combine financial remittances with new media technologies to more effectively and ethically stay invested in Africa’s development. He is a frequent critic of the aid-based approach to African development and caused a minor media storm in April with his post “Celebrity stunts of altruism are killing livelihoods in Africa.”
Teddy speaks with action as well as words. “Project Aloe” aims to help aloe vera farmers in Western Uganda capitalize on their crops by identifying market possibilities and leveraging the networking potential of the web. He is the Ugandan record-holder in the decathlon and pole vault and, formerly, the high jump.
Pablo is a professor of engineering at Uruguay’s University of the Republic. In the English-speaking tech world, however, Pablo is known for his activism and frequent blogging about Plan Ceibal, the OLPC project in Uruguay. As the first country to sign on completely to OLPC’s vision of providing a laptop to every school-aged child, Plan Ceibal (and Pablo) are often in the center of a heated debate about the value of technology in the classroom. In 2007 he co-authored one of the few academic papers on the impact of the OLPC project. He is one of the founders of CeibalJam, a community of Uruguayan programmers creating open-source applications for the XO laptop, and Flor de Ceibo, which partners tech-savvy university students with teachers in rural schools who have asked for training. Pablo is currently on sabbatical with his wife. They are traveling around the world to research other one-to-one computer programs in Chile, Cambodia, Vietnam, India Japan, and elsewhere.
Andrés is a PhD student and Bradesco Fellow at the MIT Media Lab. As far as academic home pages go, his might have more web 2.0 widgets than any other. Andrés studied electrical engineering at Mexico’s prestigious Tec de Monterrey and later went on to work in the software industry and at Los Alamos National Lab. He has conceptualized and lead the development of the Scratch online community where thousands of children and novices are sharing their own interactive stories, animations, games, music, and art with one another. He is also one of the lead developers of the Lifelong Kindergarten project – and here he is describing just what that is:
His top three favorite bands – so says Last.fm – are Coldplay, Radiohead, and Travis.
If you go to Ethan’s blog today you will see that he hasn’t published a post for nearly a month. This could well be a record. Ethan is one of the web’s most prolific writers. He is currently resting and recovering after retinal surgery. (Though resting for Ethan means building custom book shelves.) He is the co-founder of Global Voices and a researcher at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society. He was recently profiled by the New York Times for his latest project,Media Cloud, which aims to track the flow of media. Much of his recent research has centered around the use of Twitter during times of political upheaval.
Stephen Downes is just back from a camping trip, and is now sorting through 927 emails – to which I know I’ve contributed my fair share. He is one of the world’s authorities on online learning and new media. As a researcher at Canada’s National Research Council Stephen investigates best practices and future possibilities of e-learning, new technologies, and blogging as it relates to education. Just over two years ago he published a blog post titled “Why the Semantic Web Will Fail”, which challenges our thinking about Cloud Intelligence:
The future is not in the Semantic Web … We’ll post to these Web 2.0 sites, but if the content means anything, we’ll keep a copy on our computer as well … But trust them? Not a chance. The future of the web will be based on personal computing … If my online world depends on them – and in the Semantic Web, it would – then my online world will fail. Will be a house of cards that will eventually collapse.
His cat, Pudds, was the first feline (though certainly not the last) in Manitoba to have had her own web page.
Anders is a researcher at Oxford University’s Future of Humanity Institute. He recently published a fascinating paper which outlines the technical roadmap to brain emulation, the basic idea of which is “to take a particular brain, scan its structure in detail, and construct a software model of it that is so faithful to the original that, when run on appropriate hardware, it will behave in essentially the same way as the original brain.”
Only on Wall Street!
Evgeny will be participating remotely (from Washington DC I believe) on the topic of slacktivism, which Urban Dictionary defines as “the act of participating in obviously pointless activities as an expedient alternative to actually expending effort to fix a problem.” Evgeny’s writing on slacktivism inspired a lot of media attention and debate earlier this year, which was summed up recently by Ali Cherry from Beaconfire Consulting. There is even a proposed panel for this year’s South by Southwest titled “Can Double-Clicking Change The World? Slacktivism 101.” On a related note, Evgeny also recently ‘debated‘ with Ethan Zuckerman aboutt cybersecurity and whether or not social media is inherently a liberating force. That discussion was dubbed by Open Society Institute as a debate “between Batman and Superman.” I’m still not sure who’s who.
Hamid Tehrani is a researcher, blogger and journalist. He is the Persian editor of Global Voices and is the founder of “Sounds Iranian,” a community for researchers on Iranian blogs. While most researchers and pundits on the Iranian blogosphere have tended to focus on reformist bloggers, Tehrani has focused his research on the country’s Islamist bloggers. He was interviewed extensively during Iran’s post-election protests. Regarding the impact of Twitter during the protests Tehrani thinks that:
the media exaggerated the impact of Twitter. Twitter is used to inform people what is going on in a demonstration, such as slogans, security forces’ brutality … but it does not play a significant role in organizing a movement. FaceBook plays a very significant role too. Mousavi’s supporters’ FaceBook group has around 90,000 supporters, any message there can go around very fast. YouTube also helped Iranians to immortalize their struggle, victims and resistance.
Not only is it the 40th anniversary of the internet and the 20th anniversary of the World Wide Web; it is also the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square protests, an event which had a profound impact on Xiao’s life. Trained as a theoretical physicist, Xiao Qiang became a human rights activist after Tiananmen in 1989 and was executive director of Human Rights in China from 1991 to 2002. He now is director of the Berkeley China Internet Project at the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley. He is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of China Digital Times, a bilingual collaborative China news website. Xiao also writes on Rock-n-Go, a personal blog where occasionally publishes poetry in both English and Chinese. His most recent, titled “Breathing,” in four lines:
I feel more calm already.