by Riley Crane
Human history is punctuated by revolutions in communication. Innovations ranging from the printing press to the mobile phone continually improved our communication across space and time, culminating in the Internet Age. Itself a product of crowdsourcing, the Internet can harness a community’s ability to create and analyze data, providing us with movie suggestions, online encyclopedias, and personalized search.
Yet, these examples beg the question: how can we communicate without a pre-existing community? The winners of the DARPA Network Challenge began to answer this question by using social media to find 10 red balloons hidden across the US. But what about collaborating to find a missing child? Or coordinating a peaceful protest? Or communicating in the aftermath of a natural disaster? We are on the cusp of yet another revolution, one that could allow ad hoc communication within any crowd united by a common context. To solve this problem, we just need to rethink the way we communicate.
Want to make some money? Federal agencies have recently been given the authority by Congress to sponsor competitions for individuals, groups, and companies to develop new ideas and technology innovations for a chance to win potentially lucrative prizes. These competitions can range from new mobile outreach technologies to web-based data analytics tools to even vehicle-to-vehicle communications; the government is looking for breakthrough technologies from the minds of the most innovative and forward thinking Americans, many of whom are at SXSW. This session will highlight some of the coolest prizes for technology development that the government has been involved in to date, including the DOT’s Connected Vehicle Challenge, the VA’s Open Source and blue button projects, and NASA’s centennial challenges. Additionally you will learn about some prizes government did NOT play a role in to explore what role the government should be playing in these activities moving forward.
Always-on, high-speed connectivity is the ticket to doing awesome stuff in technology today.
But in a continent like Africa, ‘The Cloud’ is something ‘The Rain’ falls out of.
And still, innovation in the technology realm has managed to flourish and even outpace the more developed world.
We’re talking about television services that use the DVBH standard to beam football matches and news into rural villages; social networks that were designed for exclusive use on mobile phone platforms; funds transfer and electronic payment systems that require nothing more than a SMS text message; insurance products that can be provisioned and procured from the most rudimentary mobile phones.
Outside of the ‘never say die’ innovation Africa employs there’s a great deal the developed world can learn from the developing world, particularly when it comes to building practical solutions that solve real problems.
And with global growth being led by the developing world, these are lessons worth learning.
The bulk of social media and Web 2.0 use in Congress and state legislatures has until now largely been composed of personal tweets and posts by legislators and staff, pushing communications out without engaging in true conversations with constituents. Innovation in this area has lagged the private sector.One Texas Senate committee is changing that. Charged by Chairman John Carona to “push the envelope so hard it’s no longer stationery,” the Business and Commerce Committee is moving out with social media. They began by examining the legislative process and identifying each point where lobbyists and advocates have special access to information or legislators, then looked for technologies that would level the playing field, open the process to the public, or help generate consensus. As a testbed, the committee is currently tackling a tough issue –payday lending – and they’ll tell you what they’re doing, what’s worked and where they think Gov2.0 is going.
9th–13th March 2012