Crowdfunded news-site uncovers ISIS training camp using online mapping tools


Bellingcat kickstarted £51K to do data-driven/crowdsourced citizen journalism earlier this month, and a week later, pinpointed the exact location of an ISIS training camp near Mosul by matching the jihadis' social media posts to online maps and geo-location services.

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Huge patriotic statues, crowdsourced from 3D printer owners across America


We the Builders creates massive, 3D printed busts of the likes of George Washington by asking 3D printer owners to print out small pieces of the overall statue and then gloms them together in large, collaged pieces.

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Help Muckrock scour DHS social media spying guidelines and figure out what to FOIA next

Michael from Muckrock sez, "With a Freedom of Information Act request, MuckRock has received copies of two of the guides Homeland Security uses to monitor social media, one on standard procedures and a desktop binder for analysts. Now we're asking for help to go through it: See something worth digging into? Say something, and share it with others so we know what to FOIA next."

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Crowdsourced, realtime date advice: networked hivemind Cyrano

Artist/programmer Lauren McCarthy has undertaken an interesting experiment in networked romance called Social Turkers. McCarthy sets up dates with men using OK Cupid, and uses her phone to stream a live video feed of the outings to Amazon's Mechanical Turk crowdsourcing platform. The turkers observe the interaction and text realtime suggestions on what McCarthy should do in order to have an optimal date.

She's documented each date, and published the log of the turkers' commentary.

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Patent lawyers: Help! The evil Makers won't let us apply for bullshit 3D printing patents!

Two minor characters from my novel Makers have apparently come to life and written an article for 3D Printing Industry. These two people are patent lawyers for Finnegan IP law firm, Washington, DC, which I don't recall making up, but this is definitely a pair of Doctorow villains (though, thankfully, I had the good sense not to give them any lines in the book -- they're far too cliched in their anodyne evil for anyone to really believe in).

These patent lawyers are upset because the evil Makers (capital-M and all!) are working with the Electronic Frontier Foundation to examine bad 3D printing patents submitted to the US Patent and Trademark Office. The problem is that 3D printing is 30 years old, so nearly all the stuff that people want to patent and lock up and charge rent on for the next 20 years has already been invented, and the pesky Makers are insisting on pointing out this inconvenient fact to the USPTO.

This breaks the established order, which is much to be preferred: the UPSTO should grant all the bullshit patents that companies apply for. The big companies can pay firms like Finnegan to file patents on every trivial, stale, ancient idea and then cross-license them to each other, but use them to block disruptive new entrants to the marketplace. The old system also has the desirable feature of arming patent trolls with the same kind of bullshit patents so that they can sue giant companies and disruptive startups alike, and Finnegan can be there to soak up the tens of millions of dollars in legal fees generated by all this activity.

Can't these darned Makers understand? The point of a patent isn't to protect novel, useful inventions! It's to put the brakes on out-of-control innovation and to ensure that the children of the partners at Finnegan can go to a good college! What will happen to GDP if we divert money from the honest business of barratry and allow it to be squandered on making and selling stuff that people find useful?

The America Invents Act changed U.S. patent law to allow preissuance submissions, a mechanism by which third parties can submit patents or printed publications to the United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) for consideration during patent examination, along with “a concise description of the asserted relevance of each submitted document.”[2] The U.S. Congress intended preissuance submissions to help the USPTO increase the efficiency of examination and the quality of issued patents.[3] Congress did not, however, intend the use of this mechanism to interfere with patent examination.[4] Nor did it intend preissuance submissions to allow for third party protest or preissuance opposition.[5] Yet a segment of the 3D printing (3DP) community, known as Makers, is using preissuance submissions as a sword to oppose 3DP-related patent applications. Perhaps more importantly, they are leveraging the concept of crowdsourcing to do so, potentially creating problems for patent applicants everywhere.[6]

To understand why and how Makers are mobilizing to challenge patents through presissuance submissions, one must first understand what 3DP is, and the composition of the 3DP community. 3D printing—more formally known as additive manufacturing—is a technology that creates three dimensional objects from CAD files. There are many legacy and emerging 3DP technologies. Generally, 3DP works by fusing layer upon layer of materials, such as plastics, powder metals, and ceramics, to build a final, fully formed product, much as Athena sprung full-blown from the head of Zeus. This process requires a digital 3D model of the product, stored in a CAD file, and a 3D printer. Digital product models can be obtained by either (1) designing the product with a CAD program; (2) downloading an existing CAD file from the Internet; or (3) scanning an existing product with a 3D scanner to create a CAD file. Further, almost anyone can buy a 3D printer today; they are sold through Skymall and at Staples. Where 3DP was once cost prohibitive for most, ‘prosumer’ and home printers are now available at reasonable prices.

Crowdsourcing Prior Art to Defeat 3D Printing Patent Applications

(via Beyond the Beyond)

(Images: Caricature of William Otto Adolph Julius Danckwerts, Caricature of Charles Russell, Leslie Ward/Vanity Fair/Wikimedia Commons)

What could a library do with a gigabit Internet connection?

Marijke Visser from the ALA Office for Information Technology Policy writes with this provocative question:

What could a library do with a gigabit broadband connection? What kinds of services could they do that they can’t without that big of a connection? Thinking way away from the typical services libraries offer now, what are some really big ideas that would need that much connectivity? These services could happen outside the library walls, in relationship to other community organizations and/or government agencies… How would a library hooked up to a gig benefit its community?

Well?

Amara: crowdsource subtitles for your YouTube channel

Nicholas from the Participatory Culture Foundation sez,

Today our open subtitling platform Amara.org ("a wikipedia for subtitling video") is launching free crowd subtitling for every YouTube user. Want to make your videos accessible to people around the world who speak a different language? Want deaf and hard of hearing users to be able to watch? We hope you do! Just connect your YouTube account to Amara and invite your viewers to help.

Viewers from around the world are in the best position to help translate the video in their language and get you more viewers. Any moderately popular YouTube video will get lots of viewer subtitling help.

Amara's volunteer community is getting big-- some Khan Academy videos on Amara are translated into almost 100 languages! Want to watch Gangam Style in Esperanto? Amara has it. Twitter uses Amara to subtitle their product launch videos, Netflix uses Amara to subtitle movies and tv shows, and TED Talks has more than 11,000 volunteers in their Amara translation community.

If you post any videos to YouTube, Amara.org is how you can enable the world to watch!

Crowdsource Subtitles for your YouTube Channel (Thanks, Nicholas!)

(Disclosure: I am a proud volunteer on the Participatory Culture Foundation's Board of Directors)

Looking for a pilot in the southwest



Update: Drat. It really looks like this is going to be impossible. Thanks to everyone who wrote in with offers and suggestions, but it just won't happen. Sorry about this -- and sorry, New Mexico, I tried!
If you caught last month's post on my upcoming tour in February for Homeland, the sequel to Little Brother, you'll have seen that I'm meant to be speaking in Albuquerque, NM on the evening of Feb 11, and in NYC on the morning of Feb 12. This turns out to be a nearly impossible trick to pull off, because the last red-eye out of Albuquerque airport to New York on the night of the 11th departs at 1930h, too early for me to do any kind of event at the store in Albuquerque.

On the other hand, there is a slightly later flight out of Phoenix that would work, but there's no way to get to PHX in time to make it... Unless you happen to be or know a pilot who wants to help out by zipping me from Albuquerque to Phoenix that night. I can offer a signed super-limited edition of my short story collection With a Little Help, a signed copy of Homeland, and a $100 donation to the southwestern library or literacy charity of your choice in return. Tor will also pick up your fuel costs.

Unfortunately, the alternative is canceling the Albuquerque stop, which I really don't want to do. I've never been to Albuquerque, and was looking forward to it, especially since I know that the nice folks at Alamosa Books really worked hard to get me in. It's a long shot -- everyone else was ready to give up on this when I suggested trying to find a pilot. But the southwest is full of retired pilots, and it's the kind of big sky country where hobby fliers sometimes congregate, so I thought it'd be worth a shot.

Are you game? Please email my publicist, Patty Garcia. Please use the comments below to let me know if I've overlooked another possibility, but please keep in mind that the morning event in NYC can't be moved, and neither can the event the day before. In other words, this is the only night I can appear in Albuquerque, and Alamosa is the only place I can appear.

One more thing, and it should go without saying: I can only accept a ride from a qualified pilot with an up-to-date license and an airworthy, certified aircraft, and we reserve the right to gratefully decline your offer if we're even a little uncertain about either of these facts. I promised my wife I wouldn't risk my life on this tour.

(Image: Stearman Bi-Plane, Jack Herlihy, Pilot, 1929, PA1968.1.39, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from abqmuseumphotoarchives's photostream)

Pop-up bike trailer

Jeremy sends us the Pop Up DIY Workshop Bicycle Trailer, "a venue that a bicycle can tow and fold down. Can host everything from workshops to gigs. The creators are crowdsourcing its production with rewards ranging from Homebrew beer to Gocco prints."

The original design created by Matias Chadwick and Nick Ovens, responds directly to my original concept. It needed to be lightweight, compact, demountable, easy to assemble, offer shade and seating and be changeable to suit different community needs. The bicycle and materials fit inside the box, and can be taken across country as checked baggage allowing for affordable national and worldwide project destinations.

The Pop Up Trailer is primarily designed to accommodate workshops in zine / independent publishing, bike maintenance, stencilling, gardening and any other kind of skill share workshops that we find passion for.

Pop Up DIY Workshop Bicycle Trailer

Young mutant is reunited with plush Fin Fin, the discontinued 1996 Fujitsu mascot, all thanks to Boing Boing readers

Back at the start of December, I posted Edwin Gore's plea for a plush Fin Fin to replace his grandson's beloved, and lost, toy. You folks came through, and this Christmas, a young mutant was reunited with his long-lost chum, all thanks to you. Edwin says, "Last night my grandson was reunited with his beloved Fin Fin, along with a surprise extra, all thanks to the readers of Boing Boing. Several commenters had asked for video, and since the comments are closed on the original article, I thought I would send this along. Thanks again Boing Boing!"

Daww.

Reunited with Fin Fin

Kinky gifts from science surplus


A reader writes, "Some BDSM enthusiasts have apparently taken over a science surplus website's tagging system to list popularly repurposed science/lab items. I suspect the website's creators did not have that in mind when they 'went social'."

Well yes, but it's also a timely reminder that American Science and Surplus is a trove of pure, unadulterated awesome, at reasonable prices, the kind of thing that makes great gifts for the kinky and non-kinky alike.

Items tagged "BDSM"

Breast cancer patients: Stanford launches lymphedema registry study

Lymphedema occurs in about 7% of breast cancer patients who have undergone sentinel lymph node biopsy (to see if disease has spread to these lymph nodes), and in greater percentage of patients whose nodes end up being removed (because one or more contain cancer) and patients who receive radiation therapy after breast surgery. Lymphedema is basically a chronic swelling of the affected arm, caused by trapped lymph fluid. It can be disabling, disfiguring, and extremely painful.

"Once lymphedema develops, it is permanent," says my friend Dr. Deanna Attai, a breast surgeon in Burbank, CA. "Physical therapy can help minimize swelling and other complications, but there is currently no cure. Early recognition and prompt treatment definitely makes a difference."

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Turn your personal mob into an army


The startup team behind Human.io.

Human.io is the new thing from Joshua Schachter, founder of bookmarking site del.icio.us. This time, however, he's not suggesting you share your travels with a few friends—he's suggesting that you turn them into an army.

"If you want to build a flash mob, but have it actually do something useful, this is your API," Schachter said. "It lets you invite your audience to become part of the action."

The concept—developed by Paul Rademacher, creator of legendary Craigslist/Google Maps mashup Housingmaps, and Nick Nguyen, formerly of Yahoo and Mozilla—is straightforward enough: Human.io is a platform for performing "micro-tasks".

First, you publish a simple, crowdsourceble activity, such as voting on something, going to a particular location, or taking photos—anything that might be accomplished with a smartphone's UI and its sensors. Then you tell your readers, followers or friends about it. They start the app, get cracking, and, finally, the results are sent back to you.

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TV "psychics" are stock photos


Peter sez, "This blog entry describes how Alan Rice, a student in Ireland, became suspicious about some of the photos displayed as 'Live psychics' to be called at €2.44/min on Irish TV. He used image searches to find photos of some of the 'psychics' on stock photo sites. Other people chipped in and..."

Psychic Pat was in fact a bought stock photo! I quickly tweeted about this and from that I was pointed to the boards.ie thread about the show where I posted the same photos. Things certainly took off from there and some wonderful people there started finding pretty much all the psychics listed on their website from various places around the internet including, from what I gather, a personal Flickr photo. It really begs the question who are you talking to? And in some cases from what I’ve read you only get through to a hold message.

Not only are these “psychics” giving out random pieces of information based on any detail they get from a caller they are exploiting some really vulnerable people who are desperately seeking hope for their current situation. In the brief time I watched last night there was even a call about a missing son for Christ’s sake!

How on earth can TV3 let this deplorable scam be aired and stand over this? It must be stopped from broadcasting and the money (€60 in some cases) returned to the callers.

Con artists working on national television.

London police crowdsource the panopticon

London's Metropolitan Police have produced an app called Facewatch ID that is billed as a crowdsourcing tool for identifying suspects shown in stills from CCTV footage of last summer's riots. But the 2,800 riot images also include "a further 2,000 images of people wanted by the police for offences not connected to the riots." From the BBC:

Assistant commissioner Mark Rowley, head of specialist crime and operations at Scotland Yard, said: "This is a great opportunity for the public to help us fight crime and bring those who remain outstanding to justice.

"My hope is that the two-thirds of Londoners who own smartphones will download this app, and help us identify people we still need to speak to.

"We need Londoners to browse through the app every week or so as new images will appear regularly. This is a fantastic way for Londoners to help us to fight crime."

Crowd-sourcing used to trace London riot suspects (via Making Light)