Inspired by the first UK Future of News meet-ups in London, a couple of regional nests have been formed, with the Brighton and West Midlands groups holding their inaugural meetings last night.
- Tweets from the West Midlands (#fonwm) here
My colleague Laura Oliver live-blogged some notes from our Brighton event, which featured the Argus online editor, Jo Wadsworth and the Guardian’s software architect, Simon Willison.
Willison, who was the lead developer for the Guardian’s crowd-sourced MPs’ expenses projects, talked about the ups and downs of user-driven information gathering; and about his latest collaborative launch, Wildlifenearyou.com, a project that collects users’ animal photographs for an online wildlife mapping project. Users can rank and identify photographs, building their site profiles. The feature allowing users to pick their favourite picture of two (for example, what’s your favourite meerkat?), accumulated more than 5,000 votes within a few hours.
As Laura notes, a specific version of Wildlifenearyou.com, Owlsnearyou.com launched just a few weeks ago. Getting the site some extra coverage, Owlsnearyou cannily “piggybacked” on the Superbowl hashtag on Twitter by creating “Superb Owl Day”… Geddit?
Willison also told the group about OpenStreetMap, the first free, wiki-style, editable map of the whole world. He said that the project has become adept at responding to crises.
OpenStreetMap was given some high resolution photographs of Haiti, when the earthquake occurred, and the team traced them to create the best digital map of Haiti available. It has become the default map for rescue teams, Willison added.