Oct 14

“Open Development Cambodia” Interview with Executive Director Thy Try

Johannes Kast presents an open data mapping platform in Cambodia and interviews the executive director


ODC Logo

Open Development Cambodia is a novel, non-commercial open data platform designed to collect data and make it available, e.g. through interactive maps, in order to address environmental, economic and social issues through the unbiased lens of raw information. They also provide important, up-to-date information on natural ressources, laws & regulations, company profiles and more.

It’s the first of its kind in South East Asia and both the software that is used and the methodology are open source, transparent and freely accessible to everyone. Especially in recent years, Cambodia is undergoing constant, fast-pace changes, so the mapping software provides a useful illustration.

The ODC Team

The ODC Team

Continue reading →

Oct 14

Is Google predicting the f(l)uture

Charlotta Duse about

Google Flu Trends

By analyzing the big data from our google searches, the Google Flu Trends claims to provide ”near real-time estimates of flu activity for a number of countries and regions around the world”.

The idea of the GFT is that if people feel sick, they will search for medication, expected symptom etc. on Google, and the company will be able to analyze this user data and see how and where the flu is spreading. Kenneth Cukier and Viktor Mayer-Schonberger calls the system ”more useful and [a more] timely indicator than government statistics with their natural reporting lags. Public health officials were armed with valuable information” (2013:pos45).

But voices are also raised for the contrary, voices saying that GFT failed its purpose various times. Some even calls it ”a prime example of what can go wrong when you read too much into your Big Data”

Continue reading →

Oct 14

Social Media in the HK “Umbrella Revolution” a double edged sword? (Slideshow)

Do not miss the slideshow with commentary from our own reporter in Hong Kong – Johannes Kast.

Blockade of Hong Kong "Occupy Central"

Blockade of Hong Kong “Occupy Central”

This autumn, all eyes were on Hong Kong – a Chinese city with its own political and economical system after the “one country, two systems” principle was introduced following the reunification between Hong Kong and the People’s Republic of China. This september, after some initial mass protests that got out of control, students and activists blocked the main roads in Hong Kong’s central governmental and financial district on September 29th demanding full suffrage on choosing their cities leader. Since then – with varying numbers of support – the protesters have set up peaceful blockades both in Hong Kong central and in Mong Kok on the mainland, while having to defend themselves against attacks from police armed with tear gas and batons, triad interferences and sometimes even civilian anti-protest groups.

Continue reading →

Oct 14


Charlotta Duse on the perils of accepting online T&Cs without first reading what they include.

I believe I am not the only one who have pressed the ”I accept”-button when finding a public Wi-Fi connection without really reading the agreement. So when I saw an article in the newspaper about this the other day, I could not resist to read it. The very click-friendly title was ”Prepared to give away your child for free wifi?”.

The article describes how many people accept the Terms and Conditions for using free wi-fi without even reading them first (at least I hope nobody read them and then accepted). This was proven when this company established an open wi-fi connection at various places in London for people to use, under the conditions that they gave away their firstborn child, their favorite pet and all their available data to the company in question. People connected and 32 megabyte (emails, contacts, searches etc) of data was collected in just 30 minutes. Not all connections were manual. The company says that ”In just a half-hour period, 250 devices connected to the hotspot. Most of these were probably automatic connections, without their owner even realizing it”.

A part from that this was an experiment made by a company who wants to sell us their service and protect us from open, and potentially harmfull, wi-fi, it raised some interesting questions.

Continue reading →

Oct 14

#ChicagoGirl – ”From my laptop, I am running a revolution in Syria”

An excellent example of the use of social media in development – commentary by Charlotta Duse.



This is a very recommendable documentary about social media citizens journalists and activists in Syria and America, documenting the conflict in Syria (I have only found it with subtitles in Swedish). Although the interviews are a few years old, the content is still very actual.

Sharing via new media

By sharing videos, photos and stories from inside of Syria on social networks the young people we meet in this documentary are trying to shape the world’s view of the events in a country hard for the traditional media to portrait. Via Twitter, Facebook, Youtube etc. these persons have started their own citizens media agency with the goal to spread words and pictures of what is going on in Syria, this by risking their own lives. An added value to the sharing is of course also that people, in Syria or outside of the country, sympathizing with the activists feel a greater security seeing that more people feel the same way as they do – this is social medias gift of joining people together (Kluitenberg. 2003:2). But this of course requires the recourses to find and see the videos by the likeminded, as well as by global audience. 

The geographical distance is no problem – the ubiquity of information is nowadays a fact (Archetti.2011:182). This is one of the many potentials of digital networking and new media: a way of promoting and democratizing knowledge and communication everywhere. But you need to know where to look for it, what is shown to a majority of people is another issue. One can of course question the change a video on youtube makes, if nobody sees it. 

Continue reading →

Oct 14

2014 and the Ministry of Truth | Newspeak: Minitrue

Abigail Leffler says Big Data Brother… one bit at a time

ICT (Internet communications technology) enables gathering of digital data derived from our online interactions and other iterations such as those that come from GPS (Global Positioning System)-equipped devices. This interactivity being ‘a necessary condition for social, cultural and political participation’ (Lievrouw: 2013, p. 15) functions as a catalyst for change, development and humanitarian relief.

Just consider that all the tweets, blogposts and Facebook entries generate big data and so do all the ‘likes’ and endorsements and any other information pointing to user connection networks and to activity levels of individuals on the Net.

To give you an idea of how large big data actually is, every minute of every day we create

Continue reading →

Oct 14

Big Data and You: Accessing Big Data

Johannes Kast on open data and big data… and the data revolution.

Big Data is shaping the way we look at the world and offers an alternative way of predicting what is going to happen next. And the amount of data is exponentially increasing. While in 2012, 2.8 Billion Terrabyte of data were saved, the IDC predicts that this number will increase to 40 Billion in the year 2020. Data is changing how we make sense of the the world, it changes classic business models drastically and it has the potential to revolutionise social sciences and the development sector.

There is an obvious benefit for companies to use their collected user data to analyse their markets and consumers, a practice that social media has monetized for a while now. And the tendency to collect massive amounts of data by government agencies has been demonstrated by the scope of the recent NSA scandal. However the Open Data and Open Government trend, which is essentially unstructured data being made publicly available to everyone, is growing as well and can potentially open up new possibilities how non-profits (or other third parties) can play a more active and creative role in shaping our world.

While it can be argued that the current form of data being released is supply driven, while it should be demand driven there are already several access points made available. With more than 150,000 data sets and tools to use them, the US Open Data initiative is a step into the right direction, offering raw information on over twenty topics, such as agriculture, climate and education.

Continue reading →