Newark's Cory Booker: Social Media Can Help Fix Broken Government


Internet Evolution on Cory Booker’s panel at Ad Age Digital Conference: “Social media have been a part of a transformation of the City of Newark from a butt of jokes to a community experiencing economic growth, Booker told the Ad Age conference. Newark has a population of 300,000 in a state with 9 million people, and yet, Newark has a third of the economic growth in the state. The city population is growing for the first time in 60 years.
Social media can be a big part of the cure for government that has become unresponsive to the needs of its citizens, Booker said. He quoted California Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom, who uses the phrase “vending machine government.” Citizens pay for government services, and get prepackaged offerings in return. “If you don’t like what you get, you shake the vending machine,” Booker said…
When people lean back and disengage, government becomes unresponsive. But social media provide the tools for citizens to collaborate with government.  “We have all these tools pulling government away from citizens,” Booker said. These include special interest groups and moneyed corporate lobbies. “But social media brings us closer.”
Twitter helped Newark rebuild its reputation. The city had been a butt of jokes for years. When Conan O’Brien made a joke at Newark’s expense, Booker replied with an online video that said O’Brien was now on the no-fly list at Newark Airport. The TSA got into the act, issuing a statement that Booker didn’t have that power. Then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton followed up with a plea for Booker and O’Brien to just get along.
And it’s not just a matter of public relations; social media have helped improve Newark in concrete ways — Newark’s government is more effective. For example, its inspectors are vastly more efficient at finding violations when citizens can use social media to point up problems, Booker said.
Video can be an even more powerful tool for getting a message out than microblogging services such as Twitter, Booker said. And that led to discussion of Booker’s startup, #waywire. The beta video service, updated this week to focus on video curation, is a place where people can collect and share online video.”
 

Public health, disaster recovery and social media


Janice Jacobs:  “Increasingly, social media is playing a key role in helping to ease the heavy burden of these tragedies by connecting individuals and communities with each other and with critical resources…
Social media, in its simplest form, can notify the masses in real-time about situations that are happening or are about to happen.

  • In August 2011, several New Yorkers learned of an earthquake on Twitter prior to feeling it. From the D.C. area, tweets began popping up in droves almost 30 seconds before anyone felt the tremors in New York City, and ahead of any media reports about it. Twitter said that more than 40,000 earthquake-related tweets were sent within a minute of the earthquake’s manifestation…...

Social media can be used to identify trouble spots and to react quickly during emergencies.

Social media can be used to foster communication among various healthcare, aid, government agencies and individuals.

  • Cory Booker, Mayor of Newark, NJ, a prolific Twitter user, consistently tweeted helpful information for the Newark community following Hurricane Sandy in late October 2012.”

 

The GovLab


Steven Johnson, author of Future Perfect : “Peer-to-Patent stands as one of my favorite examples of peer progressive thinking at work. It brings in outside minds not directly affiliated with the government to help the government solve the problems it faces, effectively making a more porous boundary between citizen and state….I say all this to explain why I’m excited to be flying to NY tonight to help Noveck with her latest project, the Governance Lab at NYU, an extended, multidisciplinary investigation in new forms of participatory governance, backed by the Knight Foundation and the MacArthur Foundation…
I wrote Future Perfect in large part to capture all the thrilling new experiments and research into peer collaboration that I saw flourishing all around me, and to give those diverse projects the umbrella name of peer progressivism so that they could be more easily conceived as a unified movement. But I also wrote the book with the explicit assumption that we had a lot to learn about these systems. For starters, peer networks take a number of different forms: crowdfunding projects like Kickstarter are quite different from crowd-authored projects like open source software or Wikipedia; prize-backed challenges are a completely different beast altogether. For movement-building, it’s important to stress the commonalities between these different networks, but for practical application, we need to study the distinctions. And we need to avoid the easy assumption that decentralized, peer-based approaches will always outperform centralized ones.

Mental Geography, Wonky Maps and a Long Way Ahead


Paper by Alan Dix at GeoHCI Workshop at CHI 2013, April 27–28, 2013: ” It has never been easier to create your own maps, creating data mashups with Google Maps and similar tools and embedding them in web pages. This has benefited tourism and commerce, and has also revolutionised many areas of social activism, allowing open government data and other public (or leaked) data to be visualised in ways that may subvert or offer alternative views to the official narrative. However, like all maps, digital mapping  embodies a particular politics and world view…”

Surfing Logs Reveal Global Eating Patterns


From the The Physics arXiv Blog:  “The way we view online recipes reveals how our eating habits change over time, say computational sociologists….it’s no surprise that computational sociologists have begun to mine the data associated with our browsing habits to discover more about our diets and eating habits. Last year we looked at some fascinating work examining networks of ingredients and the flavours they contain, gathered from online recipe websites.  It turns out this approach gives fascinating insights into the way recipes vary geographically and into the possibility of unexplored combinations of flavours.
Today, Robert West at Stanford University and Ryen White and Eric Horvitz from Microsoft Research in Redmond, take a deeper look at the electronic trails we leave when we hunt for food on the web. They say the data reveals important trends in the way our diets change with the season, with our geographical location and with certain special days such as Thanksgiving and Christmas. And they conclude that the data could become an important tool for monitoring public health.”
See also : arxiv.org/abs/1304.3742: From Cookies to Cooks: Insights on Dietary Patterns via Analysis of Web Usage Logs

Asking the right questions: The 4-24 Project


“The 4-24 Project is dedicated to rekindling the provocative power of asking the right questions in adults so they can pass this crucial creativity skill onto the next generation. By setting aside 4 minutes every 24 hours (or one full day each year) we, as adults, can become better at building the right questions that will unlock today’s vexing challenges. Our strengthened questioning capacity will hopefully help us cultivate and sharpen the curiosity of the world’s 1.85 billion children as they prepare for a lifetime of significant service.”

The New Digital Age: Reshaping the Future of People, Nations and Business


The New Digital Age: Reshaping the Future of People, Nations and Business by Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen, Knopf, 2013
Scientific American: “Schmidt, executive chairman of Google, and Cohen, director of Google Ideas and a foreign policy wonk who has advised Hillary Clinton, deliver their vision of the future in this ambitious, fascinating account. For gadget geeks, the book is filled with tantalizing examples of futuristic goods and services: robotic plumbers; automated haircuts; computers that read body language; and 3-D holographs of weddings projected into the living rooms of relatives who couldn’t attend. Not surprisingly, the authors are bullish on how connectivity—access to the Internet that will soon be nearly universal—will transform education, terrorism, journalism, government, privacy and war. The result, they argue, though not perfect, will be “more egalitarian, more transparent and more interesting than we can even imagine.”

David Brooks on Big Data


David Brooks in NYT: “Over the past few centuries, there have been many efforts to come up with methods to help predict human behavior — what Leon Wieseltier of The New Republic calls mathematizing the subjective. The current one is the effort to understand the world by using big data.

Other efforts to predict behavior were based on models of human nature. The people using big data don’t presume to peer deeply into people’s souls. They don’t try to explain why people are doing things. They just want to observe what they are doing. The theory of big data is to have no theory, at least about human nature. You just gather huge amounts of information, observe the patterns and estimate probabilities about how people will act in the future….

One of my take-aways is that big data is really good at telling you what to pay attention to. It can tell you what sort of student is likely to fall behind. But then to actually intervene to help that student, you have to get back in the world of causality, back into the world of responsibility, back in the world of advising someone to do x because it will cause y.”

Big Data, Big Brains


“This report on Big Data is the first MeriTalk Beacon, a new series of reports designed to shed light and provide direction on far reaching issues in government and technology. Since Beacons are designed to tackle broad concepts, each Beacon report relies on insight from a small number of big thinkers in the topic area. Less data. More insight. Real knowledge…Mankind created 150 exabytes (billion gigabytes) of data in 2005, and 1,800 exabytes in 20112; growth that only continues to accelerate. Every minute, users: Upload 48 hours of video to YouTube; Send 204 million emails; Spend $207,000 via the web; Create 571 new websites. Within the Federal government; U.S. drone aircraft sent back 24 years worth of video footage in just 2009. Every 24 hours, NASA’s Curiosity rover can send nearly three gigabytes of data, collecting in mere days the equivalent of all human knowledge through the death of Augustus Caesar – from Mars.”

Quarter of time online is spent on social networking


Experian: “Insights from Experian, the global information services company, reveals that if the time spent on the Internet was distilled into an hour then a quarter of it would be spent on social networking and forums across UK, US and Australia. In the UK 13 minutes out of every hour online is spent on social networking and forums, nine minutes on entertainment sites and six minutes shopping.”
Social Networking table