Intervention 2009

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[edit] Introduction

Computers and the Internet provide opportunities for socially motivated projects to expand and increase their effectiveness. While many organizations simply need basic access or training, the goal is to find a project that focuses on expansion or connectivity in novel ways, with a focus on augmenting rather than replacing existing systems. Research through surveying and face to face interaction could be an element.

Disruptive technology - Innovation that creates new (and unexpected) scenarios.

Hacktivism - the nonviolent use of legally ambiguous digital tools or data in pursuit of political ends.

[edit] Process

Situate the project in a relevant community, discuss the project with community representatives including executives, staff and community members, including establishing research through focus groups. Create a prototype application, test the prototype in usability testing, and refine until a product is ready. Build in statistics and specific goals can be used for impact measurement.

[edit] Target communities

For this project, the community must be physically located - for example, a neighbourhood of Montréal, and disadvantaged in some way. For example, physically challenged or transportation issues, newcomer (immigrant), disconnected, mentally disabled, no sustainable skills, challenges to healthy lifestyle, disproportionate age balance, etc.

[edit] Types of projects and their aspects

The following roughly organizes possible interventions; they should be considered in combination.

[edit] Access and Inclusion

  • Access to internet through hotspots, free wireless (Île sans fil), cellular networks
  • Access to specialized software - business, publishing, analysis, communications
  • Refurbished computers
  • Orientation and training
  • Free/open source, creative commons, terms of use - legal means to make data or applications restricted or freely re-usable and leverage-able for successive projects
  • Anonymity and privacy
  • Accessibility - Making information thoughtful available to users with different requirements - good basic designs, use of standards, enables such as screen readers
  • Transparency and accountability
  • Individually selective publishing of data
  • Telephone systems (IVR)

[edit] Data

  • Mashups - combining data sources and views - for example, combines the rental data from craigslist with the map interface of Google Maps.


  • Liberation - - making content that should (eg, government, personal health, etc) be available for re-use available


  • Data sovereignty - if a government or institution (eg hospital) works with a US (for example) company, the US government by law gains access to that data.
  • Standards - formal and ad-hoc - use of proprietary (Microsoft) document formats by public institutions, that require recipients to buy (or steal) particular, expensive applications, especially when they are not suitable (eg document doesn't need to be edited, so use PDF or HTML) or free alternatives exist (OpenOffice)?

[edit] Communications

  • Email, discussions, chat
  • Peer to peer networking
  • Communities (of practice, interest) - provide relevant information and social software
  • Social software - Facebook, MySpace, etc - allow individuals to self-organize by interest and connection
  • Cloud computing - infrastructure (file storage, word processing, etc) based on Web sites rather than computer applications.
  • Ubiquitous (ambient) computing - low cost distributed computers and sensors (eg cameras, audio, etc) that can be used for measuring, monitoring, etc. eg community safety.
  • Commenting - allow commenting on local or third party content
  • Deliberation - allow polling and rated conversation to drive research, policy, etc
  • Web sites

[edit] Visualization

  • Geo mapping - useful for identifying sites of interest. eg crime areas, political boundaries, transportation, etc.


  • Entity mapping -, FOAF - Useful for understanding and navigating individuals, organizations, etc. and their relations. Project to detail dynamic relationships (Guérard's C-SNAPS)?


  • Analysis - scraping/parsing, organizing and processing data.
  • History / timelines

[edit] International and localization

  • Adapt content and software to local languages and cultures.

[edit] Issues

  • Access - who has access, who are the connection points and what are their motivations
  • Who will access the data - will it always benefit the community?

[edit] Past projects

These are projects I've participated in as tech or overall lead or a main collaborator.

  • 1993 - First public ISP in Toronto with significant community
  • 2001- Canada's first public public engagement project on foreign policy (WSIS medal winner)
  • 2005 - Ported UK theyworkforyou/publicwhip projects to Canadian Hansard proceedings (project collapsed due to lack of a backer)
  • 2006 - Develop patient access to their record and collaborative care (ongoing)

[edit] Related

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