Category Archives: e-Advocacy

Catchall category for eGovernment, eCivics and engagement with the democratic process through technology.

Next Geek Dinner, Wednesday, March 21st at AS220 – Featuring Tom Hoffman of the SchoolTool Project

Photo Credit: Bret A. Ancowitz, M.D. of Garris Photography

Wednesday, March 21, 2007, 5:30pm – 9pm+
AS220
115 Empire Street, Providence, RI

The March Geek Dinner will feature a presentation by long-time Providence Geek Tom Hoffman. Tom will present SchoolTool, the open source project he manages, and discuss free software philanthropy. Details here. Tom is a very smart guy, doing important work at the center of the open source movement – yup, you’ll want to be there Wednesday.

Please RSVP in the comments section of this post so that we can give the good folks at AS220 an estimated headcount. And while you’re at it, subscribe to Providence Geeks’ RSS feed (see sidebar) and/or join our very-low-volume email announcement list (for the announcement list, send an email to Jack Templin, jtemplin over at Gmail with your name and affiliation).

As always, for first-timers here are the details on the Geek Dinners:

  • It’s totally casual. Wear whatever, bring whoever, arrive and vamoose whenever… And don’t worry about eating or not – come famished or full – eating is optional, and frankly, the least of the festivities (that’s not say the food isn’t good—it’s actually great).
  • Topics of conversation will vary as they will at any gathering of geeks, but many of us will be talking about AJAX, mash-ups, start-ups, new devices, innovative business models, interaction design, social computing, digital art, web services, etc. etc. etc.
  • Food and beverages are for sale at the adjoining Taqueria Pacifica and bar.
  • There is WiFi so bring your connected device of choice.
Advertisements

PBN Bids Farewell To Jim Willis: "IT Pioneer Leaving R.I. this Month"

At the last Geek Dinner, we bid farewell to Providence Geek and e-government advocate/expert extraordinaire Jim Willis.

The Providence Business NewsDavid Ortiz has written an excellent article highlighting Jim’s tenor at the helm of RI Secretary of State’s e-goverment services initiative. Here’s an excerpt:

[Willis], who was recruited by Brown in 2003 as director of e-government services, transformed the inner workings of the office’s Web site – www.state.ri.us – from the standard proprietary software to open-source code. The results have won national recognition while also making official information more accessible to the state’s citizens – exactly what Willis had in mind when he made the switch. “If you want a transparent government,� he said, “well, let’s run it on transparent software.�

The print-version of the article includes a photo of Jim along with fellow Secretary of State IT staffer and Providence Geek Christopher Fowler.

E-Advocacy Leader CitizenSpeak to Present at the Dec. 6th Geek Dinner

CitizenSpeak Logo

What do you want for the Holidays? Eco-friendly legislation? Better schools? Subsidies for open source software? At the December 6th Providence Geeks Dinner, CitzenSpeak founder and Providence Geek Jo Lee will present their free email advocacy service for grassroots organizations.

Inspired by MoveOn email campaigns, CitizenSpeak offers a free way to let a lot of people tell someone that they’re mad as hell. By doing so, CitizenSpeak has enabled civic activists across the country to educate representatives about local and national issues, promote causes and build their lists. Recently listed in the Wall Street Journal as a recommended online tool for social change, CitizenSpeak and its developer, George Hotelling have won a number of prestigious awards, including the Tides Foundation award for the best open source software in the public space, and a Webby honoree award. The code that runs CitizenSpeak is available as a free module on Drupal.

Holiday Bonus: Jim Willis will talk about how CitizenSpeak can take advantage of the webservice API’s offered by the RI Secretary of State’s office.

Last Geek Dinner of 2006–Wed. Dec. 6th at AS220–Starring CitizenSpeak

ProvGeek-December 2006.jpg
Photo Credit: Bret A. Ancowitz, M.D. of Garris Photography

Wednesday, December 6, 2006, 5:30pm – 9pm+
AS220
115 Empire Street, Providence, RI

Providence Geeks, which first emerged in 2006, will be holding our last Geek Dinner of the year on December 6th. It promises to be a great one.

To reflect the spirit of the holidays, we’re going to switch things up a bit this month, and feature a “dotorg.” Providence-based CitizenSpeak founder Jo Lee will be presenting their award-winning, open source e-advocacy tools. (See follow-on post for details.)

Please RSVP in the comments section of this post so that we can give the good folks at AS220 an estimated headcount. And while you’re at it, subscribe to Providence Geeks’ feed (see sidebar) and/or join our very-low-volume email announcement list (for the announcement list, send an email to Jack Templin, jtemplin over at Gmail with your name and affiliation).

As always, for first-timers here are the details on the Geek Dinners:

  • It’s totally casual. Wear whatever, bring whoever, arrive and vamoose whenever… And don’t worry about eating or not – come famished or full – eating is optional, and frankly, the least of the festivities.
  • Topics of conversation will vary as they will at any gathering of geeks, but many of us will be talking about AJAX, mash-ups, start-ups, new devices, innovative business models, interaction design, social computing, digital art, web services, etc. etc. etc.
  • Food and beverages are for sale at the adjoining Taqueria Pacifica and bar.
  • There is WiFi so bring your connected device of choice.
  • We have AS220’s performance space from 5:30pm to approximately 7pm. After that the geekery moves to AS220’s adjoining cafe.

RI-WINS Town Hall Re-Cap, Part II

RI-WINS Town Hall

Here’s a summary of the Q&A from the RI-WINS town hall. It’s mostly paraphrased/summarized (see the video for verbatim; I’ve included the timestamps for each question/answer to make it easier for you to locate them).

If you have any questions or clarifications, please post them in the comments. And if you’d like to be identified as one of the questioners, let me know (you’re anonymous by default).

27:49-32:22
How do Verizon and other carriers perceive this initiative as regards their own initiatives such as EVDO?

Bob Panoff replied that Verizon was one of the first companies they contacted. He went on to say that the goal of this initiative is to foster applications that work across interoperable wireless networks. He also mentioned that RI-WINS has been talking with Cox about how they might work together. Tracy Williams pointed out that a lot of the focus of private sector wireless has been the Route 95 corridor, but that RI-WINS aims to establish a consistent wireless footprint across the state.

32:23-36:18
What about bringing access into people’s homes (targeting the consumers in Rhode Island)?

Bob replied that the initial focus is on enterprises and institutions (RI-WINS is more of a wholesale provider of wireless access, with the enterprises and institutions providing user-facing capabilities). He said that there will ultimately be an “innovative approach to consumers”, but that they will work with partners and affinity groups who will develop consumer-facing offerings.

36:19-39:30
What will the hardware look like from a consumer viewpoint? Users with a WiMAX card in their laptop? A WiMAX enabled home router that creates a Wi-Fi cloud?

Bob answered that there’s no definite answer on this, but he thinks we are moving toward a multi-protocol world (cell, Wi-Fi, WiMAX) with seamless hand-off when roaming between clouds of wireless.

39:31-47:44
As a followup to the last question, what sort of equipment should contest entrants plan on using for their N-GEN Wireless World contest entries?

In response, Bob pulled a Navini WiMAX PC Card out of his pocket 🙂 For the immediate future, the network is based on pre-WiMAX technology. As an aside, RI-WINS initially considered Wi-Fi, but it would have taken 9,000 access points! With WiMAX, it will only take 120 base stations (I’d love to see that on a Google map!). However, Wi-Fi hotspots will play a part. Don Stanford pointed out that WiMAX is being widely touted as an alternative to 3G/4G, but that the infrastructure is very affordable and flexible.

47:45-52:14
Are there any compatible WiMAX cards that are suitable for embedded systems/sensor network development (either Compact Flash-based cards with Linux drivers or serial-WiMAX bridges for bare metal development)?

Don replied that these sorts of devices will eventually come. Maybe they’ll even be invented in Rhode Island! To that point, Bob pointed out that RI-WINS would really like to see the network used for ocean research. Don mentioned that port security is another big area for RI-WINS.

52:15-54:03
Is the lack of a strong commitment to consumer access on the part of RI-WINS a policy choice, economic choice, or something else?

Bob replied that it’s a combination of things:

  • The state of technology is definitely an issue (the WiMAX hardware won’t be widely available to consumers soon enough).
  • By not tackling consumer access at this point, complicated questions of acceptable use can be deferred (some of those issues-especially file sharing-bring major bandwidth issues along with them).

54:04-55:38
Putting aside the broad consumer market for the moment, what if the question is changed to individuals-people not tied to an institution?

Bob replied that RI-WINS is very committed to this kind of use, but that it will be through intermediaries who build solutions on top of RI-WINS. He mentioned that we could eventually see policy/government entities working with RI-WINS to underwrite/subsidize low-cost access to users. But all this is a later phase-and that these sort of features will be added incrementally.

55:39-56:52
Could municipalities sign up with RI-WINS to provide access to their citizens?

Bob replied that RI-WINS is talking to one community that is not well-served by broadband, and they are looking to provide low-cost or free service to people who are unable to afford other solutions.

56:53-57:55
What kind of operating budget does RI-WINS have?

Bob replied that they have some seed money from the state government, a grant from homeland security. [Unfortunately, I couldn’t make out the actual amount that Bob quoted, but I’ll get that info and put it in here].