The Includer stays alive, as an idea, thanks to last year’s Knight News Challenge. At the Las Vegas awards ceremony, I told one of the judges, maybe I got lucky? He assured me that I won because my idea was original. A billion people live within walking distance to the Internet, but there is no device for them, no Includer, so that they might read and write emails at home onto a USB flash drive, and then upload and download them once a week at an Internet cafe.
I love to workopenly. The Knight News Challenge has us publicly share our proposals. Hundreds of them are pouring in today, the last day. How many of them are original ideas? Myself, I don’t care. I have no shortage of ideas. Out of context, they are worthless. Instead, I am looking for context. Wealth is relationships. How can we build relationships? How might we include the unincluded, the people who are “out of the loop”? Isn’t that how we create wealth?
I have sifted through a few hundred of the proposals. I hope they aren’t taken down. I’ve noted the ones that I believe create context. I left comments. I wish them luck. I hope they might consider working together, working for free, alongside each other, so that our endeavors might evolve together, and we grow together as well. This is the logic of my Minciu Sodas laboratory for independent thinkers. (Write to me at [email protected] !)
The News Challenge website leaves it unclear, who are the authors of the proposals? which frustrates our chances to work together. I am trying even so because tomorrow they may all be dashed, like sand at a beach.
I am moved by all efforts in faraway places.
- I leap at the thought of a Tehran Bureau (please link with our blogger Sahar Maranlou).
- Michael Bengwayan’s Agri-Eco E-Centers Philippines advances Franz Nahrada’s vision of Global Villages (please join his working group!)
- Davis Weddi (active at our lab!) proposes a mobile phone notice board for an urban slum and a rural district in Uganda. And previous Knight News Challenge winners similarly propose African Village Reporters Project. Might we work together?
- Timothy McGinnis, also of Uganda, proposes a website about Internet access in Africa, please see Pamela McLean’s working group Learning From Each Other, Fred Kayiwa’s One Reaching Another, and Ricardo’s pages about Internet access.
- The Smallholders Farmers Rural Radio in Imo, Nigeria, please note that Pamela travels often to Nigeria and also Janet Feldman of Holistic Helping is always interested in community radio.
- Empowering Education in Rural India using the World Wide Web by an engineer in West Bengal, please note our thinkers Surya Rao Maturu and Umesh Rashmi Rohatgi and Edward Cherlin’s working group Earth Treasury to support and expand the vision of One Laptop Per Child.
- Colombia – The Friends Of My Friends Are My Friends will make transparent the social network that runs Colombia.
- University of Culiacan students in Mexico (our lab is assembling in Spanish)
I note two projects in Chicago, a city which wouldn’t be accepted into NATO, where forty-nine of fifty aldermen belong to the same party, there is a depopulation of Black American neighborhoods which I say is ethnic cleansing, and citizens accept it all as normal, “the city that works”. WindyCitizen.com is A Crowd-Powered Front Page For Chicago and LISC proposes Chicago Neighborhood News Bureau. How can we all work together, in the Public Domain, and reach out to include thinkers such as David Ellison-Bey, as is Charles Williams?
At our lab, Kennedy Owino, Mark Roest, Janet Feldman, Wendi Losha Bernadette and Benoit Couture have stirred to reach out to the Differently Abled. I am stirred by several proposals which reach out to specific groups:
- Barry Shell proposes Lab Direct: giving graduate students a voice Graduate students will transform how we think about science by sharing thier work-in-progress by video.
- The children of the London Olympics will have us Think 2012.
- Walter Bender of Sugar Labs proposes Gray Matters: Bringing community expression to the elderly.
Several projects cultivate the sharing of content. How might we share people?
- David Adewumi proposes Heekya: Wikipedia for Stories — social storytelling for metros and locales. A great idea – I note our lab’s work on My Food Story.
- The Open Government Project (google for government) inspired by Barack Obama.
- Nir Ofir of Israel proposes IAMNEWS.COM, an open newsroom platform providing tools for realtime crowdsourced news creation.
- In Search of Heroes – Connecting individuals to the world highlights local heroes, just like our independent thinkers!
- The Committee to Democratize Information Technology, founded by Rodrigo Baggio Barreto, wants to leverage its network of 753 schools in Brazil and Latin America to develop a social networking architecture relevant for people with limited Internet access. Certainly relevant for our Includer. I note my 2003 proposal for a Social Networking Kit optimized for marginal Internet connectivity.
- Micah Fink, Michael Hickey and a score of advisers, including architect Kazys Varnelis, propose a story map approach to integrate multiple perspectives on the mortgage crisis.
- Scott Polk proposes WorldSafe Disaster Management and Alert System, a Drupal system for municipal emergency workers inspired by his work to help refugees from Hurricane Katrina.
- Max Mayfield, the former director of the National Hurricane Center, and Bryan Norcross, the former hurricane analyst for CBS News, propose AEN – The Community Emergency Communications System to distribute text and video feeds by satellite whenever local communications fail.
- Jeffrey Hunt, an attorney, proposes a wireless Help Network to serve the marginalized – the homeless, mentally ill, drug addicts, the poor – to encourage just-in-time, positive interaction with support teams.
The Knight News Challenge is learning how to support open culture. This year all proposals were expected to be public. The Garage provided public support. Perhaps some day soon the review process will likewise be open and public. I wish the content was all straight and out Public Domain, rather than the worst-of-breed “share alike” Creative Commons license, which is incompatible with the Public Domain.
Open culture is the interplay of open people rather than open ideas. I proposed an idea, but actually, I proposed to bring it to life. I and my team didn’t win funding to build Includers. Instead, I won the chance to blog about them at the PBS Idealab website. But what is the point of blogging about a one-year-old idea? My challenge is to link together those who care and bring to life something new. The challenge I bring to the Knight Foundation is to call for knights – for champions – for includers, rather than for ideas like the Includer.