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olpcMAP Sprint: Day Three December 30, 2010

Wednesday was a long day! I was told that Nick “fixed” search, whatever that means…They were brainstorming again about the look of the website and its functional structure… Carol volunteered to help beautify  West Coast dots on the map.  

Nick also tried to explain to me how he made mapping easy on XO and other things, which I didn’t get into details… What I do remember though from my conversation with him is geek’s fashion. He explained that it is not only about who is doing cooler stuff in technical terms, meaning:  “Oh yeah, you work with this, but did you try that or even think of this?” Etc… And surprise, surprise, the same applies to their geek gear! If those two dudes  discussed technical stuff and they realized they are equally cool because both work on equally cool stuff, but one wears plain T-shirt  but another one a T-shirt with digital images, then the one with digital images wins! I was in shock because I had no clue that all those seemingly expired (very often worn out, with no color or pattern recognition) T-shirts are competing against each other!

Also I didn’t think geeks care about this trivial stuff, but bigger things? But no, it turns out, those T-shirts have the most value if they have technical images/terms that support geek’s personal beliefs … Geek’s fashion was one of the biggest revelations of the Map Sprint so far… Thank you, Nick!

And then there was olpcMAP Trivia. What a great experience! All who participated won. This is my kind of game. It doesn’t really matter, that Nick and Benaja won super rare red XOs, and I got a Holiday game from Symantec, which is a customized gift for OLPC supporters. All trivia participants were acknowledged and that counts. Also, Adam had several presents to choose from, which is a great example of customizing incentives for volunteers. He offered sweets or games, and of course I picked the game, because I like them so much and they are very valuable to me, while sweets are not (as incentives).

Thank you, Adam, for making trivia so much fun and enjoyable.

I read Nancies post and I wonder if we need to post  similar trivia questions and answers on the map somewhere ? Since it is nowhere else? It would be great to have unknown facts about OLPC and volunteers on the website, so that people can get educated about the company in interactive way.

By the time my presentation started, there was an audience of about 12 people, and I was very happy to present, as I wanted to share the results of olpcMAP survey about volunteering and its meaning. See next post.

After the presentation we went to Cambridge Brewing Company, where I sat next to Ryan and learned a lot about his new non-profit

For more info check out Nancie’s Blog


olpcMAP Sprint: Day Two December 29, 2010

Filed under: Volunteering — polyachka @ 11:30 pm
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Hard-working troops were at the office – brainstorming about the purpose of the map, its look and feel and especially about home page. Too bad for Nick that he was the only geo-guy, so others were leaning toward social portal/media. Mark was promoting the look of Sparked, Nick mentioned Barack Obama’s website, others liked new olpc website look. By the end of the day the team created  a Google doc, which described possible categories of users of the map and what they would want to know,  with FAQs and customized scenarios (storytelling that Nick worked on earlier this month and I was very impresses with). I posted results of the survey on-line and came to the office at 6PM to catch last ten minutes of the film.

FILMMAKER PRESENTATION, Premier Documentary Screening: Internet technologies arrive in rural Peru – what are the challenges? Thanks to filmmaker Audubon Dougherty — presenting in person! Introduced by Digital Media educator/organizer Mark Battley, juxtaposing lessons from his Kenya Internet deployment. 17 people were present and then went for dinner to Chinese restaurant Royal East, and I sat next to Nick.

I discovered olpcMAP.crowdmap and admired its look, as it is like  a newspaper, map and  manual at the same time but more interactive and easy to use. I asked Nick if the homepage of the map can look like it, it has to have the image of the world map but it doesn’t have to be real working map, it just could be its image with a link to real map which would reside on another tab. Same story with FAQs.

Nick wanted FAQ not to be created by one authority but to be open source and social experience, so he said he can modify search not just for people and deployments but also related articles …  Adam calls it bookmarking… But then which ones would show up first: most relevant, most viewed or the latest? And who is going to post them and tag or suggest them?

Then we talked about tags, I asked if they were working on the map for search purposes. Tags are important, because that is how many people/deployments could be found besides their names and locations (like specialty, etc.) … Nick promised to think about the best way to allow people to tag themselves and be found through tags…  And that is what they worked on during the day and Benaja helped a lot. I wend home and started working on my second presentation for Wednesday…

For more info and pictures see Nancie’s Blog


olpcMAP Survey Results December 28, 2010

Thank you for suffering through all 10 questions! We heard feedback that it was hard, confusing and even not logical, but we are positive it was worth it, as we received great answers from you which will help with our initiative. 

There were almost no multiple choice questions as we wanted you to brainstorm, because we don’t need to know what we already know. So with open text answers you had to be creative and generate a lot of new solutions.

I summarizes results of the survey in a presentation to share them with you: overall public opinion on every question and highlights. Download olpcMAP Survey Results, read, share with others and let us know what you think.

The second presentation is different, it comes with thorough analysis of main themes, since questions were more psychological than logical… Some questions were asked for different reasons and that is why they might have been confusing. So you will see our subjective interpretation of your answers to modify our strategy.

What we wanted to know: 

A)     What volunteer needs do you have?

B)      What recognition do you want for your work?

C)      What questions can we use for trivia?

D)      How can we help you?

E)      If you were to design your own volunteer gig, what would it be?

F)      Do you need social identity?

G)     Do you need help deciding what you need?

H)     What do you want to know?

I)       How can we use your answers for strategic good?

Stay tuned for Final Analysis of olpcMAP Survey Results to be posted and presented tomorrow Wed, Dec 29!


olpcMAP sprint: Day One December 27, 2010

  1. Ben and Nancie thought they were late when arrived at the office at 11AM. They were the first ones to show up. Adam and Benaja followed, they had to wait for a bus that never came and walked from Medford to Kendall Square… No wonder many participants got stuck on their way to Boston and didn’t come to the office today. Those who did show up assigned regions to each other and started beautification of landmarks/dots by adding links, pictures, etc.
  2. I was working on the presentation of olpcMAP Survey Results and planned to go to OLPC office around 5PM, but never made it. I continued working on another presentation for Wednesday, Dec 29.
  3. From Nick:  Today, we’ve added a new Search to which works just like magic!   It’s inspired by the plain but informative search at
    OpenStreetMap.In the top-center of your map, enter your query to search our database of
    people, groups, and deployments.  At the same time, you’ll also be searching Google Maps and social bookmarks at   The map will send you to the top result, and list other possible matches on the left. Quick Walkthrough:
    * Search for a person: Holt -> map centers on Adam Holt’s marker
    * Search for a group: Waveplace -> map shows their schools from Cambridge to the Caribbean – individual points appear in search
    * Search for a place: Boston -> sends you to Boston on Google Maps, lists several people
    * Google Maps helps : various spellings and phrasings for a place (such as Ayiti) are caught by Google Maps so you’ll see the place you meant
  4. From Adam: The 20-question OLPC/Sugar Deployment Map Trivia Contest has now begun!  Partial answers get full points (and prizes) if creative — but you have less than 48hrs:
    TUE 5PM – Peru ICT4D Short Film Premier, please join the filmmaker herself, Audubon Dougherty, followed by Q+A+Dinner!  Preview: 7PM – See how Deployment Aware You *Really* Are — and what you won?
    Feature Presentation: olpcMAP’s survey results analysis + 10 takeaways — by volunteerism researcher MZ
  5. UNTIL THEN… Let us know how works for you by contacting us online at to Help Everyone Map!
  6. Also see Nancie’s post

olpcMAP updates

 While I was working on creating surveys and collecting results, the rest of the team was working hard on other things, like Community Page of the map. Please let us know what you think  by contacting the team via Contact button on that page. This is a very collaborative project, so the ideas shown here are baked by several people, including

OLPC Connections from Shirish Goyal:

Sections on the right provide features such as Search, Connect to Volunteer, Ideas, My Neighborhood, and Profile of the Day. Each point in the map can have a separate profile page to showcase pictures, videos, stories, ideas, and expertise.

Clustering is present for collections of points within a small region, showing the number of total points in the cluster.

Bing Maps Example by Nick Doiron:

This is a starter example of olpcMAP’s open KML data used with a mapping service. A similar Google Kickstart Map is a quick starting point for using olpcMAP API with Google Maps.

You can download a file, and each time you open Google Earth it will update to the latest markers.  At the olpcMAP Sprint, expect to see a continuously updating globe of latest edits up on a big screen somewhere.

Developers can use the KML standard to add our markers to applications in Google Maps, Bing Maps, OpenLayers, CloudMade, or ArcGIS with only a few lines of code.  Just replace /json with /kml in API requests.

Integration suggestion by Adam Holt:

Twitter integration is very cool, let’s make sure / deployment connections / Mike Dawson’s unreleased (Realness Alliance) all 3 grow together (as rapidly as each are growing alone!) over the course of this weekend — strengthening all the cross-linkages we can, however we go about it!

Alongside/Later: the residing off — and David Farning’s “underground” growing very strongly on the deployment engineering side with over 5 impressive if part-time staff now 🙂

Other changes by Nick Doiron:
* The points which reveal dozens of deployments in Canada, South Carolina, Australia, and Nepal now have a distinct icon: the red double T.  It only loads points once (so you don’t have 2x points everywhere in a country).

* The deployments in Canada, South Carolina, Nepal, and Australia should soon appear in &map=image , and several of the first mapped deployments such as OLPCorps and Waveplace will follow.  &map=quick will be using a different strategy.®ion=Nepal

 * When Links and Contact were first added, they seemed a little out of place.  Hope you like the new style!  Click the name to return to what was known as the “Main” page.

* “Links” is now more than one link!  This helps users make use of &km-distance=, &region=, and &map=image URLs.

* Contact lets you know when you’ve sent a message, and gives friendlier error messages if it doesn’t know someone’s e-mail.

Also see  Social Toolbar Example and Tagging Example. I already tried Twitter and FB linkage and posted the following to FB: “Nick Doiron rocks!”  after I read his document on creating FAQ and A for different map users! For more info,  see Nick’s post

The olpcMAP Sprint Begins!


Blue Ocean Strategy for olpcMAP (Part Three) December 26, 2010

We had to set our priorities straight. Scalability was number one. Then we had to sort our ideas out. We have many of them, but what if we are creating cool unnecessary features that nobody will use? That is how we decided to create a Survey. By using certain logic we will not just know what users want to see on the map, but also learn about underlying motives for using the map.  We decided to send the survey to potential users, whom we divided in two groups, because they may have different needs (active volunteers and non-volunteers).  Then we decided to whom exactly and how to send the survey, how many questions and what questions exactly?

Where all content and storytelling is going? Where would people see references when they search for something? Should the map be floating or not? How can we incorporate games into the map? What do deployments really need? Lieutenants? Why people volunteer or not? How much engaged do they want to be? What do you see on the map? Etc. (Note: we sent the survey out on Fri, Dec 17 and collected results yesterday).

Then another big question was what do we need to focus on during our MAP Sprint? Potential areas:

  1. Security settings/validation, flagged content, updated content (less than 6 months – maybe brighter color), full name issue, creating document describing our privacy policy, Privacy issue, opt in/out – fix names (ask dots/people to correct their names and info)
  2. Beauty Contest – possibly to theme the event around a global MAP BEAUTY CONTEST where kids on every continents are *directly* encouraged to beautify their school.  What prize should we offer???  What imagery makes people’s IMAGINATIONS GO WILD, considering the event (in person and remote) mapmaking possibilities?   Like “Design contest for the developing world: save the rich world from itself”
  3. Beautify -work for individuals and deployments? Or regions? Creation of landmarks? List of must haves. Adding contact link. Adding clickable links to website info, videos??? (contact Bill, he has videos!) Adding tags/specialty focus. Adding interests/needs. Find good articles about them.
  4. Scalability, if not fixed earlier
  5. Blue Ocean Strategy – to announce results, so that participants and steering committee know what we really need and our competitive advantage
  6. User –friendly FAQ (by Nick) how to use it or manual to the map!
  7. Technical features (adding search by name, geo, tag, adding archive, search by archive, add when was last updated, different layers– see only volunteers or deployments)
  8. Storytelling (finding/writing description of deployments and best info about them, adding links/archive) Add sample work by students/schools?
  9. Promote the map during event and after (blogging, twitting, transcribing, video stream special moments), to have an open channel on suggestions for open issues and questions…for virtual participants
  10. GEO – Create a manual for any map or offline map activities to be uploaded and reviewed
  11. Authority levels -designate Admins, who resolve issues and have other responsibilities/goals
  12. Global OLPC trivia contest for both real and virtual participants of the Map Sprint

Map’s Scalability and More

Filed under: Volunteering — polyachka @ 5:03 pm
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

From Adam Holt 3 weeks ago:

    * Shirish has pushed us to open/expand our API & service model, the draft of which I’ve tweeted here — thanks to Nick:
    * The urgency of scaling from 200 landmarks to 2000 is not yet solved!
    * Consequently we’ll be working intensely on a server/community architecture, tested+ready well before participants arrive Mon Dec 27:
    * RSVP’s *are* required as this event is becoming much more popular that planned 😉
    * I hope to announce more Dec 27-31 housing+evening entertainment in a more formal MAP SPRINT invitation to the world this coming weekend — hoping including Marina’s simplified survey?!
    * Nick will have more time (and be much closer to Boston!) after his Fri Dec 10 final exam.  I will visit him in NH mid-Dec and invite others too!
    * Shirish will have a prototype alternative backend to show us approximately Sun Dec 5!!


* ndoiron has joined Support Gang Channel
* digitalmind) has joined Support Gang Channel
<CanoeBerry> ndoiron & digitalmind: please consider subscribing to open-source geospatial list:
<CanoeBerry> conf call notes: ndoiron discussing his current Google-based free-as-in-beer architecture.., and ndoiron discussing other options..
<CanoeBerry> google fusion tables scales better?
<CanoeBerry> too new?or should we consider an actual server hosted at FSF etc, as offered by bernie?
<CanoeBerry> shirish: can we publish map’s data model / more scalable backend architecture ideas..
<CanoeBerry> ndoiron replied, yes we must document this..
<CanoeBerry> ndoiron: “we want this to be a quickly-changing community..”
<digitalmind> non-relational databases – another option
<CanoeBerry> digitalmind: what 2 example non-relational DBs did you just mention by phone?
<digitalmind> no-sql & mongodb or couch db
<digitalmind> is the map source synched periodically at google code?
<CanoeBerry> 3 week deadline.
<CanoeBerry> shirish requests data model
<CanoeBerry> ndoiron: can you add data model / API description (or diagrams if you prefer) to by Saturday?
<CanoeBerry> Mike Lee and Ben Sheldon will be thrilled, if we can expose a bit more here by this wkd sometime.
<digitalmind> Exposing data as api, and also application data set as widgets with filtered information
<CanoeBerry> ndoiron has a final exam on Dec 10!And reports due Dec 6.
<CanoeBerry> Shirish wants to expose to more interfaces?
<CanoeBerry> ndoiron how explaining how simple is to date
<CanoeBerry> what you see in marker is what you get
<CanoeBerry> Shirish advocating more extensible platform.Exposing data in more ways.
<CanoeBerry> ndoiron has made progress here… he has been working on API this morning, beyond just URL params for custom maps.
<CanoeBerry> eg. ID of map’s landmark for data retrieval, but not abusive privacy-busting driftnet fishing..
<CanoeBerry> kfx: welcome, thanks for joining the call
<CanoeBerry> ndoiron: we don’t have private data at this point..
<CanoeBerry> kfx suggests layering on another server-level app for more sensitive volunteer data like phone numbers, ie. actual social network
<CanoeBerry> digitalmind suggests googlevoice integration
* dirakx) has joined Support Gang Channel
<kfx> sorry I was so late, my shower wouldn’t turn off.
<digitalmind> Nick : If you can share the database schema, it will help to flesh out something quickly.
<ndoiron> I’m writing it on the wiki, I will send a link soon
<digitalmind> thanks a lot
<ndoiron> right now the JSON api is returning an additional, empty point after each list.  I’ll check into why I did that and try to eliminate that. I’ll also change what is returned when you create a marker
<ndoiron> ^ both of the above issues should be resolved now


WikiMapia December 25, 2010

From Adam Holt:

Regardless of the fact I was talking at length with Russian support volunteer Nina Stawski last night — this is a critically important participatory-mapping precedent we need to study and learn from — I used them in 2006 and am Amazed they have not yet been clobbered/absorbed by Google 😉

WikiMapia is a privately owned, online map and satellite imaging resource that combines Google Maps with a wiki system, allowing users to add information, in the form of a note, to any location on Earth.[2] Users may currently use this information for free; however, contrary to popular belief, Wikimapia is not creative commons and they make explicitly clear in their terms of service agreement that they retain the right to impose fees or usage restrictions at any time.[3] Inspired by the success of Google Maps and Wikipedia, two Russian Internet entrepreneurs Alexandre Koriakine and Evgeniy Saveliev launched the website on May 24, 2006.[4] Its aim is to “describe the whole world”. It now has over 13,600,000 places marked.[5] Although registration is not required to edit or add to WikiMapia, over 996,253 users[6] from around the world currently are registered.[7] All content uploaded by users is currently made available for non-commercial use through Wikimapia API.[8]

The entire  article is worth pondering carefully; just 1 excerpt for now:

     Voting and user statistics

Users can vote in favor of or against other users’ contributions, thereby allowing users to rise in status among the community. There also is a user statistics and ranking board which automatically ranks users based on their contributions. However, vote tallies and user statistics have no impact on a user’s user-level.

[edit] User accounts and levels

Optional user accounts were introduced in October 2006.[14] User levels and permissions have evolved over time in response to the need to control vandalism or abuse. As explained in the WikiMapia FAQ, there are three user-levels.

  • User Level 0 (UL0): Level 0 is the default user level assigned to all new users. UL0 are able to add places, edit existing places, and use the personal messaging system. New users are temporarily prevented from posting in the forum.
  • User Level 1 (UL1): Users are automatically upgraded to UL1 after a few days. In addition to the regular UL0 functions, UL1 users are able to change polygons (place outlines), add roads, add rivers, add railroads, delete places, and contribute to the forum. The vast majority of Wikimapia contributors fall into this category.
  • User Level 2 (UL2): A few hundred registered WikiMapia users have been granted Level 2 access. UL2 permissions include functions which are vital to maintaining site security (such as the ability to initiate ban proceedings on vandals) and anti-vandalism efforts on the map itself (such as the ability to delete a greater number of tags, to protect tags against editing by unregistered users, and to quick-delete certain tags).

[edit] UL2 status

UL2 status may be one of the most misunderstood aspects of WikiMapia’s hierarchy, in part, because the process of promotion remains mysterious to most new users.[15] Level 2 permissions are granted solely at the discretion of WikiMapia Administrators (or site owners), and have been revoked in a few instances. Although Wikimapia Administrators have historically taken recommendations by senior users into account when promoting new users,[16] they have also occasionally acted unilaterally to demote UL2 users.

[edit] Clutter and filtering

In some areas of the world with out-of-date or very expensive mapping, such as India, WikiMapia growth has been phenomenally rapid. This rapid growth brought problems of its own, however. Urban areas became covered with thousands of overlapping rectangles marking the positions of private residences, but there was no provision in the WikiMapia interface for distinguishing those residences from places of public interest.


Congratulations, eKindling Philippines!

Even though this big launch took place on Dec 6, 2010, I want to post some pictures, links and congratulate the team that was working so hard for a long time to make it happen! Thank you for dreaming big and making difference in the world!

EKindling project in Philippines is

To all,

Sharing some photos from the formal launching

I personally like this pic

and the  media coverage

“We thought the best ideas happen in Manila. We thought things like these (the Education Kindling: OLPC program) only happen in a 1st class city where there are lots of money. To our great surprise, what we thought is only possible is already a reality in Lubang. I came here to see myself that it is true.” – Dep Ed Secretary Bro. Armin Luistro, FSC 7



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