taarifa_boston_hack

Hacking Tanzanian Water Systems with Taarifia

I had the pleasure of working on a very excellent project this week. A little over a year ago, I was introduced to Taarifa, a Tanzanian project which aims to make potable water available to all.

I met Taarifa at the Hackathon for Disaster Response 2.0 in Birmingham, UK. When last we left Taarifa, it was moving from a service called Ushahidi to a custom built API. To this task, I suggested a distributed method of hosting and data sharing with custom APIs built in Python+Flask called Data Anywhere. It appears that Taarifa has gone that route, and created their own API in Python+Flask! See the code on GitHub.

(Read more about why this is a good idea on my post about Data Anywhere, or check out the Data Anywhere Website.)

Over the three day hackathon, I created a mock-up for the Taarifa system’s potential front-end. This was based off of the field reports gathered by the awesome Willow (@willowbl00) and discussions from other folks who worked on this project for over the past few years. So now, let’s talk a bit about what Taarifa is and what its use cases are.  Continue reading

chart-1-occupy-feature

Occupy’s Percarious Plualism, a Report

I’ve been credited in the following report done by James Owens.

Click here to download the PDF

Click here to download the PDF

There is some very interesting data in here, I’ll share some quotes and graphs from the document.

The movement helped build democratic power
in the form of alliances across social divides reinforced by the ruling order. The network of allies brought together by Occupy organizing in NYC in the first half of 2012 displayed the kind of inclusion across differences of race, class, and social identity that characterize democratic pluralism. The study found Occupy organizing in NYC enabled a pluralistic network of alliances connecting over 200 non-profits, emerging grassroots groups, religious organizations, and incorporated businesses with over 120 Occupy groups. Those partners described themselves and their constituents using a broad range of marginalized as well as professional identities.

This provides evidence that Occupy was much more inclusive than is commonly believed.

Of the 124 political projects analyzed in this study only 2 sought to create or revive Occupy assemblies along the lines of the New York General Assembly (NYCGA) or Spokes Council. That so few projects sought to produce GA style authority structures does not support conclusions that the leading purpose of OWS or the NYC Occupy movement was to produce large consensus structures. Another finding that challenges common claims about the movement is that only 4 projects in the sample sought to produce alternative systems compared to 21 projects producing campaigns to reform existing financial, education, legislative, and electoral systems. This contradicts generalizations of OWS or the NYC Occupy movement as primarily an exercise in prefigurative politics, that is, more an attempt to produce alternative systems than to reform existing systems.

Keep in mind that this data is focused on self reporting groups. The more radical factions of OWS probably didn’t report themselves as revolutionary. Though I think this information should put to bed the idea the OWS is a strickly revolutionary movement. Which, in my humble opinion, is a irrelevant and tired debate.

chart-1-occupy-priorities-9This chart reflects the stated priorities of OWS groups. While the one below looks at some specific groups and the racial and income identities they brought together.

chart-1-occupy-partners-13This chart is interesting in so far as it shows that very few groups bridged the upper and lower income, while the middle income went both ways.

I’m happy to have an internal report like this that can back up my experience from within the movement that was very diverse. It was my pleasure to help (in some small way) bring this into the world.