A short reminder to myself... Nice post about relearning to unplug our lives - which I am obviously not doing on this German holiday today (I blame it on the bad weather outside...).

Democracy in action?

Not a new story, but a great roundup in Rolling Stone magazine summarizing the election fraud in 2004.

...The issue of what happened in 2004 is not an academic one. Forthe second election in a row, the president of the United Stateswas selected not by the uncontested will of the people but under acloud of dirty tricks. Given the scope of the GOP machinations, wesimply cannot be certain that the right man now occupies the OvalOffice -- which means, in effect, that we have been deprived of ourfaith in democracy itself.

American history is littered with vote fraud -- but rather thanlearning from our shameful past and cleaning up the system, we haveallowed the problem to grow even worse. If the last two electionshave taught us anything, it is this: The single greatest threat toour democracy is the insecurity of our voting system. If peoplelose faith that their votes are accurately and faithfully recorded,they will abandon the ballot box. Nothing less is at stake herethan the entire idea of a government by the people.

Voting, as Thomas Paine said, ''is the right upon which allother rights depend.'' Unless we ensure that right, everything elsewe hold dear is in jeopardy.

If reports like this are running on America's entertainment media, like Rolling Stone magazine, the Comedy Channel or MTV, do I give applause for where the entertainment industry is headed to or worry deeper about the state of independant journalism?

Hands-on electronic mapping

Two things that I recently discovered would be a great fit for using mapping tools with a live audience, maybe in a community mapping exercise. First, I think Google Earth has an incredible potential to present spatial data and analysis to a broader, non-technical audience. Atlas Gloves would actually enable us to let this audience explore scenarios in a playfull way.

Atlas Gloves is a DIY physical interface for controlling 3D mapping applications like Google Earth.The user interface is a pair of illuminating gloves that can be used totrack intuitive hand gestures like grabbing, pulling, reaching androtating. The Open Source Atlas Gloves application can be downloadedfor free and operated using a webcam and two self-madeilluminating gloves (or flashlights).

watch the demo...

Second, at the science night in Berlin , I discovered AR (augmented reality), and after researching it further, I was surprised, that this isn't bigger in the urban planning community. Just have a look at this impressive example from the gaming community.

Take a good, long look at this clip from Total Immersion.It's an early piece that talks about the early stages of totalimmersion, where gamers can wield objects and place them into areality-based stage in a video game, such as moving a car around orcreating landscapes out of thin air. Of course, one could see this as amere Sim City-style gimmick, but the fact you'll be able to interact with in a gameplay fashion puts a whole new twist. In fact, a new Sim City where you can create your own utopia with a few waves of the hand and taps of the button

Spectrum of Participation

Just found this great post from Ross Mayfield, drawing the spectrum of online participation. At a point, where the whole blogging discussion becomes repetitive, this is great work of putting the different elements of online participation into perspective.

The problem is, users only have so much time for social software.

GoogleSketchup for free!

This is huge! The internet goes 3D. Google yesterday released a free version of sketchup, enabling anybody to build 3D Models and publish them online, preferrably in their Google Earth browser. Not only that, Google also announced a 3D warehouse where users can upload and share their content, adding descriptions to make them searchable via Google.

AECnews.com mentions: The new triad of Google Earth, Google SketchUp and 3D Warehouse willquickly become the center of wide variety of public-participationprojects and marketing campaigns, as well as the usual Internettomfoolery.

Google now offers all three of the keys making it possible fornon-professionals to create and share 3D content. They have anaccessible (fun, actually) authoring tool in Google SketchUp, a placeto share the content in 3D Warehouse, and a way to find the content inthe Google search engine.

Time to start thinking 3D...

Berliner Mauer 1

Here comes a little introduction to the Berlin Wall, close to where I live. GPS Photography, displayed in GE and Gmaps. I found that GE is actually slightly more exact than Gmaps. More than half the points are exactly where the pictures were taken.

Berlin Wall, Bernauer Strasse in GoogleMaps

Berlin Wall, Bernauer Strasse in GoogleEarth

At Zebralog, we have a participatory project coming up in that area. More on that coming soon...

Democracy 3.0?

Recently I have been diving into a completely different sphere - an online world called secondlife. I never really paid much attention to this large movement, until I ran into this paper by Wagner James Au, that was putting the movement into the context of the internet of the future.

Many of these projects capitalize on academic research that seems to validate the sense people familiar with MMOs already grasp intuitively: the experience of one's alter ego being in an immersive space is experientially different from any other kind of Net

Analyzing Visual Impacts

I just ran into a nice example showing off Google Earth's abilities to analyze visual impacts on the Ogle Earth Blog:

New York hasn't been home to the world's tallest buildingsince 1974, when the title went from One World Trade Center toChicago's Sears Tower. Since then, it's shifted to the Petronas Towersin Kuala Lumpur (undeserved, in my view

The Long Tail

The Long Tail is a phenomenon that is reshaping the landscape of commerce - what influence could it have on eParticipation?

Wired editor, Chris Anderson, unleashed a whirlwind of discussion when his article "The Long Tail" appeared in the October 2004 issue of Wired. He had found a useful way of getting to grips with just how digital technologies can shift the landscape, particular for commerce.

He points out that half of the iTunes or Amazons sales are made bymedia that hasn't made it into the stores. This is the Long Tail, a newmarket in times when production and storage space are close to free.

Can we transfer this concept, and what would that mean on our way from traditional civic engagement to online participation?

Jason Kitcat has spend some thoughts on this on his blog:

The reality obviously isn't that a nation isn't at one level oranother. Different people participate at different levels - MPs do havefairly direct control while many only occasionally partake in theone-way processes at the bottom of the pile. A small number of peoplehave large amounts of influence and a huge number of people holdmassively diverse levels of power. In other words, ff we lay thiscontinuum of participants on its side we have a long tail-type graph.Aha!

The Long Tail of Power

He raises concerns about limited attention spans of decision makers too, that in my eyes are criticial to participatory approaches, that are not directly tied into the decision making process.

Online presentations

Thumbstacks fills a gap on the web, that is so far only covered by expensive services like webex.

With Thumbstacks.com, you can make presentations - like slideshows, oroutlines - right in your web browser. When you're done, you can shareyour presentations with anyone, anywhere, just by sending them a link.Want to see an example? Here's a presentation about us. It all runs right here, in your web browser. You can create yourpresentation, save it, modify it, update it, whatever - then click"publish" and you'll get a link you can use to share it with everyone.The best way to understand is to try it out!

The service is still alpha, but just rolled out a great new feature that actually lets you steer the slideshow, while everybody else follows along online. Combine it with Skype for conference calls, including their new support for webcams and you have your personal webmeeting for free.

Well, add a live video stream (something like camstreams.com) and you could even use it to present your town hall meeting online.

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