So what is this "Quest For Paid Work"?

I’ve been doing a series of interviews for Edgerydersa joint project of the Council of Europe and the European Commission, led by the Social Cohesion Research and Early Warning Division at the Council of Europe. I’ve been investigating how people make a living on the edge, or if they do at all – very pertinent (and personal). Here’s what I was working on:

How can people make a living on the edge as technologies change quicker than regulations and new business models disrupt old standards? While young (and not so young) people are defining a new society through their networked interactions and processes, often the obstacles to their ability to make a living are bureaucratic or outdated ways of doing.

The Edgeryders platform is organised through a series of “campaigns”  linked to specific areas of the work of the Social Cohesion Research and Early Warning Division. These campaigns are made up of “mission reports” written by members of the community which are then studied by ethnographers working on the project. The Quest For Paid Work is part of the Making A Living campaign which examines issues around employment.

My brief was to identify people who have experience in the area and share their stories with the wider community, looking for common methodologies, tools and tactics. The people spoke for themselves in the videos and I did summaries of the interviews in language appropriate to the members of the community who mostly have English as a second or third tongue. The videos were not meant to be professional quality but rather quick & dirty, using the resources and bandwidth available, to capture the reality of how technology is used (and sometimes fails). All the videos are in this playlist below and you can read all of my posts here.

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.

A Dance for the Republic (and other uses for blogs)

637_un-ball-per-la-republica5

So one day way back last summer, my friend Pep tells me about this book he’s recently published, Un ball per la República, which is the story of the Spanish Civil War and the Republic in the village of Alcampell where he grew up. And so we get talking and I ask if he’s going to do an English version, but he says it’s impossible because it’s published by a small Catalan publisher, and I suggest blogging about the book and, you know, making it more than a “book”, with hyperlinks and maps & photos and all the sorts of stuff that a small publisher can’t afford to do, even if they had the vision. Pep loved the idea and A Dance for the Republic was born.

I’m sure “the author” will excuse me for saying that he had a very linear & chronological approach to writing and it took him a few meetings to get his read around the idea of using the blog structure as a platform, the use of categories etc. Check it out if you’re at all interested in the subject matter or how an “online book” can work.

#ict4rd

Ricard Espelt is well known to visitors of this blog for both his role as councillor for new technology in the village of Copons, as well as interviews & posts for TalkingAbout. Right now Ricard is doing a Phd on technology & rural communities and I’ve been helping him a little on his English language blog which he describes as:

“This blog is a platform to communicate with the rural communities and develop a research space for my Phd. My intention is to  use this blog to help my Personal Learning Environment to find more connections and more dialogues with the rural-local researchers.”

So here we have blog repurposed as a publicly available academic research document and communication vehicle. Check it out here

[gfa]

[gfa] is the working title of a blog which we are using to document the investigation into the fascinating and obscure of life of Ana’s grandfather, Gerardo Fernández Agüadero. Read the post about it here or go to the blog itself

Mind playing tricks I guess

Bloody hell – not a thing posted on here since last August! Why do I always have the impression that everything is being documented…well I guess it is on the myriad blogs we have for individual stuff and twitter of course. Ok – so we've been doing LOADS of stuff and there's a whole BUNCH of things we're working on, so I'll try and get them down in the next few days…

Kapow! It’s the Cataspanglish Summer Special! Pt.2/In the City

One of the most interesting things we've been involved in this year was the Do 1002 Systems/Layers Walkshop Barcelona with Adam Greenfield and Nurri Kim. As usual, I've haven't had time to post about it but I've been ruminating on it ever since. The walkshop was pretty well documented – the videos above are by one of the walkers, Marc Pous and there's a lot of stuff on the quick & dirty blog put together by Enric and myself. I've got to finish uploading photos and adding details to the map of the route and you can find my pre-gig post here.

For some time now we at Cataspanglish have been discussing the usefulness (or otherwise) of event formats. Whereas more & more things online are getting geolocated & locally contextualised, so-called knowledge sharing events continue to operate in a void, as if there were some kind of universal truths which operate everywhere. A typical example of this is the references to FixMyStreet made by many speakers over the last year without (usually) exploring the local conditions, history and culture of the UK or (in this case) Spain/Catalonia and why the public are more likely to participate in this sort of project in one place than another.

Another issue is the amount of time & effort which finding & negotiating the use of a suitable venue and infrastructure, such as wifi and power supply, requires. Again, to us this is beginning to seem redundant when public spaces are increasingly connected. Back when I was a dirty squatter,  the lack of physical space/housing & constant moving meant serious organisational problems for the squatting movement, as nearly all the time was spent in just getting a roof over your head. While the housing crisis remains, what has changed is the ability to organise things in public spaces – as has been demonstrated in a rather overkill way by the Breakout events, but exists in an everyday, workaday way in coworking in cafes etc. Also lessons have been learned (by us at least) from the concentration on the building as a space of Citilab instead of Citilab as a collection of concepts & ideas.

Kapow!

Yeah, yeah – but what does it all mean?

It means that through participating in the walkshop and all of the above, we are going to start doing events in public spaces using available infrastructure. Will we do more "Camps"? Well, we've got one up our sleeves, but we want to explore this new idea, so the the next cataspanglish "event" is going to be somewhere in downtown Barcelona and it's going to be a kind of mashup inspired by the walkshop, subtlemob and Hannah Nicklin's "The Smell of Rain Remind Me of You". The theme? The City of course…Watch this space

Here's a video about subtlemob's "As If it Were The Last Time"

[blip.tv http://blip.tv/play/gfEZga_3MQI%2Em4v%5D

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?

PodCamp Barcelona 2010

els vienesos

Well it's hot and sticky in Barcelona & while the country is closed, we're busy preparing PodCamp Barcelona 2010 – the post below is cross-posted from the PodCamp Barcelona site:

PodCamp Barcelona 2010 will take place in El Masnou from September 13 to September 18th. Yes, that's right, five days of PodCamp Barcelona  — because this year we have a new venue, a new format and a theme: community. PodCamp Barcelona has always been about community — in fact, the original idea of the event was to create a community out of the various people and projects using what could loosely be termed "web 2.0". But this year, the theme is going to be more explicit and for this reason we have decided to change the format.

So what's going to happen in El Masnou from September 13 to September 18?

From Monday, September 13 to Thursday, September 16 there will be workshops every evening. The idea of these workshops is to give back to the people of Masnou through our knowledge. If you want to run a workshop at PodCamp Barcelona, please contact us.

Friday and Saturday will be different however. Friday evening will see two sessions and a wine tasting. Saturday will have four sessions in the morning and after lunch, a sobremesa where each table will be able to discuss, provide ideas and conclusions about each of the six community sessions. The idea is to get everybody to participate whether they are presenting or not, and to crowd source ideas to further develop the six communities presented. Of course, there will be another winetasting after the sobremesa session, and possibly a concert by musicians who use social media in their work. If you wish to lead a community session please contact us.

The conclusions from the community sessions will be filmed and put on the TalkingAbout platform where the debate can continue.

There will also be a Speaker's Corner where anybody will be able to present any project they want. The presentations at Speaker's Corner will also be filmed and posted online. If you want to present in Speaker's Corner please contact us.

All of this will take place as in a brand new building in El Masnou, Els Vienesos, gracias once again to the fantastic participation of El Masnou council in PodCamp Barcelona. We hope that PodCamp Barcelona 2010 will enable more people to participate in the debate and lead to practical conclusions for ongoing community activity.

Oh yes, and one more thing: this year there are two new members in the PodCamp Barcelona team – welcome aboard @pdavenne and @moof Bring it on!