Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Ning & Facebook and other "Interest" networking opportunities.

For most of my life starting in college and especially during this first decade of the twenty first century I have become extremely interested in the concept of interest and community online networking concepts. As a result I have experimented with hundreds of different interest networking projects including dozens of list serves, Yahoo, Google and Apple groups, MySpace, LinkedIn, FriendFeed and many others. I am still active in many of these networks. Like millions of others I am also currently participating in the increasingly popular "Social Networking opportunities like " FaceBook and Twitter. I have found that I can post references to to my blog posts at one time on many of these by using

My own ideas about why people join these new Social Networking projects is that these are promoted as a way of finding and communicating with "Friends" who have common interests. I am most interested now in how these network projects can help people find others who have common interests in "Place Based" environmental and ecosystem issues. The most interesting networking platform I have found to date that provides more specific interest capability is provided by Marc Andreeson, original founder of Netscape, is a cofounder and describes Ning as a "Next" generation of networking services compared to "Walled Services" like Facebook and MySpace. One aspect of this next generation and of future networking options is open collaborative sharing between networks. Google has created a project called Open Social which starts to address this issue and Ning is participating in this initiative.

Today I came across an interesting blog post titled "Facebook + Ning for Social Change" on the My Social Actions Blog. The article lays out "three scenarios for how your social change initiative can combine the critical mass of Facebook with the community-building tools of Ning.
For anyone following the evolution of social media for social change, the emergence of Facebook and Ning as complementary tools for engaging people in making a difference is quite exciting."

In this blog post I want to share links to some examples of specialized Ning Networking projects I have been involved in helping to produce. Any person or small group with a common environmental interest can start a similar project which is extremely customizable to coincide with the needs of the participants who join.

GeoWeb Common Adventure Network
Idaho Outdoor Photography Network
Idaho Common Adventure Network
Idaho Environmental Network
Idaho Environmental Summit Planning -2008- Network
Jamaica Protected Areas Network
Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe Water Quality Network
Idaho Weed Awareness Campaign Network

If there are any questions or comments from readers I would be happy to try to respond.

New FCC seeks input on National Broadband Plan

Incredibly the U.S. has been ranked below many other countries in the world compared to Internet broadband speed, access and cost for several years. I don't believe this situation is what the American public expects from the decisions made by our elected leaders.

Over the years I have often watched CSPAN coverage of public Federal Communication Commission (FCC) meetings and hearings. Michael Copps has always seemed to be one of the most reasonable members of the FCC and has recently been named the Acting Chairman. (Photo Credit: FCC)

Today I read in in an article written by Chloe Albanesius, titled " FCC Opens Suggestions Box for Broadband Plan" that Copps anounced that the FCC is opening a "60-day comment period Wednesday, asking anyone with a vested interest in broadband to provide their input on how best to go forward."

"Specifically, the FCC wants to know the "most effective and efficient ways" to ensure national broadband, strategies for providing the most affordable high-speed Internet services, evaluations of current broadband deployments – including stimulus-related broadband grant programs, and how to use broadband to create better communities."

In another article about this plan written by Stephanie Condon and Marguerite Reardon in CNET News they report that Copps stated, "This commission has never, I believe, received a more serious charge than the one to spearhead development of a national broadband plan."

The authors add "Both Copps and Commissioner Jon Adelstein emphasized the need for the government to take a stronger role in fostering nationwide broadband access and adoption."
"Real economic and social progress needs to be fueled by both vigorous private enterprise and enlightened public policy," Copps said. "The missing ingredient until this year has been the enlightened public policy."

Geospatial Semantic Web / Evolutionary Changes

I believe some of the comments in the article noted below will affect, or are already affecting how geospatial, semantic, and place based interest networking web sites are being developed, by government agencies and and all other organizations and educational institutions providing "Place Based" information to the public.

In our own work with Mountain Visions we are attempting to learn how to employ these changes on web site projects we develop. One example of a project in progress now is the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe Water Quality Monitoring web site project. The map to the right provides a hot link to a Google Map providing links to a number place based GeoWeb information pages.

Prof. Mike Jackson, David Schell, and Prof. D.R. Fraser Tayor wrote a very detailed article in Directions Magazine published April 6, 2009, titled "The Evolution of Geospatial Technology Calls for Changes in Geospatial Research, Education and Government Management." Below are a few summary comments I cut and pasted to provide a quick look at the longer article.

"The Geospatial Semantic Web is poised to develop rapidly on the platform of the World Wide Web Consortium's Semantic Web."

"1. Introduction

Over the last 15 years, geospatial technologies have evolved and dramatically converged with a variety of formal information technology disciplines. The discrete, even esoteric pursuits we referred to as GIS, Earth imaging, GPS, AM/FM, location based services and navigation systems are no longer discrete. Now they are of a piece, they "talk to one another" and interact freely in a fertile communications environment of wireless broadband, portable cell phone/computers, sensor-webs and, of course, the dynamically evolving environment of the World Wide Web. In fact, geodata is rapidly becoming a conventional and pervasively familiar data type seen at once to underpin and significantly recharacterize the digital world, with broad implications for both technology and society."

"This is not just a US issue. Most countries are poised to generate vast quantities of new geodata. The technologies for producing and using geodata have become so inexpensive and cost-effective that the budgetary constraints that faced government agencies and companies are increasingly not an issue. Perhaps of even greater significance, however, is the fact that the generators of the data will also increasingly be the mass consumer. Through the use of what will be ubiquitous GPS enabled mobile phones (supplemented with other positioning technology for indoor as well as outdoor coverage) the public will increasingly provide dense networks of location-tagged data and imagery as a by-product of their natural mobility and consumption of location-based services."

"6. Conclusion
Just as the significance of the Web could not be widely appreciated until the necessary Web standards had been in place for a few years, we believe that all the domains of geospatial technology and application are about to experience a remarkable transformation due to global adoption of open standard geospatial Web service interfaces and encodings. The rich "network effects" made possible by chained Web services, GRID computing, sensor webs, geospatial semantics, and online catalogs for data, services and schemas hold great promise, but there is no guarantee that this promise will be fulfilled. The question is, can we find the institutional will - in academia and government - to make changes that enable societies around the world to make the most of these new tools?"