heather from ushahidi

Heather came along to a hack day eco^2 set up at the Hub Westminster. She comes from ushahidi, and she is quite a remarkable person.

If one does not have judgement, it only takes a second to tell how judgemental a person is when they engage — it is as if they introduce the division of mind, the fine line of distinction which cuts value, and thus separate you from them. And though Heather was quite pro-active, and has a decisive manner of engagement, she had no hint of this at a deeper level of being. She is remarkably patient, a rare thing for the kind of person who likes to get things done. At least, that’s my perception.

The hack day was part of mozilla’s attempt to outreach, to get kids to learn coding, for people to become more aware of what the internet can offer, as well as inform them as to its current state. Although many of us now using the internet are taking it for granted, and although the pioneering days of the net are far from over, the explosive power of the internet over the last decade has reached its limit and is now falling back into the orbit of traditional geo-politico-economics. Consider the replication of the chinese firewall by different countries seeking ways to regulate the internet, various international attempts to regulate like SOPA et al, and the domestication of the wild days of the net to the walled gardens of facebook, the compartmentalisation of OSX and the shrink-wrapped comfort of the world of apps. Like the european “pioneers” who reached the west coast of north america, coders have met met the boundaries of http. There will continue to be open source spaces, but the wild-lands will be shrunk, just like they are in the natural habitats we have in the world.

We were joined by a few hackers, Slayer from Taiwan, Nico who works in city finance and a copyright lawyer Betty, but the conversation regarding economic ecology did not catch their attention. Only Heather with her experience in crisis relief, where the crowdmapping software of ushahidi was found to be the most efficient way to align efforts in disasters such as at Haiti (check out this ny times article), whose work has brought her in contact with some of the largest global players, government bodies, ngos, csr, has had time to reflect upon and appreciate the big picture. These are critical times, and we are aware of the decisions being made. The difference between us, Heather and I, is that Heather is actively involved in attempting to engage the powers that be, whereas I wish to approach them with a methodology which converts their system to open source and the commons. To do so, I need as much proof and evidence as the crowdmapping software has had in crisis points globally, where results count way more than words, models, theories, and talk talk talk.

So, we now have eco^crowdmap though I am not sure how to integrate this with the google forms I am currently using to track mttp and see contracts. And though we had a good engagement, we chose to take a deep strategic path rather than getting down to coding anything concrete. Strategic engagement between doers requires greater presence of mind, deeper trust, and protocols of engagement that fully realises the potential between people through deep trust, despite not knowing one another personally.

Did we manage it, Heather and I? I do not know. Certainly, to produce results with companies on their leading edge of marketing and sales, will prove or not the efficacy of the eco^2 methodology.

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