Category Archives: Mashups

Thoughts on a NetSquared trophy

Photo of Net2 trophy, printed using 3d printerThe trophy pictured here is more than what it seems.

It shows the potential for us as global citizens to share good ideas and practical tools to make the world a better place. Anyone with a 3-D printer and crafty fingers can print off and construct the trophy.

Designed by MBau3d in Guatemala, the trophy was handed out at the recent Central America and Mexico NetSquared regional netcamp. The STL (STereoLithography) files needed have been generously shared by mBau3d.

While I’ve heard stories about printing prosthetics, pumps and plastic parts, it wasn’t until I unzipped the 900KB folder and saw the actual files for the trophy that I realised how easily technology could be transferred.

Now code alone isn’t enough. Knowhow and confidence are crucial. A framework like Creative Commons to ensure intellectual property is respected is helpful. But without trust and a sense of affinity between people, nothing will be freely offered to others.

That’s why international movements such as NetSquared are so important: they foster sharing, both locally and globally. When we get together with others a lot is possible: we can learn about what is possible, inspire and support one another, and share what we know.

The 50 #net2 active groups are meeting all the time (see “Together we’re strong”). For those of us in Aotearoa, there are some upcoming opportunities to participate.

NetSquared Wellington is coming up to it’s second birthday, 18 meetups down the track. In June we are talking: Advocacy – how can using a digital soap box work for you?

The Auckland Net2 meetup group will resume meeting again on Tuesday 8 July, with Vivian Chandra and Stuart Young taking co-leadership. The title of the upcoming meetup asks it all “#net2aklREVIVE : So what is #tech4good anyway?”

For anyone interested in setting up a NetSquared group in Christchurch or Dunedin, you’re welcome to join a conversation with me and others next month:

  1. 5.30pm Wednesday 16 July, Joe’s Garage, 7 Leslie St, Upper Riccarton, Christchurch
  2. 12.15pm Thursday 17 July, Dunedin Community House, 301 Moray Place, Dunedin. RSVP/ details

While using the web and other technology gives us a reason to meet, it’s the possibility of working together where the real promise lies.

I’m looking forward to the day when someone turns up to a meetup to show us how to print out a trophy. Or perhaps something of our own design.

CAD file showing 3d printer file

Mbau3d: “We share the trophy that will be delivered in #netsquaredgt the best project 🙂
EDIT: downloadable files source of this trophy in the link below!”

Where can I find a meeting room?

Sign saying "Quiet please, meeting in progress" by Ed YourdonWith so many entrepreneurs and start-ups going gung-ho developing Apps for this, that and the other. And with gazillions of bits of web content created every hour or is it now every minute. You’d think I’d be able to find an up-to-date and useful list of meeting venues in Wellington.

It seems every single time I begin thinking where to hold an event I start from scratch. Not only have I attended a few events in my time, I’ve printed out details and scored the odd promotional folder.

I can never remember the details, and I’ve lost all my notes and pieces of paper. So, I start from scratch. Enter into the Google search box: “Meeting venue”. Hit “Enter”.

Sigh! Up come the familiar list of websites: Venue Hire, Corporate Events Guide, Wellington City Council community directory, Hire it Now.

None of the lists are complete. Some are extremely dated and need to be refreshed, replaced or nuked (are you listening WCC?). Interspersed amongst places suitable for humble gatherings, are many catering for weddings and cocktail parties, and for those with bulging budgets.

It’s not only time a consuming process to find suitable options, but generally the lists shine little light on venues suitable for the modest budgets of those working in civil society or in third sector organisations.

After narrowing down potential options, then begins the laborious process of finding one that is free and affordable. I won’t mention who wanted $695 for a short after-work session. This is one I politely declined using, even though it was available.

So, I wonder, is there a better way.

Can the crowd perhaps step forward? Is there enough in this idea for people to help co-create a public list? A list that has useful categories or keywords for event types. Perhaps ratings as well as facts. How about a dash of panache – I can’t think if there is any reason for all these lists to be so damn drab.

The idea of listing things on the web is a path well trod. The subject matter may be different, but the notion of collectively creating lists has been around since the early days of the Internet.

Nobody I know would ever want to take responsibility for such a burden as keeping a list up-to-date, myself included.

Yet, I wonder if updating tasks are small and discrete. And the values of accumulated data high. Perhaps, just perhaps, this could take-off. It’d be easier enough to start with a wiki editable by anyone. There could be a template for each venue (one per page), keywords, and an index.

Before I do anymore thinking, I’ll wonder out loud: do others experience the same sort of hassles finding rooms for events? Or is everyone is super organised and keeps really good records themselves?

While I ponder on whether this is a problem unique to me and whether some budding entrepreneur may like to tackle this challenge, I’ve got some preparation to do for the Wellington NGO webmaster event I’m hosting tomorrow night. It’s time to do some baking.

Photo credit: Ed Yourdon

More on mapping gardens and kai

The idea I had of listing community gardens around the country wasn’t a novel one (see the nascent plotting community gardens wiki I started). At almost exactly the same time I started out, the folk at Good magazine created a Google map listing all the community gardens they could find. Spooky.

I haven’t found the time to list many gardens as yet. So I was pleased to see the map created by Yu Sin Khoo, a designer at Good magazine’s publishers, has got off to a good start. Already listed are 29 community gardens, and four people have signed up as collaborators. I’ve decided to join as one of them and delete my Google map (once I find out how).

It’s just one of several similar maps I’ve heard of in the last few weeks.

In Christchurch there is a treasure map for the city, displaying information about foraging throughout the city area which are publicly accessible. Started in June 2009 the Otautahi Urban Foraging map has already had over 25,000 views. Anyone can add to it.

Closer to home, is the Edible Wellington – A Gatherer’s Guide map. Wild parsley, plum trees and rosemary are some of the plants listed. Once again the map is open to collaboration by anyone. 42 collective have started at least one other map to help guide people to living sustainably in Wellington.

For Wellingtonian’s eager to talk about foraging and similar practices, the Underground Fruit Economy facebook group might appeal. The level of interaction is extremely modest despite the virtual interest of 198 members – too busy fossicking for kai I suspect.

Debate is definitely happening on Kiwiblog, where the idea of free information about free food seemed to have broad appeal (see “Great initiative”, 25 August 2009). Of course somebody had to raise some spurious analysis about the operation of the market economy along the lines of “if you’re altruistic, you’re not being rationale”.

More maps coming soon I suspect. Hopefully with lots of people joining in to make them. If you know about a community garden, get in touch so you can be listed.

Plotting community gardens

View Community gardens in Aotearoa New Zealand in a larger map

See the map above, well I’d like your help to add to it. As part of some research I’m doing for an article on community gardening I want to know what is happening around Aotearoa New Zealand.

By the looks of things there is a lot. Already I’ve counted well over 30 community gardens, some of which are listed in my delicious community gardens bookmarks.

I need help to expand the list. And specifically, to find out exactly where the gardens are. Mapping the gardens using a Google map has more visual appeal than a bald list. Plus updating is something that can be shared with others. Anyone who joins in can have a few debates dilemmas involved in mapping.

To capture and record the giant list and any collective knowledge about NZ community gardens I’ve also set up the Plot Your Community Garden wiki. This will include the constantly updated map (I hope) and any other stuff people want to share. When I say “jump in and create your own page, or add a new resource”, I mean it.

I’m secretly hoping that by listing gardens people will get in touch with others for tips, lessons, share joys and lows. And perhaps create some pressure for John Key to follow in the footsteps of Michelle Obama and turn-over some turf at the prime ministerial digs to a garden.

If you want to help you can:

  1. Send me an email with a street address (or coordinates) and a photo of your community garden. I’ll add this to the map. Email: If you’re happy having contact details shared let me know. Or
  2. Contact me for details of how to edit the Google map pictured below and you can add information about a community garden yourself. Or
  3. Add details to the giant list of community gardens page.

Who will be the first to list?

PS Please spread the word about this to anyone who is interested. Later I’ll ask for help via Facebook, Social Invovation Camp, Transition Towns and Twitter.

Citizen reporting: biking in Christchurch

A few weeks ago, Josh Campbell posted a short video to You Tube showing some of the dangers of cycling to work, called Biking in Christchurch. (Warning: content may offend!!)

It’s not churlish, buffoonery, like the horrible tv reality programmes. But deadly serious. The 2 minute 57 second video records many near misses. It’s enough to give you second thoughts about cycling.

Now, the story doesn’t end there. Just a week after being posted on You Tube, and propagated through various networks (including by Dave who I met with today), Josh was on national tv talking about his experiences. On 10 March the TVNZ Close Up programme featured a clip on Cyclists v motorists.

Scary as the ‘experience’ from Josh’s handlebars is, I really like the fact that it’s not words or analysis, but a visual story. With no commentary or soundtrack I’m not manipulated into any particular reaction.

So, take one short video by one person freely hosted on You Tube and you get lots of people talking about a serious issue. Helmets off to Josh.