The two alternatives to the monasterisation of the World wide web

Saint Michael’s Abbey, in the Susa Valley, Piedmont. Source: Wikipedia.

In Medieval Europe, information was physically concentrated in very few secluded libraries and archives. Powerful institutions managed them and regulated who could access what. The library of the fictional abbey that is described in Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose is located in a fortified tower and only the librarian knows how to navigate its mysteries. Monasteries played an essential role in preserving written information and creating new intelligence from that knowledge. But being written information a scarce resource, with the keys to libraries came also authority and power. Similarly, Internet companies are amassing information within their fortified walls. In so doing, they provide services that we now see as essential but they also contravene the two core principles of the Internet: openness and decentralisation.

(more…)

Monday, 7 May 2018

WikiPrices

Erik Hersman, has recently created a site called Africa Signals. And it is not just a site: it is a wiki site. The site aims to collect and share mobile phone and Internet rates across Africa. (I have found about this site here)

Now. In my experience, one of the many reasons that makes poor a poor farmer is coping with a non-functioning market (I said it two posts ago). So I can just imagine how helpful would be to have a tool to make market work better.

Creating a wiki page to collect and share the price of one particular agricultural product in one particular time in one particular place would be great. But succeeding in integrating such a site with the mobile phone network would be even better.  How to do this? The government of Rwanda is moving in the very same direction without creating a wiki site. (It is difficult to imagine a government managing wikis). But bureaucracy is not something we usually associate with the words efficiency and effectiveness, especially in poor countries. And in any case we do not really need a government to make a site like this work.

Just think about a wiki site collecting and sharing data through sms. Actually Twitter, without the wiki interface, is doing it right now. So, think about a farmer receiving a message with updated price information the night before market day and, on this information, taking his/her decisions. And think about a farmer sending via sms the price information to the wiki site after leaving the market.

We can imagine the farmer to pay for the sms he or she receives and, on the contrary, we can imagine sending sms back to the site to be completely free.  And we can imagine some volunteers to be the administrators of the site (just like Wikipedia).

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

tweets


Twitter: frbailo

links


blogroll


RSS r-bloggers.com

  • simmer 4.0.0
    The 4.0.0 release of simmer, the Discrete-Event Simulator for R, is on CRAN under a new license: we decided to switch to GPL __= 2. Most notably in this major release, the C++ core has been refactorised and exposed under inst/include. This is not a big deal for most users, but it enables extensions. As an example… […]
  • RStudio:addins part 4 – Unit testing coverage investigation and improvement, made easy
    Introduction A developer always pays his technical debts! And we have a debt to pay to the gods of coding best practices, as we did not present many unit tests for our functions yet. Today we will show how to efficiently investigate and improve unit test coverage for our R code, with focus on functions […]
  • MiKTeX Behind a Windows Firewall
    I’ve always had problems with MiKTeX on my work computer. I can install it just fine, or get IT to install it, but then the package manager doesn’t work because of our firewall. You can set up a local repository to get around this problem, and I will show you how. I’m just doing a […]
  • Regional population structures at a glance
    I am happy to announce that our paper is published today in The Lancet. Kashnitsky, I., & Schöley, J. (2018). Regional population structures at a glance. The Lancet, 392(10143), 209–210. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(18)31194-2 At a...
  • R.devices – Into the Void
    R.devices 2.16.0 - Unified Handling of Graphics Devices - is on CRAN. With this release, you can now easily suppress unwanted graphics, e.g. graphics produced by one of those do-everything-in-one-call functions that we all bump into once in a while. To suppress graphics, the R.devices package provides graphics device nulldev(), and function suppressGraphics(), which both […]

RSS Simply Statistics

  • Teaching R to New Users - From tapply to the Tidyverse
    Abstract The intentional ambiguity of the R language, inherited from the S language, is one of its defining features. Is it an interactive system for data analysis or is it a sophisticated programming language for software developers? The ability of R to cater to users who do not see themselves as programmers, but then allow […]
  • What Should be Done When Data Have Creators?
    I was listening to the podcast The West Wing Weekly recently and Episode 4.17 (“Red Haven’s on Fire”) featured former staff writer Lauren Schmidt Hissrich. In introducing her, the podcast co-hosts mentioned that Hissrich was a writer for the Netflix series Daredevil, based on the Marvel Comics character. She is also the showrunner for a […]
  • Cultural Differences in Map Data Visualization
    Matthew Panzarino had an interesting article in TechCrunch on Apple’s process for rebuilding their Maps app. While most of the article describes the laborious process of data collection, one part jumped out at me, which was the team that Panzarino describes as the “Department of Details.” They are responsible for a number of odds and […]

RSS Statistical Modeling, Causal Inference, and Social Science

  • “A Headline That Will Make Global-Warming Activists Apoplectic”
    I saw this article in the newspaper today, “2017 Was One of the Hottest Years on Record. And That Was Without El Niño,” subtitled, “The world in 2017 saw some of the highest average surface temperatures ever recorded, surprising scientists who had expected sharper retreat from recent record years,” and accompanied by the above graph, […]
  • Where that title came from
    I could not think of a good title for this post. My first try was “An institutional model for the persistence of false belief, but I don’t think it’s helpful to describe scientific paradigms as ‘true’ or ‘false.’ Also, boo on cheap laughs at the expense of academia,” and later attempts were even worse. At […]
  • Stan short course in NYC in 2.5 weeks
    To all who may be interested: Jonah Gabry, Stan developer and creator of ShinyStan, will be giving a short course downtown, from 6-8 Aug. Details here. Jonah has taught Stan courses before, and he knows what he’s doing. The post Stan short course in NYC in 2.5 weeks appeared first on Statistical Modeling, Causal Inference, […]