by Chad Wellmon, IASC: The Hedgehog Review – Volume 14, No. 1 Spring 2012
‘The history of this mutual constitution of humans and technology has been obscured as of late by the crystallization of two competing narratives about how we experience all of this information. On the one hand, there are those who claim that the digitization efforts of Google, the social-networking power of Facebook, and the era of big data in general are finally realizing that ancient dream of unifying all knowledge. … Unlike other technological innovations, like print, which was limited to the educated elite, the internet is a network of “densely interlinked Web pages, blogs, news articles and Tweets [that] are all visible to anyone and everyone.”4 Our information age is unique not only in its scale, but in its inherently open and democratic arrangement of information. … Digital technologies, claim the most optimistic among us, will deliver a universal knowledge that will make us smarter and ultimately liberate us.5 These utopic claims are related to similar visions about a trans-humanist future in which technology will overcome what were once the historical limits of humanity: physical, intellectual, and psychological. The dream is of a post-human era.6
For the full text of this substantive essay, please visit IASC: The Hedgehog Review – Volume 14, No. 1 Spring 2012 – Why Google Isn’t Making Us Stupid…or Smart – Chad Wellmon.
Getting by With a Little Help from Our Friends: Crowdsourcing and USAID Development Credit Loans
USAID’s Development Credit Authority utilizes risk-sharing tools to encourage private financial institutions to increase financing for creditworthy but underserved borrowers. Geo-visualization of these loans will allow donors, host governments, and the public to see where USAID has helped enhance the capacity of the private sector to make loans to new businesses and could act as a gauge for trends or signal areas for synergy.Until recently, these data could not be mapped due to problematic and non-standard location data for each loan. Under the policy umbrella of the First Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review, USAID leveraged federal partners, volunteer technical communities, and the power of crowdsourcing to perform intensive data mining and “geo-coding” to understand the geographic distribution of loans and make these data open to the public. Without any additional cost to USAID, data.gov, an online platform for hosting released data, was used for crowdsourcing for the first time.This case study details technical and policy implementation challenges and solutions to help other government entities explore how to leverage the power of “the crowd.” This form of engagement is opening government and development to the public in an entirely new way. Interested individuals – from transparency advocates to development students to geography fanatics – virtually sit next to USAID staff as true partners working to solve a complex problem.
- Shadrock Roberts, Senior GIS Analyst, GeoCenter, Office of Science and Technology, United States Agency for International Development (USAID)
- Stephanie Grosser, Communications Specialist and Presidential Management Fellow, USAID
- D. Ben Swartley, Agriculture and Environment Officer and GIS Analyst, GeoCenter, Office of Science and Technology, USAID
When:Thursday, June 28, 2012, 12:00 – 1:30 PM
Where: 6th Floor Conference Room
Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars
Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center
One Woodrow Wilson Plaza
1300 Pennsylvania Ave, NW, Washington, DC 20004
To RSVP for this event visit: http://www.wilsoncenter.org/event/getting-little-help-our-friends-crowdsourcing-and-usaid-development-credit-loans This meeting is free and open to the public. Allow time for routine security procedures. A photo ID is required for entry.
TechChange will be providing online engagement for this event.
- To watch the live webcast on June 28th and contribute comments and questions for the panelists, visit: http://techchange.org/live-events/
- To follow and discuss the event on Twitter, use hashtag: #USAIDcrowd
To check out the archived video of the event and event summary, to be posted the following week, visit:
For more information, email CommonsLab@wilsoncenter.org.
For directions to the Wilson Center visit http://www.wilsoncenter.org/directions