Spent the weekend at a the CrisisCamp “unconference” at GWU in DC, a meeting of technologists, public policy experts, and a few grungy students around the area of mapping, disaster preparedness and response. Met some people I had previously only known via email, and made new connections for future projects. The first day was mostly to define the problem, discuss how technology fails in crisis situations, and what better tools might look like. There was a serious push on the second day to come up with the broad outlines of a platform that could combine data from different NGOs all working in the same geographic area, which is remarkably topical given my current research area. The call went out for a CrisisCommons, to be developed during an upcoming “Hackistan” session.
I was once again shocked at how much good data is out there that remains trapped in PDF maps. Maybe a combined georectifier/vectorizer is in order. I talked with a guy from GeoCommons briefly about the idea, and he thought it was a bigger challenge than I had initially expected. But I still love the idea of freeing data from the confines of its format, letting it out to wander in the open wilds of the infosphere.
Stopped by the White House on my way out of town; amazing how different it feels to go there now that the occupant has changed. Unlike previous visits, I didn’t feel like yelling obscenities and throwing myself against the iron fence. Welcome change, that. Still, there’s a good representation of the wacko contingent there on any given day. This guy’s sign has the trifecta of racial slurs, conspiracy theory references, and a grizzled beard. Shine on, you crazy diamond, shine on.
Photos from my trip to Big Sur with Ruth.