RHoKSoton did it again

rhok2For the 5th time globally and for the 3rd time in Southampton, 30+ cities came together over the past weekend to work on problems related to humanity and the environment. Even though I had already organized the last two Random Hacks of Kindness events, setting up this one proved much more challenging due to changes in my professional life and a recent family extension.

However, helped by Alejandro of HackaSoton, the the awesome DigiChamps (Olja, Nader) and Dominic from SUSU.tv we still managed to pull it off. Exams still in full swing meant the turnout was lower than expected but, as I always say, the good people were there.

We had a number problem statements from Medecins Sans Frontieres (through Ben Holt), as well as from Konekta (through Mark Herringer), and, of course, Taarifa. Three teams started working but only two made it through the whole weekend. The first was Mindful Music, led by Mark Blackwell, and worked on music therapy for Alzheimers. The second was on Taarifa and they were working remotely from the Hub in London.

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3rd RHoK from the South

rhoksoton211First we RHoKed it, then we RHoKed it again and now I’m happy to announce I will running the 3rd global RHoK in Southampton as well. Again with help from Alejandro Saucedo and HackaSoton.

During the weekend of 1-2 June 2013, The University of Southampton will be one of the satellite cities as part of the global Random Hacks of Kindness Event!

Click here for the detailed programme

Twitter hashtag: #rhoksoton

Eventbrite - Random Hacks of Kindness (RHoK) Southampton


* Updates:


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Friendly Drones

convdronesThere is so much polemic surrounding the use of drones these days that it can get frustrating for somebody who also sees the positive contributions the technology can make. Never mind the great potential unmanned technology has for driving innovation and getting youngsters interested in STEM (something that is severely needed).

Of course there are lots of questions to be raised about the use of unmanned systems (and remotely piloted aircraft in particular) in military conflict. These topics have been, and still are, debated at length in the media, wikipedia, and blogs such as DroneWarsUK. Instead, like Drones For Good, I will focus on some of the positive projects the technology has enabled in the humanitarian, environmental, and social space. I am not the only one who would welcome more balanced coverage here.

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ICT4D and me

3332044876_9c1866b997A couple of months ago I was asked by somebody at the Global South Forum to give a talk about some technology related topic. My initial idea was to talk about Taarifa but after some thought I decided to open it up more and talk about the wider ICT4D field. In particular related to my own experiences and assumptions.

I have been wrestling with the whole concept of ICT4D for some time and thought it would be a good opportunity to engage with “the experts”.

My slides are below. Though they contain very little text the narrative should be clear from the pictures. As background reading I strongly suggest Can Technology end Poverty from Kentaro Toyama and The Subtle Condescension of “ICT4D” by  Erik Hersman.

We RHoKed it. Again.

rhokallThe past weekend saw the 4th edition of the global Random Hacks of Kindess (RHoK) event where 30+ cities and 3000+ participants all over the world dedicated a weekend of their time to work on problems related to humanity and the environment.

I organized the first Southampton edition in June which was so well received I organized the December edition this past weekend as well. This time with some great help from Alejandro of HackaSoton. For more information on the concept of a RHoK event see the FAQ I wrote earlier.

Footage of the event can be found on Flickr (here and here), Instagram, and Youtube.

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RLabs, Creating Hope

Today I was lucky enough to attend a seminar by Marlon Parker, founder of RLabs. I had never heard of either before but my interest was sparked by the mention of ICT4D (something I have been into for a while) and a cursory browse on the website.

Organized by the kind folks of the Global South Forum it was well worth attending. From the RLabs website:

Reconstructed Living Lab (RLabs) is a global movement and registered Social Enterprise that provides innovative solutions to address various complex problems. It creates an environment where people are empowered to make a difference in the lives of others. The RLabs “main hub” is in Athlone, Cape Town but have activity in the United Kingdom, Europe, Asia and Central Africa with a goal of reaching all continents by 2012.

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The RHoK FAQ

With the next Random Hacks of Kindness event looming and me organizing a satellite event here in Southampton, UK I found I have been writing a lot of similar emails and violating the DRY principle at every turn.

The purpose of this post is to put a stop to that. Eventually this should merge into an official FAQ on the rhok.org site (as far as I know there isn’t one currently).

Please let me know if there is stuff I should add/improve.
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License to RHoK, Dec 1-2, Southampton, UK

After the great success and feedback of the previous global RHoK event in Southampton I decided to organize the next one as well. This time around kindly helped out by Alejandro Saucedo from HackaSoton.

During the weekend of 1-2 December 2012, The University of Southampton will be one of the satellite cities as part of the global Random Hacks of Kindness Event!

Like in June it looks like we will be the only UK event so let that be an extra motivation!

Click here for the detailed programme

Twitter hashtag: #rhoksoton

Eventbrite - RHoK Global December 2012: Southampton, UK


* Updates:


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Diving into Data

Since about half a year my podcast subscriptions includes RCE-Cast, an interesting show run by very knowledgable hosts about HPC related topics. One of their more recent episodes was on the Datadive project by Datakind.

From the website:

DataKind brings together leading data scientists with high impact social organizations through a comprehensive, collaborative approach that leads to shared insights, greater understanding, and positive action through data in the service of humanity.

I liked the idea and, while I have plenty of scuba diving experience, data diving was not something I was very familiar with. The problems I have worked on so far have pretty much always been big CPU vs big data. Thus I followed their Twitter feed and signed up to the London event (first in the UK/Europe?) when I heard about it.

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The State of Africa

This post collects my thoughts on a book I just finished reading. The State of Africa by Martin Merdith. Its taken me a long time to read but that has nothing to do with the book, rather with the events in my own life.

The book covers the evolution of the African continent since independence (50 years or so). Its a mammoth undertaking and I think Merdith did a great job pulling it off.

The book itself was an impulse buy at Heathrow Airport. Having grown up in Africa I feel connected with the continent and thought it was only right I educate myself more about its history.

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