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BarCamp Africa UK – London, 07 Nov. 2009 November 7, 2009

Posted by peterjmurray in unconference.
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Peter is at BarCamp Africa UK which is being hosted at Vodafone’s Paddington offices in London today.

Information on the event is at various sources, including http://barcampafrica-uk.wikispaces.com and http://africamp.com/uk (which latter is using a Livestream video feed on the site)

I will be blogging intermittently today, as well as tweeting (search hashtag #bcafricauk09 on Twitter).

Based in the premise that technology will be the way to develop Africa; aims to be action-oriented, user-driven, interactive event. The opening “keynote” is from Dr Ekwow Spio-Garbrah, the Chief Executive Officer of the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation (CTO), who gave introductory remarks.

One of sponsors is http://www.betavine.net (part of Vodafone) which aims to develop social and sustainable applications of mobile technology to bring about change.

I am attending one of the parallel sessions, which is on ‘Blogging from Africa’ – Miquel Hudin from maneno.org (incorporated in USA as an NGO) is leading it. They aim to try and deal with low bandwidth, multi-lingual issues etc that impact bloggers in Africa. Estimates are that less than 1% of world’s bloggers are from Africa. Finding internet access an be a problem; often have to use slow satellite connections. About 40 bloggers (out of a population of 23 million) in Ghana, for example, says Miquel. The maneno.org platform is available in nine languages (inc. Swahili and Zulu) – people can customise their own blogs on the site, which can be a help to newcomers to blogging and the internet. The site also runs a hib for African barcamp events. Miquel notes that a barcamp is also running today in Cameroon – http://www.maneno.org/eng/articles/country/cameroon/ Q – how many Africans want to blog in the language they speak? – won’t they reach more people by blogging in English?

Stephen Wolak, from Vodafone, is doing one of the first parallel sessions in the afternoon, on ‘Betavine Social Exchange – pilot in South Africa’ – which is about bringing together people dealing with social issues and technology people, including applications developers. betavine.mobi is an area for downloading applications. http://www.vodafonebetavine.net/bvportal/community/linux is for getting software to make 3G mobiles work on Linux. Mobile technologies are being used increasingly for social change. http://crowdtalk.wordpress.com/ is a blog related to this initiative.

Conrad Taylor doing a session on “Publishing technology and fonts for Africa” (>>>). I couldn’t go to Cornelia’s session on OLPC project, but you can find plenty of tweets about it; see also http://codex2project.blogs.lincoln.ac.uk/


Healthcamp Toronto September 16, 2009

Posted by peterjmurray in conference, health informatics, unconference.
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Peter is at his first healthcamp/barcamp, here in Toronto. A lot of interesting, enthusiastic people here to look at a wide variety of issues. The formal website for the event, which will have summaries, conversations, links, etc is at http://www.socialtext.net/hctoronto/index.cgi?healthcamptoronto

A lot of the major conversation will be via Twitter – search using #hcTO

I am here to learn what these events are all about, how they work, etc., and what benefits there can be out of them.

UPDATE: 17 Sept. Healthcamp Toronto was an interesting experience; @carlosrizo and all his colleagues at the Innovation Cell did a great job of organising and running it – and of trying to capture all the conversations, which is a difficult task. It wil be interesting to see the various analyses that come out of it. Having been involved in running quite a few similarly semi-structured workshops etc. in the past, I appreciate the challenges of trying to get away from talking heads and monologues and death by powerpoint, etc.

The idea of having a ‘wall’ where people could post what they wanted to discuss in sessions worked well; although requires you to think quickly and try to grasp what the session ‘leader’ is looking to explore. A lot of the session notes, together with video clips and photos are on the website; I recommend you to go and explore that. A few ideas/issues I picked up from the sessions I went to:

  • how do we bring people without technical skills into using online tools? – how do we overcome some of digital divides?
  • will social networking tools become part of people’s normal social landscape in the future, and so these become ‘non-issues’ in the future?
  • there were many differing views of the value of content on some online discussion areas – some suggest low value (too much ‘noise’), some report studies that give high value/accurate information (more accurate information often in areas for more specific/specialised diseases).
  • do we need filtering of information, or does the good material rise and stay, and the dross fall away (via crowdsourcing etc)?
  • what do we mean by Web 3.0 and what will it mean for health? (search Twitter for comments here).

The discussion 'grid'


Welcome to healthcamp - the rules of healthcamp ....


A Healthcamp Wordle from live analysis of tweets