Mobile tech + democracy = awesomeness

So I’m in this class called mobile journalism, and we’re doing a lot of cool stuff.

Liveblogging Arianna Huffington was only the beginning—we’ve Skype’d with people in Africa and Japan on the same day about how they use their phones, Skype’d with Kevin Thau, a VP of Twitter about (what else?) the future of Twitter, and now we’re designing the mobile presence of Chicago News Cooperative, the new nonprofit heavy-duty reporting outfit that covers the city for the New York Times.

Also my fridge project is for this class. Orion Magazine, whose photo project was inspiration for mine, has tweeted about me TWICE THREE TIMES. They’re my favorite mag and have been called the most important environmental magazine, so you should know I’m psyched. Feel free to follow my prof, Dan Sinker, on Twitter.

But interestingly enough, today I felt compelled to post because of the textbook for this class—Mobile Design and Development by Brian Fling. An excerpt:

The Estonian government will be putting the concept of media context to the test in their 2011 parliamentary elections, allowing citizens to vote for their leaders using SMS. In this case, the government can tabulate results instantly. But imagine a day when citizens can vote on local or national issues in real time, eschewing having to wait for traditional media to report on the effect of their vote, instead seeing the results in real time, as it happens.

There are already many opting to use the mobile media context in order to be heard. On the immensely popular television show American Idol, more votes were cast using a mobile phone in 2009 (178 million total text message votes) than votes cast in the 2008 presidential election (131 million ballots cast).

If that doesn’t deserve an “OMG,” I don’t know what does.

My idea: direct democracy. I think it’s possible with saturation of mobile.

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Header change

The dining room of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Westcott House, Springfield, Ohio. As was Wright’s custom, he designed the furniture in the house as well as the structure. This table with integrated electric lighting was re-created in the early 2000’s from Wright’s drawings. (Photo by me)

I decided to flip the header today, simply because I got bored with the last one. I don’t think I ever explained what it was—the roof of the abandoned building I lived in last summer.

Here’s the photo essay explaining THAT situation.

I plan to sell the story of the Westcott house to TRIP, the biennial travel publication of Brown Publishing’s southwest division. I’ll show you the spread when it’s printed.

Geohashing

“Now what?” This group of people found themselves at the same semi-random location in the middle of the British countryside one afternoon. Maybe they went to a pub! (Creative commons photo from the Flickr account of Yang “yangman” Zhao)

Imagine it: You want to meet new people and see new places. Whereas before, you’d maybe look up something to do in your local travel guide, or read the newspaper, or visit a travel agency… now things are totally different.

Now, for all intents and purposes, you throw a dart at a map and go to that place. (We want REAL adventure!)

What’s insane is that, at this exact random location, other people are going to be there. And, because you share the same sense of adventure—and in this case, the same nerdiness—you’ve just found yourself a new best bud or two, or a new significant other.

Screw bars. This rocks.

It’s called geohashing, and it’s the wave of the future, my friends. The Internet has become our extended reality, and in this instance, we’re simply reversing the roles: we’re using computers as our “home base” and extending our entertainment and socialization into the real world from it. This was inevitable; now it’s here.

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