Our field has discovered that mobile phones are useful tools for collecting data in the field. As a result, there is an abundance of mobile data collection applications and projects. Unlike bulk messaging and general information services that are
This entry is part four in the series, "The XO Files: I Want to Believe in the XO" Read Part I here, then Part II, The New 4PC Market, and its Failings, and Part III: Re-imagining the OLPC Distribution.
The XO Files Part IV: New Years Resolutions for 1CC
The XO Files: I Want To Believe
To (finally) close up my "I want to believe" series on how things went wrong, and how things could go very right with the OLPC dream, let me offer some resolutions for the Foundation to consider for 2009.
I will decide on a mission statement
That is, "I will accept that OLPC is and has always been a laptop project, not an education project". And that's OK, if presented as such. The world needs a laptop like the XO, and it can still help improve education. But let's agree that the XO is a laptop and not an education miracle, and treat it as such - a wonderfully well-designed and flexible tool that can be used in many contexts in international development projects and in more quotidian ways as well. This opens up more "markets" for the XO, widens the potential scope, and creates a much larger and diverse user-base who can benefit from and contribute back to the ongoing development of the XO.
I will stop overreaching
This is the continuation of my journal on getting mapping to work for Global Youth Service Day in Drupal, which starts with an overview of maps and drupal, and continues with a discussion of modules, then talks about getting content into the map.
Remember back in Part II where I mentioned the Views and Panels module?
Views gives you very precise control over what shows up on new maps you can show up. Even better, use can create "arguments" that can be passed through the URL to further define what shows up. For example, I created a view whose base URL was /gysd/map/ -- if you go there, you get a listing of years to choose from (do you want to see events from GYSD 2008? GYSD 2009?) If you click on 2008, the url is now /gysd/map/2008 - and you see all the events for that year. I then created some other map options to list by country, state, and so on, so there's another path that goes like this: /gysd/map-by-location/2008/us/FL . If I cut that one off at 2008/, I'd see a listing of all the countries I had data for. If I cut it at us/ , I'd see all the regions (states) with data. You could also set a map up with zip codes, taxonomies, and so on. Drupal 6's Views2 is an order of magnitude more powerful that Views1, and alone it's a reason to upgrade to D6.
To create a map view, you have to first (after installing the views modules above, and creating a new view) select GMap View from the Page view set of options (under View Type). This enables the map functionality. I put information into the Header section to guide users in the navigation process.
People always come to me for advice on computers and technology options over the giftmas season. To head this off somewhat at the pass, let me remind everyone that my advice from the end of last year's season still stands: get a Mac. Really.
It's been a while since I posted on my Drupal Mapping project, and that's partially because I've been spending some time getting a great site that aggregates and re-publishes news for the volunteer service world together at ServiceWire.org using Drupal 6, FeedAPI, Views, and some other fun tricks - you can follow it on Twitter at @ServiceWire - it posts about once an hour or so with news about volunteer service and service-learning.
Anyhow, my experience working with D6 and the newest Views module have convinced me that as long as most of the tools I need for the map are available on D6, it's time to move. So I'm rebuilding from scratch (bad luck with upgrades of recent, and I'd like to apply and cement my recently gained knowledge). Unfortunately, the Node_import module - key to a lot of the testing I want to do on the map and views - is not quite ready, so I'm waiting for that to release an update that works with Location and CCK, and in a holding pattern until then.
Initial reports are now showing up on news sites; this very light-on-details article on BBC seems to be the first up on major news sites - but it's been burning up the SMS and immediate-update "microblog" site, Twitter, for over an hour.
We're seeing a human tragedy and the slow emergence of an amazingly powerful social tool - real time citizen reporting. People are sending in reports, pictures, and videos of on-the-ground events as they unfold, scooping all major news sources - because what traditional media outlet could possibly keep up with a reaction time measured merely by the speed of information?
Old media has a never-ending struggle to maintain its relevance - this is going to be big. Where were you when "CNN Headline News" became outdated?
Update Speaking of CNN being outdated; Global Voices now has an article on Mumbai up, based largely on Twitter sources
For the past year or so, I've repeatedly been trying to bring up what I see as a huge, gaping hole in any project which uses Microsoft products for an ICT4Development rollout - computer viruses. Windows XP, when connected to the Internet sans protection, lasts as few as four minutes before becoming infected, and rarely more than a day. Multiply that by hundreds of thousands of OLPC XOs running Windows (with no mention of anti-virus software to date), and you have a nightmare scenario pretty rapidly.
The much-debated VitalWave TCO paper we discussed at the World Bank, which argued that the higher cost of Linux administrators balanced out licensing costs for discounted Microsoft and anti-virus software, even admitted the significant costs of purchasing and maintaining a subscription to anti-virus tools
If Microsoft wants to continue to capture the developing world market, this is going to be a barrier. They can drop their own licensing costs for the XP Starter Edition (which at this point is zero cost to them) down, and hand out older Office software; but the initial and subscription costs for anti-virus software are not (directly) under MS's control. Regardless, having anti-virus protection directly impacts the functionality of the device - if installed, A-V can slow a less powerful computer down to a crawl during a scan and at startup, but the consequences of not having it can render the system absolutely useless.
So it comes as little surprise that Microsoft has announced a free anti-virus software for XP and Vista that targets lower-powered systems (cough, like the OLPC?) to address both these problems and lower the cost barrier for adopting MS:
So now we have the basic setup and are ready to start on the map - placeholders for content, maps, and actual content, and it's time to forge ahead with improving the user experience and information architecture (at the same time, even!).
I also just came across another blog article at around the same level of detail that covers other aspects of Drupal, which I haven't touched on much here for a more articles-rich site. Check it out: http://dejitarob.wordpress.com/2007/11/26/how-i-used-drupal-to-build-ta… . Along similar lines, I stumbled across a series by IBM that gives a surprisingly clear overview of the next level in to Drupal geekery, without flooding you with information: http://www.ibm.com/developerworks/ibm/library/i-osource5/
Come by for a lively discussion on TCO (that I get to start out!)
From the world bank:
A World Bank ICT and Education Community of Interest Discussion, in coordination
the e-Development Thematic Group, infoDev and the DC-based Technology Salon
How much does it really cost to introduce and sustain computers in schools?
Total Cost of Ownership (TCO): A Study of Models of Affordable Computing for
Schools in Developing Countries