Published on February 25, 2009
http://www.ﬂickr.com/photos/hyku/ Social networks for grand challenges or “Open Social has about 500 million users, Facebook has around 150 million letʼs take them for a spin and see what they can do for the world” Chris Thorpe Chris Thorpe | Terra Future 09 | Royal Geographical Society
http://www.ﬂickr.com/photos/kubina/ “How can we use this technology to solve real-world problems?” “Thereʼs been a lot of focus on silly consumer applications, like throwing sheep” >Tim OʼReilly Chris Thorpe | Terra Future 09Terra Future 09 | Royal Geographical Society Don’t think Tim is asking for apps which cure cancer, or ﬁx economies, we’d all just like to see this massive user base for good
FTSE↓ + Social + APIs ?= WIN Chris Thorpe | Terra Future 09Terra Future 09 | Royal Geographical Society so why is now a good time to think about grand challenges. The combination of disillusionment with ﬁnancial markets and large corporations, accessibility to social and data APIs, easy to use tools for mashups and readily available cloud computing may be the perfect storm for attacking some of the major challenges which Tim is talking about people want a say and want to be mobilized
http://www.ﬂickr.com/photos/wishymom/ we are a herd animal Chris Thorpe | Terra Future 09Terra Future 09 | Royal Geographical Society And social tools can be a huge part of this We are a herd animal. We are essentially the social ape. We cannot escape our biology and in some ways that’suseful as if it didn’t there would be no social networks. We respond to inﬂuence, we migrate from place to place within digital networks following others. Let’s do something interesting with this behavior which people like Mark Earls document so well
http://www.ﬂickr.com/photos/sovietuk/ social proof/inﬂuence Chris Thorpe | Terra Future 09Terra Future 09 | Royal Geographical Society and lets use this incredibly strong mechanic of social proof and inﬂuence, of wanting to do the things others do it’s always more tempting to eat at a restaurant with a queue, rather than an empty one social networks surface activity constantly in newsfeeds and activity streams, we can harness that for challenges, but how?
Chris has just achieved a really high world karma points score playing “For the Good of Mankind” Can you beat his score? Chris Thorpe | Terra Future 09Terra Future 09 | Royal Geographical Society This is obviously a made up example, but you can obviously see where I may be going with this... would be nice to have a concept of world karma points
http://www.acesscity.co.uk/ Someone you know is helping to map routes around cities based on their personal view of accessibility. Tell us your story on AccessCity Chris Thorpe | Terra Future 09Terra Future 09 | Royal Geographical Society AccessCity, project I’m proud to have been involved in. Started at Social Innovation Camp by Domminic Campbell with a team of just 6. Aim is to build a crowdsourced map of London from an accessibility standpoint which relates to real time user-centric information. We’re aiming to send out MySpace users on missions to map the easiest routes round the capital for people of varying levels of disability
http://www.acesscity.co.uk/ Chris Thorpe | Terra Future 09Terra Future 09 | Royal Geographical Society Geography is so important in solving real world problems, geography is not just maps, not even just about three dimensional spaces, it’s all about your personal involvement with a location and this can only be gathered by people not machines and by users not surveyors. It’s also totally time based as anyone who tries to use Kings Cross station on a Friday night can attest
http://www.acesscity.co.uk/ (OpenID + OAuth + FBConnect + API + SMS + Email) - TfL Chris Thorpe | Terra Future 09Terra Future 09 | Royal Geographical Society First thing we built at SI Camp was an API so we could build many clients and get other people to build those clients for us. All we need now is organisations like TfL to follow our lead. One major problem in solving grand challenges is in getting veriﬁed non-scraped data via proper and free APIs. One way round this problem is to see the grand challenge to be creating free high quality alternative data sets via crowdsourced means.
http://www.google.org/powermeter/ Your best friend used 5% less electricity this month than he did this time last year. Can you do better? Chris Thorpe | Terra Future 09Terra Future 09 | Royal Geographical Society The environment is clearly a great challenge to solve, just imagine a social application based on Google Power Meter where you could claim which Power Meter was yours and compete against your friends about how much power you’ve saved?
http://www.we20.org/ 19 of your schoolmates have set a date to sit down and discuss how the world could be run. Can you be the 20th person in their We20 group? Be a part of the discussion. Chris Thorpe | Terra Future 09Terra Future 09 | Royal Geographical Society Politics and active citizenry. We20. A wonderful idea from Paul Massey and others. Create your own personal G20 meeting using MySpace, Facebook or in real life. Create your own policies and then have people vote them up or down. The most popular policies rise to the top and can be put in front of politicians Their full site is launching very soon
http://www.openstreetmap.org/ these are protoypes, is anyone doing this sort of thing yet? Chris Thorpe | Terra Future 09Terra Future 09 | Royal Geographical Society Is anybody using this sort of mechanism to solve a grand challenge already? Several examples I can think of. Open Streetmap is one of them. Social tools to produce a high quality resource which solves a real challenge.
http://www.ﬂickr.com/photos/nick_bl/ Chris Thorpe | Terra Future 09Terra Future 09 | Royal Geographical Society Making high quality maps is a grand challenge. There are areas where it is hard to map quickly enough or to a high enough resolution. There are areas where it is not ﬁnancially viable to map or politically dificult. Groups of volunteers can ﬁx this. One of the ﬁrst things which they created was a highscore table. They now have approaching 100,000 people socially mapping worldwide.
Chris Thorpe | Terra Future 09Terra Future 09 | Royal Geographical Society Obama for America iPhone app See nationwide 08 Call Friends total and ﬁnd our how your call totals compare to leading callers Oh my god, it’s a high score table... it’s a game of electioneering
http://www.ﬂickr.com/photos/pdcawley/ “Obama for America just launched an MMO, and nobody noticed.” >Tom Armitage, infovore Chris Thorpe | Terra Future 09Terra Future 09 | Royal Geographical Society Tom Armitage said it best, there is a leader board function from multiplayer games built right into the Obama campaign Hopefully the use of social technologies will be a feature of the Obama regime going forward. Hiring the former Open Social evangelist for Europe for Google, Katie Jacobs Stanton to the position of Director of Citizen Participation is probably quite a good statement of intent and start What about grand challenges that the networks themselves solve
lonely? disconnected? Chris Thorpe | Terra Future 09 |October 2008 | Startup University Future of Web Apps | 9/10 Royal Geographical Society Possibly our biggest challenge in social networks is ﬁxing loneliness and disconnection. It’s no surprise that mothers when separated in the real world from peer groups through the demands of new motherhood, and stigmatised by people’s view of breast feeding in public, feel isolated it’s no surprise that they’re turning to social networks in droves. the fact that they can be social even if it is 1 handed typing in between feeds and that their social interactions can be rich and yet asynchronous is an amazing thing for them
http://www.ﬂickr.com/photos/smileygeekgirl/ netmums? the WI of the digital age Chris Thorpe | Terra Future 09 |October 2008 | Startup University Future of Web Apps | 9/10 Royal Geographical Society and if we could build a social network which was as long lasting and productive at building support and friendship networks as something like the WI we’d all be building something that could take on some truly grand challenges netmums, support network, which helps parents understand what they are going through, provides back up, provides services like blind dates for mums where they can meet other mums near them
http://www.twitter.com/tom_watson Chris Thorpe | Terra Future 09 |October 2008 | Startup University Future of Web Apps | 9/10 Royal Geographical Society A grand challenge is always how we deal with loss. Suicide rates for instance are higher within families where there has already been a suicide or death. People ﬁnd it hard to talk. Social networking can reach out to people at times of crisis and sadness, crossing divides. Fixing that our modern lives are fairly asocial compared to those of our grandparents I heard this news this morning via Tom’s stream. Like Tom I’m father and really feel for David Cameron. This moved me more than anything this morning when I arrived here.
http://www.ﬂickr.com/photos/ogil/ machines for living? or asocial spaces Chris Thorpe | Terra Future 09 |October 2008 | Startup University Future of Web Apps | 9/10 Royal Geographical Society Over 6 billion of the world’s population live in this sort of place, one of Le Coubosier’s machines for living with people barely knowing their neighbours despite the notion of building in all of the services such as schools, health centres and shops. The density of people is so great that the statistical chances of being able to recognise a signiﬁcant percentage of the faces you see each day are low. We need social networks to solve grand challenges but maybe one of the grandest challenges of all is helping people to be really social communities in urban environments. Local is a challenge waiting to be solved
http://www.ﬂickr.com/photos/carthorse/ p $100 @twestival Chris Thorpe http://twitter.com/jaggeree Chris Thorpe | Terra Future 09Terra Future 09 | Royal Geographical Society I can’t think of a better image/example to end on. Amanda Rose, created a festival using Twitter which raised at least a quarter a million to pay for clean drinking water for people in developing nations. Doing all this despite more snow than we’ve seen in London for a while and with just volunteer helpers. How? By just having an open ended idea sending an invitation to the world to connect and share and create their own copy of that idea and to remix it and extend it. All in 140 characters and in the public and inﬂuential view of the activity stream.
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