Release time!

Well, we’ve been pretty quiet around this blog what with moving to Berlin and all. However we have been pretty busy behind the scenes, with Ana continuing to push the boundaries of governmental social media use and I’ve been mainly occupied with the ChokePoint Project. So I’m proud to show something at last from what I’ve been up to (cross-posted from CPP):

Finally, a release!

Above is a screenshot of our first, very beta release of euhackathon.chokepointproject.net

It was put together for the 1st EUhackathon held in Brussels on November 8th & 9th 2011. It’s a prototype, a proof of concept. Here’s the ‘About’ from the release site:

What we did:

We built this test version of a planned larger platform using broadband statistics provided by Measurement Lab (M-Lab) and the Transparency Reports published by Google. The former contains continuous information about the Internet speed at various locations in the world. By analyzing this data, we can estimate the Internet connectivity status for the countries and cities covered by the data.

Our main aim has been working to build a platform to give people a tool to know what’s happening in their country now and over the historical period, augmented with information on law and lobbying activities. We created a branch of our application for the hackathon and this is the result of 1,5 days work.

Some use of dummy data:

The landing page of this example app is displaying dummy data for the current incidents listed under the map. It’s there to give you an idea of what this application could become. Obviously getting radar jamming data is a completely different from monitoring internet traffic.

We need more data:

If you know of relevant data sets either historical or dynamic that you think would benefit this project, please let us know. Real-time, yes, we know that will kinda of important, don’t you think?

Team for the hackday: Chris Pinchen, Ruben Bloemgarten, James Burke, Simon Funke, Florian Rathgeber, Javier Arturo Rodríguez

Release notes

This release has two objectives: to visualise the M-Lab & Google Transparency data and to show what we are working towards with the ChokePoint Project.

Drilling down

On opening euhackathon.chokepointproject.net the visitor will see the map with clickable red “incident” indicators, a link to info about the country they are viewing from, and dummy data for the current incidents listed under the map (see the image above). Clicking on the “What’s the state of the Internet in (viewers country)?” or the red indicators on the map will open a page for that place.

The page by default opens with the Transparency data visible. Clicking the pointer next to each incident will reveal more information about that incident.  Clicking on the pointer next to the Connectivy Status category will open  a drop down where the M-Lab data can be explored.

[gfa] A story worth telling

gfa

When I first met Ana, she didn't tell me that both of her grandfathers had been in prison after the civil war in Spain. That's understandable, but when I first visited her parents place, there was a framed yellowing newspaper article on the wall which was unavoidable. And it spoke of her grandfather, of his time in a dungeon in Venezuela, and then the rest of the story came out. More or less. Because there are an incredible amount of contradictions in the story, but it is a story well worth telling. So after many years, and false starts, we've begun investigating, and now we have the tools to tell thae story as we go along.

Here's the introduction Ana has written on the "project" blog:

Tenemos una tendencia a mejorar nuestros recuerdos, a cambiar los hechos a nuestra conveniencia, no es mal intencionado pero cuando hablamos de un pariente explicamos nuestra versión, y no nos preocupa, demasiado, la veracidad. Si le queremos solo explicamos las cosas buenas y sino ya sabemos que hacemos…

Me gusta escuchar a mis padres explicar historias de nuestra familia, pero como los dos son hijos únicos acaban pronto. Pero hay una historia que siempre ha captado mi interés, la vida de mi abuelo paterno, un hombre que siendo muy joven emigró a América, que estuvo diez años en una mazmorra venezolana, que salió de esta porque le dieron por muerto y le tiraron a los cocodrilos, que le robaron su fortuna, que regresó a España, que lo encarcelaron durante tres años al final de la Guerra Civil , que contrajo matrimonio en artículo mortis, y que como él dijo en una entrevista: "lo que no pude desde entonces es huir de aquel recuerdo…, huir de mí…"

Mi interés por saber qué sucedió, dónde ocurrió y por qué, me ha llevado hasta aquí.

[en]

We have a tendency to improve our memories, to change the facts to our liking, it is not malicious but when we speak of a relative we explain our version, we are not  too concerned about the truth. If we liked the person we just explain the good things and if not, well, you know …

I like listening to my parents tell stories of our family, but as both are only children the stories end soon. But there is a story that has always captured my interest, the life of my grandfather, who as a very young man emigrated to America, spent ten years in a dungeon in Venezuela, who came out of this because he was thought  dead and thrown to crocodiles, who had his fortune stolen, who returned to Spain, was imprisoned for three years at the end of the Civil War, who married in articulo mortis on his deathbed, and as he said in an interview, "what I could not do from then on was escape this memory… run from myself …"

My interest in knowing what happened, where it happened and why has led me here.

Kapow! It's the Cataspanglish Summer Special!

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Back in the prehistoric period that was my childhood I used to spend my summer pocket money on these "summer special" comics (images taken from this great post on the subject by Lew Stringer). And this summer feels just like one of them, so much stuff crammed in within the covers – so I just wanted to recap a little what's happening in the world of cataspanglish…

Right now we're up to our eyeballs in PodCamp Barcelona 2010 which takes place in El Masnou, September 13-18. Instead of following the format of the last two years and making it easy on ourselves, clever cataspanglish decided to change the format, adding some workshops to give back, through our knowledge, something to the good folks of El Masnou who bankroll the event. We also decided to limit the number of "presentations" and, at the suggestion of @Moof who is working on PodCamp with us this year along with @pdavenne, make the afternoon part of the "main" day of PodCamp Barcelona an after-lunch discussion forum based on the "sobremesa" – the long, leisurely after-lunch, over coffee and liqueurs chats around the table typical of Spain.

Moof and myself had discussed this kind of event idea after attending the 1pound40 conference held by Amplified in London late last year. Much of the thinking about PodCamp Barcelona 2010 has been inspired by the concepts of Sue Thomas and Toby Moores about participation, involvement & creativity which they experiment on through Amplified projects, and conversations with Steve Lawson and Lucy Windmill who came over to PodCamp Barcelona last year. I'd say that what we bring to that (and which complicates everything intensely), is our intent to create the conditions for real time, genuine but informal communication to take place but amongst people expressing themselves in different languages simultaneously. We have the speaker on the podium simultaneous translation thing down, but how can we extend the peer sharing of knowledge and ideas in a real time multilingual context? Maybe through transliteracy?  We'll keep you posted on the results of our experiment and if you've got any thoughts, please share them in the comments.

The other big issue, and one we haven't had the resources to deal with this year, is that of inclusion of disabled and deaf people. We have added a plugin on the Spanish website which reads the posts (need to find one those for Catalan and English too), but the budget didn't stretch to having sign language and attempts to get volunteers has (so-far) failed…

Whew! this getting too damn long for a single comic strip so I'm going to have to use that great expression "to be continued…"

Blam! (update)
Can't believe I forgot to include the Tweetlation real-time tweet translation that Moof set up at PodCamp Barcelona 2009 and which he and Patrick are going to be running this year. Check out Can you tweetlate?

cataspanglish

cataspanglish is a project by Ana and Chris to use the Internet to further teaching and communication.
Currently cataspangish is producing the slow spain podcast and Montse guitar sessions.

 
In January 2008 we will be launching two new projects – a specialised intensive online course for advanced learners of English and an online course for new learners of English which will seek to use the Internet to overcome the problems of balancing work, studies and domestic life so prevalent in Spain. 

Chris also produces a resource “blog” for his English students here and is beginning to blog about his relationship with technology at Luddgeek.
Ana blogs about her favourite obsession at El Porqué de los Zapatos