Online Dialogue - Berlin Tempelhof hosted by Zebralog

My colleagues at Zebralog in Berlin have recently released a great video clip showcasing the online dialogue they hosted about the reuse of Flughafen Tempelhof, formerly Berlin's biggest inner city airport. It shows the on-site workshops they organized which accompanied the online discussion to inform and educate participants. The end of the clip demonstrates the importance of public kiosks to reach a less tech-savvy crowd and include their opinions into online processes. 

Jott the Vote - Messages to Presidential Campaign Via Phone to Text

A while back I started using Jott.com, a voice to email service to update my personal todo list from m­y phone. I was amazed about how accurate most of the calls are transcribed and kept watching future development closely.

Just recently, they introduced Jott the Vote™, a free and politically nonpartisanservice that allows anyone with a phone to send a jott email messagedirectly to a presidential campaign.

"We have used Jott technology toallow voters all over our great country to easily and readilycommunicate with those running for President.

When asked, “Who do you want to Jott?” say a candidate’s name andleave a message that will be emailed to their campaign. Unlike yournormal jotts, these messages will also be made part of a publicconversation on www.jottthevote.com.

The website features:

  • Individual presidential candidate pages.
  • Candidate Jott polls.
  • A campaign question of the week."

The result can be found at www.jottthevote.com. I must say, I really like the voice to text part of it, which would be useful for any online dialogue to include people without internet access, whether that's in general or just because they are sitting at the bus station. Nonetheless, it also shows the shortcomings of phone integration, since an exchange of opinions is basically non-existent - if users reply to posts, barely ever does the author get back to them (could be a sign on lack of interest or significance of the discussion too).

Bringing comments submitted via phone or snail mail into an online deliberation with two way feedback/true exchange of opinions stays a challenging task and I haven't seen any case study successfully address that yet.

Free Webcasts with Ustream.tv

I'm back-posting here, life has been busy over the last weeks, with Robin and I getting married on Oct. 6th. We had such a great time with fiends and family, but only a few of my folks in Germany were able to come to Denver to celebrate with us. So I looked into options to broadcast the ceremony, to enable everyone who couldn't make it to be with us virtually, while we were saying our vows.

This is where the story becomes worth a post on my participatory technology blog: The service I ended up using is called Ustream.tv and I can highly recommend it, if you're looking for a free, high-quality way to broadcast meetings, workshops or town hall meetings.

From their website: "Ustream is a platform that provides live interactive video for everyone. Anyone with a camera and an Internet connection can use Ustream to broadcast to a global audience."

The whole application is flash-driven, which allows you to easily broadcast and record your session, without worrying about complex IP configurations and similar issues of other approaches to streaming video. Since the viewer is in flash too, it's as easy to integrate into your website as a Youtube video. This also means your users most likely will not have to worry about having the right software installed (real player vs. windows media player vs. quicktime) since flash is pre-installed on all modern browsers. It's a hosted service, so you don't have to worry about bandwidth either.

A quick note on the camera. You'll need a decent webcam to produce a high quality video stream. Even though webcams are getting better today, most of them still won't give you the quality you're looking for. This is a big issue, but in my research I found the "QuickCam Pro for Notebooks" from Logitech to be the best in terms of lens, light adjustments etc. I can highly recommend it, it turned out to be the best webcam I've used and the quality of the streaming video exceeded my expectations by far.

Cross-media participation research

A summarizing article of my research on cross-media public participation has been published in the most recent Limehouse publication. It outlines the key findings from the evaluation of two cutting-edge public participation projects in Berlin, Germany and ends with a list of recommendations for successful citizen engagement in an age of rapid technological changes and convergence of communication media. 

You can download a pdf version of the article or go to PlaceMatters' publication section to provide your input and feedback.  

eConsultation Platform for National Leadership Summits

We've been asked by Bill Becker, who's hosting the National Leadership Summits to provide an easy way to collect feedback on a large amount of ideas generated in the past to be included into the next Presidential Climate Action Plan. This is a screencast showcasing the eConsultation platform we built on Drupal. My first screencast... I'll keep practicing:

Some background information on the project:

In 1993, a group of American leaders began a six-year process to create a sustainable development agenda for the nation. The group was the President's Council on Sustainable Development, created during the Clinton Administration. Many of its ideas have remain just that -- ideas. Some have been implemented, but most have not. We need your help updating and refining these ideas to include them into the next Presidential Climate Action Plan.


In 2006, the Johnson Foundation began hosting a series of four National Leadership Summits to renew a discussion about U.S. sustainability. The summits, each involving 40 of the country's best thinkers, developed additional ideas about how to advance energy policy, natural resource stewardship and sustainable community development, especially in light of global climate change. (Learn more at www.summits.ncat.org)   The final summit will take place in October. Its mission is to produce a five-year action plan to revitalize the goal of sustainable development and to identify the nation's next steps.

Mapping a youth friendly city - the 910Arts project

At CU Denver, I recently helped design and implement a mapping application to collect feedback from Denver's youth about what they like and dislike in their neighborhoods. The application wasn't simply a static map often used by car rental companies, like ­car hire shannon­. It was an interactive mapping application that was used to conduct a survey. Children and teenagers were able to add markers to their home or other important places and answered three short questions about the neighborhoods around them. The whole application was built as a kiosk, and participants at the exhibition were able leave their feedback right at the spot.

The big opening was last Friday and I heard back from Darcy Varney, the curator of the exhibition, today: "... it adds a wonderful interactive dimension that has already engaged lots of people and was consistently popular throughout the weekend."

For the mapping part I rediscovered the WorldKit toolkit. One, because of its annotation feature, which is really easy of use and its ability to attach all kinds of input, especially in this case survey questions. The lack of an internet connection was another reason to go with WorldKit as a lightweight mapping solution without having to add something like GeoServer or MapServer to the mix.

Also, as much pain it is to make websites work with Internet Explorer, the kiosk mode is wonderful. If you're looking to adding kiosks as part of your eParticipation projects, you should definitely take a look at this feature

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