David Talbot in MIT Technology Review: “Researchers at IBM, using movement data collected from millions of cell-phone users in Ivory Coast in West Africa, have developed a new model for optimizing an urban transportation system….
While the results were preliminary, they point to the new ways that urban planners can use cell-phone data to design infrastructure, says Francesco Calabrese, a researcher at IBM’s research lab in Dublin, and a coauthor of a paper on the work. “This represents a new front with a potentially large impact on improving urban transportation systems,” he says. “People with cell phones can serve as sensors and be the building blocks of development efforts.”
The IBM work was done as part of a research challenge dubbed Data for Development, in which the telecom giant Orange released 2.5 billion call records from five million cell-phone users in Ivory Coast. The records were gathered between December 2011 and April 2012. The data release is the largest of its kind ever done. The records were cleaned to prevent anyone identifying the users, but they still include useful information about these users’ movements. The IBM paper is one of scores being aired later this week at a conference at MIT.”
Wilson Center: ” The Commons Lab today released a new policy memo exploring the vulnerabilities facing the widespread use and acceptance of social media and crowdsourcing. This is the second publication in the project’s policy memo series.
Using real-world examples, security expert George Chamales describes the most-pressing cybersecurity vulnerabilities in this space and calls for the development of best practices to address these vulnerabilities, ultimately concluding that it is possible for institutions to develop trust in the emerging technologies. From the memo’s executive summary:
Individuals and organizations interested in using social media and crowdsourcing currently lack two key sets of information: a systematic assessment of the vulnerabilities in these technologies and a comprehensive set of best practices describing how to address those vulnerabilities. Identifying those vulnerabilities and developing those best practices are necessary to address a growing number of incidents ranging from innocent mistakes to targeted attacks that have claimed lives and cost millions of dollars.
Click here to read the full memo on Scribd.
USDA News Release: “Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, along with Bill Gates, and U.S. Chief Technology Officer Todd Park, today kicked off a two-day international open data conference, saying that data “is among the most important commodities in agriculture” and sharing it openly increases its value.
Secretary Vilsack, as head of the U.S. Government delegation to the conference, announced the launch of a new “virtual community” as part of a suite of actions, including the release of new data, that the United States is taking to give farmers and ranchers, scientists, policy makers and other members of the public easy access to publicly funded data to help increase food security and nutrition.
“The digital revolution fueled by open data is starting to do for the modern world of agriculture what the industrial revolution did for agricultural productivity over the past century,” said Vilsack. “Open access to data will help combat food insecurity today while laying the groundwork for a sustainable agricultural system to feed a population that is projected to be more than nine billion by 2050.”
The virtual Food, Agriculture, and Rural data community launched today on Data.gov-the U.S. Government’s data sharing website-to catalogue America’s publicly available agricultural data and increase the ability of the public to find, download, and use datasets that are generated and held by the Federal Government. The data community features a collection of more than 300 newly cataloged datasets, databases, and raw data sources related to food, agriculture, and rural issues from agencies across the U.S. Government. In addition to the data catalog, the virtual community shares a number of applications, maps and tools designed to help farmers, scientists and policymakers improve global food security and nutrition….
The conference and the U.S. actions supporting open agricultural data fulfill the Open Data for Agriculture commitment made as part of the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, which was launched by President Obama and G-8 partners at the 2012 G-8 Leaders Summit last year at Camp David, Maryland.”
|G-8 Open Data for Agriculture Conference Aims to Help Feed a Growing Population and Fulfill New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition Commitment
||Secretary Vilsack Announces Launch of a Virtual Community to Give Increased Public Access to Food, Agriculture, and Rural Data
The White House launches Tumblr: “We see some great things here at the White House every day, and sharing that stuff with you is one of the best parts of our jobs. That’s why we’re launching a Tumblr.
We’ll post things like the best quotes from President Obama, or video of young scientists visiting the White House for the science fair, or photos of adorable moments with Bo. We’ve got some wonky charts, too.
Because to us, those are actually kind of exciting. But this is also about you. President Obama is committed to making this the most open and accessible administration in history, and our Tumblr is no exception.
We want to see what you have to share: Questions you have for the White House, stories of what a policy like immigration reform means to you, or ways we can improve our Tumbling. We’re new here, and we’re all ears”
A new paper by Prof. Vickie Edwards in the International Journal of Organization Theory and Behavior (IJOTB) concludes: “Research in the years to come should focus on how organizational forms are best adapted to integrate these participatory methods. Specifically, by examining organizational structures and how they integrate with the public in both successful and unsuccessful cases, scholars can gain a better understanding of appropriate organizational forms for stronger democracies at the local level. Such studies should also consider behavioral aspects and the views of both administrators and citizens who become involved in such efforts, as a lack of buy-in at any stage in the participatory process can cause the process to fail – something evidenced by the Great Society efforts in engagement. Personality factors may also play a role in the success or failure of engagement efforts, as such efforts may hinge on the public popularity of individual administrators who interface with citizens. Documenting efforts at participation and engagement through the use of case studies, survey methods, and social network analysis can aid practitioners in identifying best practices, as well as scholars as we seek to better understand each new piece of the participation puzzle”.
Statement from the Boston Children’s Hospital: “The higher the percentage of people in a city, town or neighborhood with Facebook interests suggesting a healthy, active lifestyle, the lower that area’s obesity rate. At the same time, areas with a large percentage of Facebook users with television-related interests tend to have higher rates of obesity. Such are the conclusions of a study by Boston Children’s Hospital researchers comparing geotagged Facebook user data with data from national and New York City-focused health surveys.
Together, the conclusions suggest that knowledge of people’s online interests within geographic areas may help public health researchers predict, track and map obesity rates down to the neighborhood level, while offering an opportunity to design geotargeted online interventions aimed at reducing obesity rates.
The study team, led by Rumi Chunara, PhD, and John Brownstein, PhD, of Boston Children’s Hospital’s Informatics Program (CHIP), published their findings on April 24 in PLOS ONE. The amount of data available from social networks like Facebook makes it possible to efficiently carry out research in cohorts of a size that has until now been impractical.”
Primer by ValuationApp: “Crowdfunding can be defined as raising funds from the general public usually through internet platforms in order to support a project started by an individual or an organization….Crowdfunding is essentially a subset of Crowdsourcing; a process where organizations reach out to their customers and the general public, and outsource some of their functions to the public in order to get feedback, ideas and solutions. In crowdsourcing, the participants either work for free or for a very small amount…the first historically documented crowdfunding event was the completion of the Statue of Liberty in 1885, where the city reached out to the crowd through newspapers and part of the money required to build the statue was contributed by the citizens…
Several benefits of crowdfunding have been discussed in the previous sections, so in this section let’s cut right to the chase and present points in the most compact form. Through crowdfunding, individuals and organizations can:
- Reach out to a wide range of people all over the world.
- Raise large amounts of funds while simultaneously creating their own brand identity.
- Gain valuable feedback on the product/service/project they are raising the funds for.
- Turn funders into future customers.
- Stop depending on large investment from investors and thus enjoy minimum interference from the investors.
- Increase public awareness about their products and gain free word of mouth marketing on social media.”
John Keane, Professor of Politics, in The Conversation: “The extraordinary bounce-back reveals the most disturbing, but least obvious, largely invisible, feature of the unfinished European crisis: the transformation of democratic taxation states into post-democratic banking states.
What is meant by this mouthful? The Austrian economist Joseph Schumpeter long ago pointed out how modern European states (at first they were monarchies, later most became republics) fed upon taxes extracted from their subject populations. The point is still emphasised by government and politics textbooks. Usually this is done by noting that under democratic conditions elected governments are expected to satisfy the needs and respond to the demands of citizens by providing various goods and services paid for through taxation granted by their consent. Behind this observation stands the presumption that the creation and circulation of money is the prerogative of the state. ‘Money is a creature of the legal order’, wrote Georg Friedrich Knapp in his classic State Theory of Money (1905)….
Slowly but surely, in most European democracies, the power to create and regulate money has effectively been privatised. Without much public commentary or public resistance, governments of recent decades have surrendered their control over a vital resource, with the result that commercial banks and credit institutions now have much more ‘spending power’ than elected governments. In a most interesting new book, the acclaimed historian Harold James has described how this out-flanking of European states by banks and credit institutions was reinforced at the supra-national level, disastrously it turns out, by the formation of the independent European Central Bank….
The principle of no taxation without representation was one of the most important of these innovations. Born of deep tensions between citizen creditors and monarchs in the prosperous Low Countries, it proved to be revolutionary. In late 16th-century cities such as Amsterdam and Bruges, influential men with money to invest demanded, as citizens, that they should only agree to lend money to governments, and to pay their taxes, if in return they were granted the power to decide who governs them. The principle was first formulated in the name of democracy (democratie) in a remarkable Dutch-language pamphlet called The Discourse (it’s analysed in detail in The Life and Death of Democracy. Its author is unknown….
Sure, these political proposals and reforms are better than nothing, but if my short history of banks and democracy is plausible then it suggests that a much tougher and more innovative program of democratisation is needed. If the aim is to ‘throw as many wrenches as possible into the works of haute finance’ (Wolfgang Streeck), then organised pressures from below, from both voters and civil society networks, will be vital.”
Volta: “Visualising arguments helps people assemble their throughts and get to grip with complex problems according to The Argumentation Factory, based in Amsterdam. Their Argument Maps, constructed for government agencies, NGOs and commercial organizations, are designed to enable people to make better decisions and share and communicate information.
Dutch research organisation TNO, in association with The Argumentation Factory, have launched the European Shale Gas Argument Map detailing the pros and cons of the production of shale gas for EU member states with shale gas resources. Their map is designed to provide the foundation for an open discussion and help the user make a balaced assessment.”
MIT Technology Review: “This week’s fleeting stock market crash prompted by a false report from the Associated Press’s hacked Twitter account has focused attention again on the growing Wall Street practice of mining news and social data to make trades.
A study in Nature Scientific Reports today illustrates just how lucrative the right combination of algorithms could potentially be.
Using Google Trends, researchers analyzed the Google search query volumes from 2004 to 2011 for a set of 98 mostly finance-related search terms, looked at how stock prices changed over that same time, and tried to see if they could retroactively tease out search patterns that showed “early warning signs” of market moves. They also tested trading strategies that would act on these signs.
The volume of the search term “debt” turned out to be the word that showed the most promise, and one trading plan based on changes in searches for this term would have yielded a return of 326 percent over the period analyzed, the authors found. For comparison, a “buy and hold” investment in the Dow Jones Industrial Average yielded 16 percent return.”