Monthly Archives: August 2010

Another title for this post might have been “Here Come the Crowd-Sorcerers…” I’ll be following up with Crowd-Sorcerer sequels soon (to answer many readers who have been asking) but before  I do, I want to look at a prequel. In 2005, Charles Leadbeater gave what is without doubt one of my all time favorite TED Talks ever. The examples he shares—mountain bikes, telescopes and computer games—provide excellent insights into the opportunities and challenges that companies like Ushahidi face. This talk foretells what may very well be the future of crisis mapping.

If you don’t have 20 minutes to watch the talk, just continue reading since I tease out the most salient points in this post. Charles gave this talk in 2005, before Jeff Howe had even coined the term “crowdsourcing”;  before Brafman and Beckstrom’s book “Spider and the Starfish: The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations”; and way before Clay Shirky wrote his book “Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing without Organizations.”

Charles starts by asking: who invented the mountain bike?  Not a company with a large R&D team. Nor a lone innovative genius in some garage. The mountain bike came from young users in northern California who were frustrated by  heavy traditional bikes and old racing bikes. So they hacked a few bikes and voila, the mountain bike was born. But it wasn’t until 10-15 years later that a small company thought to create a business out of these hacked bikes. Today, mountain bike sales account for some 65% of the bike market in the US alone.

And so, the mountain bike was created entirely by consumers, not by the mainstream bike market because they didn’t see the need, opportunity or have the incentive to create the mountain bike.

Charles argues that it is now possible to “organize without organizations: you don’t need an organization to organize, to achieve large and complex tasks like innovating new software programs” (hint hint). He notes that people (previously consumers now producers) are  increasingly becoming the source of big disruptive ideas. Some of these individuals are amateurs so “they do what they do for the love of it but they want to do it to very high standards.” They take their leisure very seriously, they refine their skills, they invest their own time, etc. This has huge organizational implications for many sectors.

Take astronomy for example. Some 30 years ago, only professional astronomers with huge and very expensive telescopes could see far into space. Today, individuals using “open source” telescopes and the Internet can do what only professional astronomers could do and help discover new stars, meteors at virtually no cost. “So there is a huge competitive argument about sustaining capacity for open source and consumer-driven innovation because it is one of the greatest competitive levers against monopoly,” says Charles.

As a former journalist, Charles recounts from a personal view the significant change that has happened in his profession. He describes the thrill of seeing others in the subway reading his article. At the same time though, he notes that readers only had two places where they could contribute: letters to the editor or the op-ed page. In the case of the former, editors would select the ones they liked, cut them in half and print them three days later. As for op-eds, if readers “knew the editor, been to school with them, slept with their wife, then they could write an article for the op-ed page.”

“Shock horror now, the readers want to be writers and publishers. That’s not their role, they’re supposed to read what we write! But they don’t want to be journalists. The journalists think that the bloggers want to be journalists. They don’t want to be journalists. They just want to have a voice, they want to have a dialogue, a conversation. They want to be part of that flow of information.

So there’s going to be tremendous struggle. But also there’s going to be tremendous movement, from the closed to the open. What you’ll see is two things that are critical, and these are two challenges for the open movement. The first is, can we really survive on volunteers? If this is so critical, do we not need this funded, organized, supported in much more structured ways? Can we really organize that just on volunteers?

And finally, what you will see is the intelligent, closed organizations moving increasingly in the open direction. So it’s not going to be a contest between two camps, but in-between them you’ll find all sorts of interesting places that people will occupy. New organization models coming about, mixing closed and open in tricky ways. […] And those organizational models it turns out are incredibly powerful and the people who can understand them will be very very successful.”

Charles ends his presentation with a final example, the biggest computer games company in China with 250,000,000 subscribers. The CEO of the company only employs 500 people to service these gamers. “How can this be?” asks Charles?

“Because basically he doesn’t service them, he gives them a platform, he gives them some rules, he gives them the tools and then he kind of orchestrates the conversation, he orchestrates the action. But actually a lot of the content is created by the users themselves. And this creates a kind of stickiness between the community and the company which is really, really powerful. […] So this is about companies built on communities that provide communities with tools, resources platforms with which they can share.”

Wanted for Pakistan: A Turksourcing Plugin for Crisis Mapping

A few days after the Haiti earthquake, Ushahidi‘s Brian Herbert set up a dedicated website to crowdsource the translation and geo-location of text messages from Haitian Kreyol to English. This allowed thousands of volunteers from across the globe to help out in the disaster response. We need something similar for crisis mapping Pakistan but Mechanical Turk style.

I coined the term “turksourcing” a while back to mean crowdsourcing applied to micro-tasks. See this previous blog post for a quick introduction. A colleague from Pakistan recently launched this Crowdmap and short code to map flood related incidents. What I’d really like to see happen now is the development of a Turksourcing plugin for this and any other crisis mapping initiatives in Pakistan.

The idea would be to set up a simple website where incoming text messages could be pushed to for tagging and geo-location. Volunteers would use their email address and a password to access the platform. Once they login, they simply select an incoming SMS which they tag based on pre-set categories like those displayed on the Crowdmap for Pakistan. Volunteers would also map the location of the incident being reported. They would then press submit and move on to the next text message.

Each SMS would have to be validated by 3 or 5 volunteers before being officially mapped. This means that a given text message is only mapped if 3+ volunteers have each assigned the SMS the same tag(s) and approximate location. This is to ensure the quality of the data. If a given user consistently mis-tags/geo-locates incoming text messages, their contributions could be automatically ignored. (As opposed to barring them from the system which would prompt them to try and game it some other way).

Volunteers could also be awarded points for each correctly tagged and geo-located SMS. A public scoreboard could be displayed with the rank of most prolific volunteers to create further incentives to help out by rewarding turksourcing efforts. This introduces a gaming component to crisis mapping as I blogged about here. Colleagues of mine with Revision Labs in Seattle have termed  this “Playsourcing”.

The map below represents the location of volunteers who helped out with the Kreyol text messages in January. There’s no reason why we can’t rally volunteers around the world to do the same for the 20 million affected Pakistanis.

I have touched base with friends at Stanford, Crowdflower and with CrisisCommons and hope someone will be able to develop a quick turksourcing plugin for crisis mapping Pakistan and future disasters. Please do get in touch if you have bandwidth to take this on or help out. My email address is patrick at irevolution dot net.

The Crowd is Always There: A Marketplace for Crowdsourcing Crisis Response

This blog post is based on the recent presentation I gave at the Emergency Social Data Summit organized by the Red Cross this week. The title of my talk was “Collaborative Crisis Mapping” and the slides are available here.

What I want to expand on is the notion of a “marketplace for crowdsourcing” that I introduced at the Summit. The idea stems from my experience in the field of conflict early warning, the Ushahidi-Haiti deployment and my observations of the Ushahidi-DC and Ushahidi-Russia initiatives.

The crowd is always there. Paid Search & Rescue (SAR) teams and salaried emergency responders aren’t. Nor can they be on the corners of every street, whether that’s in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Washington DC or Sukkur, Pakistan. But the real first responders, the disaster affected communities, are always there. Moreover, not all communities are equally affected by a crisis. The challenge is to link those who are most affected with those who are less affected (at least until external help arrives).

This is precisely what PIC Net and the Washington Post did when they  partnered to deploy this Ushahidi platform in response to the massive snow storm that paralyzed Washington DC earlier this year. They provided a way for affected residents to map their needs and for those less affected to map the resources they could share to help others. You don’t need to be a professional disaster response professional to help your neighbor dig out their car.

More recently, friends at Global Voices launched the most ambitious crowdsourcing initiative in Russia in response to the massive forest fires. But they didn’t use this Ushahidi platform to map the fires. Instead, they customized the public map so that those who needed help could find those who wanted to help. In effect, they created an online market place to crowdsource crisis response. You don’t need professional certification in disaster response to drive someone’s grandparents to the next town over.

There’s a lot that disaster affected populations can (and already do) to help each other out in times of crisis. What may help is to combine the crowdsourcing of crisis information with what I call crowdfeeding in order to create an efficient market place for crowdsourcing response. By crowdfeeding, I mean taking crowdsourced information and feeding it right back to the crowd. Surely they need that information as much if not more than external, paid responders who won’t get to the scene for hours or days.

We talk about top-down and bottom-up approaches. Crowdfeeding is a “bottom-bottom” approach; horizontal, meshed communication for local rapid response. Information of the crowd, by the crowd and for the crowd. For the marketplace to work at the technical level, users should easily be able to map their needs or map the resources they have to help others. They should be able to do this via webform, SMS, Twitter, smart phone apps, phone call, etc.

But users shouldn’t have to keep looking back at the map to check whether anyone has posted offers to help in their area, or vice versa. They should get an automated email and/or text message when a potential match is found. The matching should be done by a simple algorithm, a for crowdsourcing crisis response. (Just like online dating, users should take appropriate precautions when contacting their match). On a practical level, this marketplace will work best if it draws many traders. That’s why the data should be easily shared across platforms.

During the Summit, the Red Cross presented findings from this study which revealed that 75% of people now expect an almost-immediate response after posting a call for help on a social media platform during a disaster. The Red Cross and other humanitarian organizations are particularly troubled by this figure. They shouldn’t be. As the Head of FEMA noted at the summit, it is high time that crisis response organizations start viewing the public as part of the team. One way to make them part of the team is to create an open marketplace for crowdsourcing crisis response.

Is Ushahidi a Liberation Technology?

Professor Larry Diamond, one of my dissertation advisers, recently published a piece on “Liberation Technology” (PDF) in the Journal of Democracy in which he cites Ushahidi and FrontlineSMS amongst other tools. Is Ushahidi really a liberation technology?

Larry recently set up the Program on Liberation Technology at Stanford University together with colleagues Joshua Cohen and Terry Winograd to catalyze more rigorous, applied research on the role of technology in repressive environments—both in terms of liberation and repression. This explains why I’ll be joining the group as a Visiting Fellow this year. The program focuses on the core questions I’m exploring in my dissertation research and ties in technologies like Ushahidi which I’m directly working on.

What is Liberation Technology? Larry defines this technology as,

“… any form of information and communication technology (ICT) that can expand political, social, and economic freedom. In the contemporary era, it means essentially the modern, interrelated forms of digital ICT—the computer, the Internet, the mobile phone, and countless innovative applications for them, including “new social media” such as Facebook and Twitter.”

As is perfectly well known, however, technology can also be used to repress. This should not be breaking news. Liberation Technology vs Digital Repression. My dissertation describes this competition as an arms-race, a cyber game of cat-and-mouse. But the technology variable is not the most critical piece, as I argue in this recent Newsweek article:

“The technology variable doesn’t matter the most,” says Patrick Meier […] “It is the organizational structure that will matter the most. Rigid structures are unable to adapt as quickly to a rapidly changing environment as a decentralized system. Ultimately, it is a battle of organizational theory.”

As Larry writes,

“Democrats and autocrats now compete to master these technologies. Ultimately, however, not just technology but political organization and strategy and deep-rooted normative, social, and economic forces will determine who ‘wins’ the race.”

That is precisely the hypothesis I am testing in my dissertation research. As the Newsweek article put it,

“The only way to stay ahead in this cyberwar, though, is to play offense, not defense. ‘If it is a cat-and-mouse game,’ says Meier of Ushahidi, ‘by definition, the cat will adopt the mouse’s technology, and vice versa.’ His view is that activists will have to get better at adopting some of the same tactics states use. Just as authoritarian governments try to block Voice of America broadcasts, so protest movements could use newer technology to jam state propaganda on radio or TV.”

Larry rightly notes that,

“In the end, technology is merely a tool, open to both noble and nefarious purposes. Just as radio and TV could be vehicles of information pluralism and rational debate, so they could also be commandeered by totalitarian regimes for fanatical mobilization and total state control. Authoritarian states could commandeer digital ICT to a similar effect. Yet to the extent that innovative citizens can improve and better use these tools, they can bring authoritarianism down—as in several cases they have.”

A bold statement for sure. But as Larry recognizes, it is particularly challenging to disentangle political, social and technology factors. This is why more empirical research is needed in this space which is largely limited to qualitative case-studies. We need to bring mixed-methods research to the study of digital activism in repressive environments. This is why I’m part of the Meta-Activism Project (MAP) and why I’m particularly excited to be collaborating on the development of a Global Digital Activism Dataset (GDADS).

Larry writes that Liberation Technology is also “Accountability Technology” in that “it provides efficient and powerful tools for transparency and monitoring.” This is where he describes the FrontlineSMS and Ushahidi platforms. In some respects, these tools have already served as liberation technologies. The question is, will innovative citizens improve these tools and use them more effectively to be able to bring down dictators? I’d love to know your thoughts.

Patrick Philippe Meier

Here Come the Crowd-Sorcerers: “No We Can’t, No We Won’t” says Muggle Master

Sigh indeed. Yawn, even.

The purpose of this series is not to make it about Paul and Patrick. That’s boring as heck. The idea behind the series was not simply to provoke and use humorous analogies but to dispel confusion about crowdsourcing and thereby provide a more informed understanding of this methodology. I fear this is getting completely lost.

Recall that it was a humanitarian colleague who came up with the label “Crowd Sorcerer”. It made me laugh so I figured we’d have a little fun by using the label Muggle in return. But that’s all it is, good fun. And of course many humanitarians see eye to eye with the Crowd Sorcerer approach, so apologies to those who felt they were wrongly placed in the Muggle category. We’ll use the Sorting Hat next time.

Henry and Erik from Ushahidi

This is not about a division between Crowd Sorcerers and Muggles. As a colleague recently noted, “the line lies somewhere else, between effective implementation of new tools and methodologies versus traditional ways of collecting crisis information.” There are plenty of humanitarians who see value in trying out new approaches. Of course, there are some who simply say “No We Can’t, No We Won’t.”

There’s no point going back and forth with Paul on every one of his issues because many of these have actually little to do with crowdsourcing and more to do with him being provoked. In this post, I’m going to stick to the debate about the in’s and out’s of crowdsourcing in humanitarian response.

On Verification

Muggle Master: And of course the way in which Patrick interprets those words bears little relation to what those words actually said, which is this: “Unless there are field personnel providing “ground truth” data, consumers will never have reliable information upon which to build decision support products.”

I disagree. Again, the traditional mindset here is that unless you have field personnel (your own people) in charge, then there is no way to get accurate information. This implies that the disaster affected populations are all liars, which is clearly untrue.

Verification is of course important—no one said the contrary. Why would Ushahidi be dedicating time and resources to the Swift platform if the group didn’t think that verification was important.

The reality here is that verification is not always possible regardless of which methodology is employed. So it boils down to this: is having information that is not immediately verified better than having no information at all? If your answer is yes or “it depends”, then you’re probably a Crowd Sorcerer. If your answer is, “lets try to test some innovative ways to make rapid verification possible,” then again, you likely are a Crowd Sorcerer/ette.

Incidentally, no one I know has advocated for the use of crowdsourced data at the expense of any other information. Crowd Sorcerers and (many humanitarians) are simply suggesting that it be considered one of multiple feeds. Also, as I’ve argued before, a combined approach of bounded and unbounded crowdsourcing is the way to go.

On Impact Evaluation

The Fletcher Team has commissioned an independent evaluation of the Ushahidi deployment in Haiti to go beyond the informal testimonies of success provided by first responders. This is a four-week evaluation lead by Dr. Nancy Mock, a seasoned humanitarian and M&E expert with over 30 years of experience in the humanitarian and development field.

Nathan Morrow will be working directly with Nancy. Nathan is a geographer who has worked extensively on humanitarian and development information systems. He is a member of the European Evaluation Society and like Nancy a member of the American Evaluation Association. Nathan and Nancy will be aided by a public health student who has several years of experience in community development in Haiti and is a fluent Haitian Creole speaker.

The evaluation team has already gone through much of the data and been in touch with many of the first responders as well as other partners. Their job is to do as rigorous an evaluation  as possible and do this fully transparently. Nancy plans to present her findings publicly at the 2010 Crisis Mappers Conference where we’ve dedicated a roundtable to reviewing these findings, as well as other reviews.

As for background, the ToR (available here) was drafted by graduate students specializing in M&E and reviewed closely by Professor Cheyanne Church, who teaches advanced graduate courses on M&E. She is considered a leading expert on the subject. The ToR was then shared on a number of listserves including the ReliefWeb, CrisisMappers Group and Pelican (a listserve for professional evaluators).

Nancy and Nathan are both experienced in the method known as utilization-focused evaluation (UFE), an approach chosen by The Fletcher Team to ensure that the evaluation is useful to all primary users as well as the humanitarian field. The UFE approach means that the ToR is a living document and being adapted as necessary by the evaluators to ensure that the information gathered is useful and actionable, not just interesting.

We don’t have anything to hide here, Muggles. This was a complete first in terms of live crisis mapping and mobile crowdsourcing. Unlike the humanitarian community, we weren’t prepared at all, nor trained, nor had prior experience with live crisis mapping and mobile crowdsourcing, nor with the use of crowdsourcing for near real-time translation, nor with managing hundreds of unpaid volunteers, nor did the vast majority of them have any background in disaster response, nor were most able to focus on this full time because of their under/graduate coursework and mid-term exams, nor did they have direct links or contacts with first responders prior to the deployment, nor did the many responders know they existed and/or who they were. In sum, they had all the odds stacked against them.

If the evaluation shows that the deployment and the Fletcher Team’s efforts didn’t save lives or are unlikely to have saved any lives, rescued people, had no impact, etc., none of us will dispute this. Will we give up? Of course not, Crowd Sorcerers don’t give up. We’ll learn and do better next time.

One of the main reasons for having this evaluation is not only to assess the impact of the deployment but to create a concrete list of lessons learned so that what didn’t work then is more likely to work in the future. The point here is to assess the impact just as much as it is to assess the potential added value of the approach for future deployments.

How can anyone innovate in a space riddled with a “No We Can’t, No We Won’t” mindset? Trial and error is not allowed, iterative learning and adaptation is as illegal as the dark arts. Some Muggles really need to read this post “On Technology and Learning, or Why the Wright Brothers Did Not Create the 747.” If die-Hard Muggles had had their way, they would have forced the brothers to close up shop after just their first attempt because it “failed.”

Incidentally, the majority of development, humanitarian, aid, etc., projects are never evaluated in any rigorous or meaningful way (if at all, even). But that’s ok because these are double (Muggle) standards.

On Communicating with Local Communities

Concerns over security need not always be used as an excuse for not communicating with local communities. We need to find a way not to exclude potentially important informants. A little innovation and creative thinking wouldn’t hurt. Humanitarians working with Crowd Sorcerers could use SMS to crowdsource reports, triangulate as best as possible using manual means combined with Swift River, cross-reference with official information feeds and investigate reports that appear the most clustered and critical.

That way, if you see a significant number of text messages reporting the lack of water in an area of Port-au-Prince then at least this gives you an indication that something more serious may be happening in that location and you can cross-reference your other sources to check whether the issue has already been picked up. Again, it’s this clustering affect that can provide important insights on a given situation.

This would provide a mechanism to allow Haitians to report problems (or complaints for that matter) via SMS, phone, etc. Imogen Wall and other experienced humanitarians have long called for this to change. Hence the newly founded group Communicating with Disaster Affected Communities (CDAC).

Confusion to the End

Me: Despite what some Muggles may think, crowdsourcing is not actually magic. It’s just a methodology like any other, with advantages and disadvantages.

Muggle Master: That’s exactly what “Muggles” think.

Haha, well if that’s exactly what Muggles think, then this is yet more evidence of confusion in the land of Muggles. Crowdsourcing is just a methodology to collect information. There’s nothing new about non-probability sampling. Understanding the  advantages and disadvantages of this methodology doesn’t require an advanced degree in statistical physics.

Muggle Master: Crowdsourcing should not form part of our disaster response plans because there are no guarantees that a crowd is going to show up. Crowdsourcing is no different from any other form of volunteer effort, and the reason why we have professional aid workers now is because, while volunteers are important, you can’t afford to make them the backbone of the operation. The technology is there and the support is welcome, but this is not the future of aid work.

This just reinforces what I’ve already observed, many in the humanitarian space are still confused about crowdsourcing. The crowd is always there. Haitians were always there. And crowdsourcing is not about volunteering. Again, crowdsourcing is just a methodology to collect information. When the UN does it’s rapid needs assessment does the crowd all of a sudden vanish into thin air? Of course not.

As for volunteers, the folks at Fletcher and SIPA are joining forces to work together on deploying live crisis mapping projects in the future. They’re setting up their own protocols, operating procedures, etc. based on what they’ve learned over the past 6 months in order to replicate the “surge mapping capacity” they demonstrated in response to Haiti and Chile. (Swift River will make the need for a large number of volunteers unnecessary).

And pray tell who in the world has ever said that volunteers should be the backbone of a humanitarian operation? Please, do tell. That would be a nice magic trick.

Muggle Master: “The technology is there and the support is welcome, but this is not the future of aid work.”

The support is welcome? Great! But who said that crowdsourcing was the future of aid work? It’s just a methodology. How can one sole methodology be the future of aid work?

I’ll close with this observation. The email thread that started this Crowd-Sorcerer series ended with a second email written by the same group that wrote the first. That second email was far more constructive and conducive to building bridges. I’m excited by the prospects expressed in this second email and really appreciate the positive tone and interest they expressed in working together. I definitely look forward to working with them and learning more from them as we proceed forward in this space and collaboration.

Patrick Philippe Meier

Here Come the Crowd-Sorcerers: Highlighting Some Misunderstandings

Welcome back, folks. Here is the third episode in our “Crowd-Sorcerers Series.” You can read the first episode on “How Technology is Disrupting the Humanitarian Space and Why It’s Easy” right here. The second episode, which in a tongue-in-cheek way asks “Is it Possible to Teach an Old (Humanitarian) Dog New Tech’s?” is available here. Those episodes will highlight what this new “Crowd-Sorcerer Series” is all about.

Oh, but just before we go to episode 3, it seems someone following this series doesn’t appear to have the good sense to recognize the sarcasm and humorous tone in my posts and thereby  missed the point entirely. I’m just using these silly analogies and metaphors to get some points across. I’m drawing a caricature, so to speak, as some of these points often get overlooked in aid/dev speak.

This is not personal at all, and I very much welcome an open conversation with all interested, i.e, the point of this series. A Muggles and Crowd-Sorcerer comparison is just for fun, it isn’t about classy/not-classy, it’s about getting a point or two across to more than just a narrow segment of the aid/dev industry. So again, like I wrote in my first blog post in the series, lets please not take ourselves too seriously, ok?

Muggles: Internet-based platforms may be generating good data within a certain segment of the IT community, such as Open Street Maps, and others like Ushahidi are providing an interesting alternative to real-time news channels, but this data is not getting to where it is needed in an operational sense – the guy/gal sitting in the tent with no Internet connection trying to plan a (name your Cluster/sector/need) survey.

The Ushahidi platform allows end-users to subscribe to alerts via SMS. And that core feature is not new to the Haiti deployment, it’s been there for a good while. Not only can users get automated SMS alerts with the Haiti deployment, but they can also define exactly the type of alerts they wish to receive by setting geographic parameters, tags and even keywords. Thanks to a new plugin for the Ushahidi platform, visual voicemail is also an option for the Ushahidi platform.

In addition, a group deploying the Ushahidi platform can respond to incoming text messages directly from the same interface, allowing for near real-time, two-way communication with the disaster affected communities. See this blog post to find out how that all works.

By the way, not all guys/gals will be sitting in a tent and/or have no Internet access. Also, not all data need to go to guys/gals in tents in the first place.

On Ushahidi being an alternative to real-time news channels, the vast majority of the information mapped on the Haiti platform during the 5 days (before the 4636 SMS short code) came from:

  1. Mainstream media (television, radio, online newspapers)
  2. The Haitian Diaspora
  3. Social media (Twitter, Facebook, Flickr)
  4. Humanitarian sources (emails, situation reports, skype chats, phone calls)

One member of the Diaspora had this to say: “We are the country’s middle and upper class and Haitians living abroad. We do we monitor the Haiti radio, Facebook feeds and Twitter from all our contacts. Filter it and redistribute it […]. We also have a few contacts on the ground in Haiti. All the information we post has been confirmed to the best of our ability.” (Thanks to Rob Munro of Mission 4636 for sharing this).

Muggles: The crucial link that is required, and that the [Humanitarian Information Management] community seems to be drifting farther and farther from as we are collectively distracted by shiny objects and/or the latest, greatest thing since sliced bread, is field-based NGOs equipped with proper information-sharing platform(s) that can be used even when there is no Internet connectivity or Washington-based (or London-based or Paris-based) IT, mapping and GIS skills and support available.

Mobile pones are not new and shiny. Nor is Google Maps. Integrating both is not new either, SMS/map integration has been around for half-a-decade. The fact that the humanitarian community faces a challenge in innovating and keeping up with technology is certainly a problem. Free and open source platforms wouldn’t be filling a technology-information void if a gap didn’t exist in the first place.

Crowd-Sorcerers want to help (the ones I know at least) and they realize full well that they’re new to this space and don’t have all the answers. They want (and actually) do partner with a number of humanitarian organizations on joint projects. But are the rest of the Muggles ready to join forces with sorcerers? Or will it take a disaster like Voldermort to make that happen? (Just in case someone missed the humorous tone here, that was a joke). Incidentally, I never mentioned the humanitarian organization (from the email thread) in my blog posts. So they are completely anonymous unless they choose otherwise.

Actually, the same Muggles that started the email exchange wrote a second email which was far, far more constructive and conducive to building bridges between Muggles and Crowd-Sorcerers than other humanitarians. I’m excited by the prospects and really appreciate the positive tone and interest they expressed in working together. I definitely look forward to working with them and learning more from them as we proceed forward in this space and collaboration.

Patrick Philippe Meier