May 25, 2011

Red Heart leads field of Apps for Change winners


JD LasicaOver the past few weeks, Nokia held the first Apps for Change contest, inviting people from around the world to suggest a mobile application to benefit society — which Nokia has agreed to develop. The winners also get to steer a $10,000 contribution to a nonprofit organization.

Some 302 submissions were fielded from people in 53 countries. I was one of the judges in the contest (along with Jussi Hinkkanen, Peter Hirshberg, John M. Jordan and Juliette Powell), and we’re now announcing the winners.

The winning entry was Red Heart, submitted by Sana Refai and Kamel Seghaeir of Tunisia. The entry put it this way:

This application will help you to generate your blood donor’s networks. In case of emergency, you (or someone else) activates the search of your nearest person in your blood donor’s connection (GPS Localization) and contacts him to come give you help. By installing the application, you precise your blood group. When you add a new entry, the application decides whether your connection can be a donor or not according to her/his blood group. The application can be extends from a private network to a public community by creating a website gathering all blood donors worldwide …

We liked the idea of a mobile app being at the center of a process that brings together hospital or emergency workers and volunteers in the community in a way that benefits accident victims through the use of geolocation services. Such an app could allow a wide range of individuals in desperate need of a blood transfusion to find compatible donors in their geographical area. While Kamel and Sana’s app could be useful in developed countries, perhaps its greatest value could be found in developing economies, where mobile phones are ubiquitous – but advanced blood transfusion services are not.

Honorable mentions: Using the crowd to carpool — & more

The judges also singled out three other entries for special recognition:

• Seamus Maguire from Ireland submitted an idea for an app designed to increase the use of carpools, and thereby reduce an individual’s carbon footprint. Using such a mobile app, the user could view other nearby users in need of a ride. Continue reading

May 19, 2009

Introducing Traveling Geeks London


JD LasicaOne reason I’ve been overstretched for many months is that I’ve been working since last August as the (unpaid) chief organizer of the second Traveling Geeks expedition to explore cutting-edge technologies in a hotbed of innovation. Last spring it was Israel. This time around: London!

On Sunday we launched the website using WordPress, and I think it has some cool features, such as a widget that captures real-time conversations.

On Monday most of the Geeks got together over lunch at the Westin St. Francis in San Francisco to hear how to use Nokia’s Ovi Maps (see above) on our mobile devices. Nokia is loaning us N79s for the trip while in London and Cambridge July 4-11, and Jorg Malang, Head of Ovi Maps, and Maria Rakusanova, Product Marketing Manager — who are in the area for Where 2.0 — walked us through an hourlong live demo.

Jeff Saperstein, JD Lasica, Ken Kaplan of Intel, Christine Ngo of Ogilvy, photo by Susan Bratton

Jeff Saperstein, JD Lasica, Ken Kaplan of Intel, Christine Ngo of Ogilvy. Photo by Susan Bratton

We have a great lineup of Geeks for TG2: Howard Rheingold, Craig Newmark, Robert Scoble, Sarah Lacy, Meghan Asha, Sarah Austin, Tom Foremski, Sky Schuyler, Susan Bratton, Renee Blodgett, founder Jeff Saperstein and myself.

Here’s our still-developing Agenda — pretty impressive! On tap: a “speed date” with Seed Camp winners, a podcast at the Guardian on the future of news and media, talks and sessions at the 2gether conference, meeting with Accel startups, participating in an Econsultancy Roundtable with tech startup winners, hitting the TechCrunch Europe Summer Party, then participating in a Roundtable on Open Innovation at Cambridge. We’re also trying to arrange an afternoon tea with Tony Blair and hope to spend a little time relaxing — say, punting on the Cambridge.

Continue reading

April 30, 2007

Nokia N93: A step forward for citizens media


I’ve been a member of the Nokia bloggers program for a few months now, and I’ve got to say it’s great fun to be part of this effort and working with former journalist Andy Abramson and the Communicano team. (Nokia sends me cell phones to use and blog about, no strings other than my agreeing to write about the devices.) Here are some of my earlier reviews:

A look at the Nokia N91

Nokia’s gotta-have-it phones: N90 and N70

And here is my still-evolving archive of Nokia mobile video clips, including this interview in Sweden I did with my Nokia N90 (because I wasn’t about to lug my camcorder along), plus some Flickr photos I shot with my Nokia N90 and N93.

I’m not the first with a review of the N93 — I like to give my phones a long test drive before making any recommendations. But I’ve become pretty attached to this sleek new gizmo.

A great phone for citizen journalists


Here’s Nokia’s page about the N93, plus the bloggers page about the N93. (When Dan Gillmor eyed mine, he said, “Hot damn, I need one of those!”)

The most important thing I can say about Nokia’s N Series is this: The N93 is helping to usher in the citizen media movement in a major way. No one wants to watch grainy, out-of-focus, low-res pictures and videos. With the N93, you don’t have to. It captures video as MPEG-4 files in a big, fat, gorgeous 640×480 display.

People are still getting used to taking video with their mobiles, and Steve Garfield points out that even can’t get it right.

Steve should know. He and Rocketboom’s Andrew Baron (who showed me how to move clips from my N93 to my Mac laptop using Bluetooth) have been my main go-to guys about these devices.

I bumped into Steve at the recent Video on the Net conference and we compared our N93s. Said Steve: “It’s a great device for capturing and sharing a fleeting moment. Who wants to lug a camcorder around all day? This lets you capture events that you would have otherwise missed out on in our always-on video culture.”

I still have the bad habit of wanting to edit my video clips in a dedicated video editor, like iMovie, but Steve showed me how to use the N93’s built-in video editor (under Options / Edit). It took him less than 15 minutes, riding the train in Boston, to master the technique.

Zack Rosen shot this video snippet of me and Dan Gillmor talking about the recently launched Principles of Citizen Journalism project. And here’s a video I shot of Britt Bravo on my loaner N93 at the Social Media Consensus gathering last month.

It’s a little bit bulky to be carrying around all the time, a drawback Nokia will no doubt fix as its N Series line matures. And it doesn’t handle low-light shooting situations very well for either photos or video. The interface also can be daunting — I still don’t know the easiest way to check my missed calls after it alerts me and the message goes away. (Nokia, take some words of widsom from Henry David Thoreau: Simplify, simplify.)

Having said that, the N93 has rescued me on numerous occasions. When someone says, "Too bad nobody brought a camcorder," I like to whip out this baby and reply, "Oh, yeah?"