This is part two of my three part coverage of FooCamp 2009. You can also read part one and part three for more.
Again, this entry is written under the constraints of FrieNDA and will summarise only those observations which are non-attributable to anyone but myself.
After the big brain squeeze yesterday, I kicked off the day sitting under a tree and summarising my thoughts as to what shape my session on Education would take, I wanted to engage conversation early – but felt it important to frame the direction I was approaching the issue from up front so we could end the session with some definite take away points and next steps.
The rest of the day took the following format:
A inspiring gentleman who is in the process of building (and experimenting with) his ‘Eco House’ in the Coromandal took us through a great discussion around renewable energy and how, harnessing something as simple as the free energy of the sun, we can heat our homes, our water and make a real impact on our energy usage.
- The installation costs are still somewhat high (could do with some governmental/power company assistance?) but the running costs are negligible
- There is a definite case to be made for dual voltage systems in a home (low power for appliances/LED lighting, mains voltage for high drain devices)
- The freedom to experiment in the suburbs is minuscule, truly effective eco-housing needs (currently) to be situated in a rural area.
- There is such a thing as a device which allows you to send generated electricity (from a Photovoltaic array on your roof as an example) back *into* the power grid. Power companies in NZ that support this will give dollar for dollar. This provides a potential for distributed power generation via private citizens homes.
The interesting thing I found here is that the framing of the debate is typically influenced most heavily via the use of words and the spin put around them by/via the media. As an example of this consider the use of the words ‘Theft’ and ‘Piracy’ when the issue of copyright is discussed.
A suggestion was made that it would be interesting to track the word clouds of political communications and compare them to those of lobby groups to see where the influence was coming from. This may already be being done, I just need to find some links to point you toward.
When communicating with a government official:
- Have, and express your points clearly
- Be polite and concise (email spamming the same message does NOT work)
- Know your stuff and, if you are fortunate enough to get some face time with an elected official be able to back your position with facts/studies etc. as there will be people present who will know their stuff and challenge your points.
And most importantly.. give the decision maker a safe way out!
- George Lakoff – Don’t Think Of An Elephant!
- They work for you
I attended this session to feed my home/consumer devices and automation obsession, and came away with even more information than I dreamt.
- The XMPP protocol is hella useful here
- Need to expose location information to users so THEY can find an application for it which they find useful
- The value of different types of data changes over time (there’s a graph of this I could insert)
- Caution required to not overload users with information. Context sensitive notifications
- Being able to connect disparate data sources which pertain to similar information would extend the functionality able to be offered (example of different types of weather stations, aggregating their ‘Raining/Not Raining” information)
Things to check out:
Pachube – “a service that enables you to connect, tag and share real time sensor data from objects, devices, buildings and environments around the world”
4 Million Leaders
Tim (in his usual enthusiastic manner) tells us about his latest project (conceived, built AND launched in 10 days) ThinkSmall a “free, open community aimed at finding solutions to issues that face New Zealand”
- New Zealand is disproportionately able to effect massive change of it’s own environments
We sit alongside 200 or so other ‘small’ nations, dwarfed by the two or three huge nations
Sign up to ThinkSmall and get involved, you will be held to account for your calls to action
Things to check out:
Broadband, a simple word and HUGE subject
- Much angry shouting
- Difficulty expressing what was desired in terms of services (fast and “[insert a big number]” is not a service)
- People using an asynchronous technology to upload vast amounts of data have problems (they should like VDSL when it launches?)
- General agreement that there needs to be a more collaborative approach to providing bandwidth appropriate to desired services to the people
This was a session that I led, based around a growing interest in how we as technologists, can help our kids schools and teachers. We had over 30 of the Foo attendees interested in this session and, while I can’t discuss the exact nature of the outcomes due to FrieNDA, there were some generic truths and a call to action which a number of us will take away from the weekend.
- Teachers spend an inordinate amount of their non-class time in administrative duties.
- Extra curricular and professional development also take up a lot of a typical teachers time.
- There are a huge number of things that we as parents with wide range skills can do to assist the teachers and their schools.
- Volunteer, seriously. Whether it’s transcribing lesson plans, scrounging up some awesome resources for a specific lesson or coaching a school team, whatever you can do will impact on the additional workload of the teachers
- Tutor or assist – I personally will be re-offering my services to the school for any teachers who would like to spend some time learning applications, how to search the internet, or how to get kids interested in the world accessible from the keyboard.
- Ask the school what they need, see how you can help – is your company updating it’s infrastructure, can you redeploy old PC or Wireless LAN equipment to the school campus rather than attempting a resale via disposal brokers?
- There are some incredible schools out there, there are some amazing teachers – if you have access to either, see if you can help them help others
Things to check out:
- Discovery 1 – “Discovery 1 is a special character, state funded primary school based in the heart of the Christchurch Central Business District. It is an innovative learning community where all key stake holders (children, parents & staff) take an active part in the creationÂ of a childâ€™s learning journey.”
- Unlimited High School
- Digital Technology Framework
For those attendees of the session, if there was a specific point that you made and you feel can be released here outside of FrieNDA, please feel free to leave a comment or contact me directly off the FooCamp attendees list.
Section 92 – The Countdown
We had an amazing and inspiring discussion around what could be done in the last weeks before the act becomes law. To be part of that conversation was both humbling and exciting. The results of the discussion will see the light of day in the weeks following Foo.
A huge day in the company of excellent people with phenominal brainpower and an unquenchable desire to lend their expertise to resolve any issue they can… Time for some more wine, another conversation or three and then bed.