Inspired and delighted with people’s willingness to work for positive change #sibsyd

I’m exhausted after a busy weekend and totally inspired by the people I just spent the weekend with!

We held the first Social Innovation Sydney Startup Camp this weekend. It was great to see so many people willing to work together in an open and collaborative way on developing social innovation projects.

It really inspires me with hope for the future of our world to see people join together, starting as strangers, and collaborate on social innovation ideas so effectively.

There’s a nice round-up of Startup Camp from @lucyjjames on her blog: day 1 and day 2; and a some feedback from the participants on Social Innovation Sydney.

Science communication and social media #media140au

Attending the Media 140 Conference in Brisbane today. The tag line for this conference is “exploring the impact of social technologies on science communication” and it explores some of the issues and challenges facing science communication today.

There’s been a great line-up of speakers so far, with:

  • Bernie Hobbs, ABC Science (who’s doing an excellent job as Conference host)
  • Dr Andrew Maynard, Director of the University of Michigan Risk Science Center and the Charles and Rita Gelman Risk Science Professor at the University of Michigan School of Public Health.
  • Natasha Mitchell , ABC presenter of All In The Mind.
  • Wilson da Silva , Editor-in-Chief of COSMOS
  • Elena McMaster , Nanotechnology Project for Friends of the Earth Australia
  • Craig Thomler , Gov 2.0 advocate
  • Dr Craig Cormick , Manager of Public Awareness and Community Engagement for the Australian Government’s Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research
  • Dr Kristen Lyons, Senior lecturer in Sociology at the University of Queensland

Dr Andrew Maynard’s keynote on Social media and science communication – a load of Jackson Pollocks? was interesting and he noted his top three issues to consider for science communication:

  • Hubris – disregarding the medium because you don’t understand it. Assumed authority – old model does not work, and Control – “rather misguided theory that we can control conversations”.
  • Creating value – behaving like rockstars does not give us credibility as science communicators – remember cause & effect. Trying to mimic viral videos and blogs is not the answer need to have the good content that creates value.
  • Uncivil behaviour – feeling that we can “tell people forcefully what is right until the get the message” – ends up alienating people we need to connect with.

And a fascinating panel session on Web 2.0 or Web too far? chaired by Natash Mitchell. The panel discussed topics as varied as:

  • Online democratisation and/or demonization.
  • How to manage when the web is used to distort, misinform and distribute propaganda.
  • How anti-science ideologies and commercial agendas use the web, and how we should use social media to democratise scientific knowledge.

Oz Girl Develop IT 2011 #ozgdi

Just spent another evening with a great bunch of women learning about JavaScript as part of the Oz Girl Develop IT program for 2011.

Discussing the plans for this year’s Oz Develop IT with Pamela Fox and Cathy Lill tonight it became clear that there’s an interesting line up for the rest of 2011.

IMG_0571For example we’re planning to run sessions on:

  • SEO for geeks
  • UX for n00bs
  • Introduction to Blogging
  • PHP for script kiddies
  • Introduction to web programming – HTML and CSS
  • and a special workshop on blogging for Ada Lovelace Day in October

Final dates for these sessions are yet to be confirmed.

If you’re a woman who’s interested in learning more about web development sign up to our OZ GDI meetup group to find out about upcoming sessions and meetups
Girl Develop IT (Sydney)
You can also follow us on Twitter @OZGDI.

Some more about Oz Girl Develop IT:

Welcome, women developers of tomorrow!

Want to learn how to code? Have a great idea? Don’t be shy. Develop it.

Though the web developer community these days is open and welcoming, it is still up to 91% male and it can be intimidating for women to learn and ask questions when they are in an extreme minority. We decided it was time to provide a place where all questions are OK and everyone can learn in a supportive environment. The idea started in New York, and now we’re taking it down under to Sydney, Australia.

Our courses focus on coding, leveraging existing technology, and having something to show for it (aka building sweet websites). We will start with a series on HTML/CSS, and if that goes well, we can hopefully offer additional series to continue building your skills, or repeated sessions of that series

Note: Membership and event attendance is currently limited to women.

Don’t forget to sign up for the next Sydney Social Innovation BarCamp 26 Feb

Don’t forget to sign up for the next Sydney Social Innovation BarCamp 26 Feb

Join us for the next Social Innovation BarCamp in Sydney. It’s free registration so sign up now and participate in a day of ideas, conversation and creative thinking.

Register for Social Innovation BarCamp 26 Feb 2011 in Paddington, Australia  on Eventbrite

Again we’ll be crowdsourcing ideas for creating new business models for social good and building up our community network of changemakers.

Like our previous Social Innovation BarCamps this one will provide a place for facilitated conversations (details of the session format here) where anyone can share:

  • a story or an idea
  • kick off a discussion on something they are passionate about
  • share about a cause they want to rally support for
  • road test new social innovation ideas and workshop them with a group

This is your chance to get your ideas out into the open amongst a friendly crowd, as one of the participants said after our last BarCamp:

“thanks #sibsyd, without the barcamp I would never had courage to actually talk about my ‘silly’ idea with somebody else let alone pursue it.”

When: Saturday, February 26, 2011 from 9:30 AM – 5:30 PM
Venue: COFA Cnr Greens Road & Oxford Street, Paddington 2021 Australia

Register for Social Innovation BarCamp 26 Feb 2011 in Paddington, Australia  on Eventbrite

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This post was originally published on Social Innovation Sydney and is reproduced with permission.

Inspiring women: Louisa Lawson – women’s suffrage activist and publisher

The fight for women to get the vote was a monument to cooperation, ingenuity and collaboration on the part of many women in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. These women educated themselves and their peers about women’s issues and agitated for women’s rights. And the women of Australia owe a debt to these women of the past who achieved the privileges of full participation in the political process that we now enjoy, and often take for granted.

In the nineteenth century it was true to say:

“A woman’s opinions are useless to her, she may suffer unjustly, she may be wronged, but she has no power to weightily petition against man’s laws, no representatives to urge her views, her only method to produce release, redress, or change, is to ceaselessly agitate.”
Source: Louisa Lawson, speech to the inaugural meeting of the Dawn Club. Published in Dawn, July 1889.

Louisa Lawson is an interesting example of these women who paved the way for our participation as equals in Australian democracy . Louisa is one of my favourite characters from the Australian history – strong willed and cantankerous, she was one of the key progenitors of the women’s suffrage movement in Australia. And among her important contributions was The Dawn, a journal for women:

“In 1888 Louisa Lawson, who had previously edited the Republican with son Henry, launched The Dawn; a journal for women. The publication’s purpose was to be a “phonograph to wind out audibly the whispers, pleadings and demands of the sisterhood”. It advised on women’s issues, including divorce, the age of consent, and women’s right to vote. As well as operating as an important vehicle for the communication of feminist politics the paper also contained short stories, fashion notes, sewing patterns and reports on women’s activities around the country and overseas. By October 1889, the Dawn office employed ten women as typesetters, printers, binders, and unskilled workers. They were harassed by male workers, and by their male union, The New South Wales Typographical Association. In 1905, after seventeen years, the publication ceased production.”
Source: The Australian Women’s Register

Donna Benjamin (aka @KatteKrab) reports that there is no funding for the National Library of Australia to digitise The Dawn. However, Donna estimates that $7,500 should be sufficient to see the entire publication digitised.

Donna has had the brilliant idea of collecting funds to Digitise The Dawn. If we all put in a little bit then it can be added to the Trove Project and provide open access to this important resource for historians around the world.

UPDATE:  The new Digitise the Dawn website is up and you can follow on Twitter or identi.ca @digitisethedawn.

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Floods, community spirit and Australia #qldfloods

Along with most other Australians I have been moved and disturbed by the unfolding flood disaster in northern Australia. The floods are said to cover an area of Australia the size of France and Germany combined. Typical of Australia we also have bushfires in the western part of the country.

Over the past few days as the scale of the tragedy has become apparent I have observed people reaching out to help. Social media has again stepped into the breach in an emergency situation, providing fast breaking news (with occasional misinformation, usually corrected speedily), coordination of assistance, uncovering of scams or shaming bad behaviour, and sharing of needs.

Jason Langenauer’s tweet this morning summed it up for me and made me glad to be a part of this country that pulls together in a crisis and helps out those who are in need:

“The values exposed by this flood – mateship, care for people, altruism – are the complete opposite of the usual values of capitalism.”
Source: Twitter, Jason Langenauer Tweet 12 Jan 2011

There has been an outpouring of support for the flood victims with donations at $32million as of this morning. More information on the QLD government site.

Again Twitter has proved itself to be a great resource in a disaster situation. It has enabled people to easily pool resources and to share information where the traditional media is just to slow or not capable. Some great examples of this include:

Many people tweeted about the Queensland Premier’s Flood Relief Appeal ensuring scam sites were not used – official Qld government site #thebigwet #qldfloods Donate to the official flood relief appeal here.

Retailers perceived as seeking to cash in on the #qldfloods were speedily smacked down on Twitter – like this one.

Individuals made offers of help via Twitter like:

” If there are pets in need of housing let us know! We have 5acres #qldfloods #thebigwet #bnefloods #RT”

“Now that we’re safe, this is a 6 bedroom house. There’s beds for 3 and floor space for twenty. Peeps in need – ping me. #qldfloods”

“have space for pets from evacuations if needed. On a hill in brisbane. Please rt. #qldfloods”

“Anyone in New Farm area needing some storage space – our place isn’t in the flood zone. Have LUG and a spare room #qldfloods #bnefloods”

It has been heartening to see that only one politician so far has tried to use this disaster as a political sledge hammer. While, in my opinion, the performance of Queensland Premier Anna Bligh and the Mayors of the affected areas has been excellent under extremely difficult circumstances. One of my favourite comments came from the Ipswich Mayor: “If I find anybody looting in our city they will be used as flood markers” (via @1233newcastle).

Kudos to the organisations who have already made donations of greater than $10,000.

Some resources and ways to help:

Donate to the Queensland Government flood relief appeal

Donations can also be made in person at any branch of the Bank of Queensland, Commonwealth Bank, Westpac, ANZ, NAB or Suncorp.

Donate to RSPCA Queensland to help animals

Can you offer emergency animal foster care in Brisbane area?

Lifeline phone: 13 11 14

Alerts and updates

Live flood updates
Queensland Police Service
@QPSmedia (Queensland Police)
@consultqld (Queensland Government)