Who Are The Extraordinaries and What Are They Doing With My Phone?

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Facilitated by Ben Rigby, The Extraordinaries

Most of us don't have a Saturday to dedicate to a cause, but we do have spare moments...lots of them. Despite busy schedules, we often find ourselves with idle time: waiting for the metro, in line for a haircut, at the doctor's office, bored at work, or when a friend is late to dinner. What could we do in these moments? Micro-volunteer via our mobile devices.

Some possibilities:

  • Translate a nonprofit's Website into a foreign language
  • Record locations of potholes for municipalities
  • Identify birds for the Cornell Lab of Ornithology
  • Tag images for the Smithsonian
  • Transcribe ancient texts for ReCaptcha
  • Review congressional bills for hidden pork
  • Fact check for reporters


Ben will talk about <a href="http://www.beextra.org">The Extraordinaries project,</a> which allows individuals to “micro-volunteer” using their cell phones and PCs. He'll discuss the platform and lessons learned in developing an innovative new “crowdsourced” approach to solving big problems in your spare time.

Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J-dXdr4QGNU

Session Notes

the extradinaries -- iphone apps

we did a round on why we are here - most folks seemed to say that they were interested in hearing about how to use phones to engage folks around issues.

ben let us know about his work with mobile voter and how that led him to be interested in getting folks engaged in volunteering on the spot.

we chatted about how folks are volunteering now -- folks shared their stories about volunteering

ben talked about how few americans volunteer, because you have to give up your 4 hours on a saturday so this is a chance to make use of extra time you have to complete volunteer tasks.

he showed examples of some stuff -- citizen journalism, tagging images, messaging of encouragement.

he talked about the apple application development process and how frustrating.

folks ask if this is a situation where you build custom apps for each client. - no this is a frame work, it takes about 15 minutes to rearrange the framework to be able to do this.

is this data exportable or centrally stored? he shows us an example of an image collection and the way you can see who is doing the work. explores ideas for game and group and participation and reputation feedback. Then can we route them to do volunteer jobs with it as a credential.

is this possibly location related --- where can i volunteer? no this is more about crows sourcing because of the lack of information about opps.

we talk about social actions attempt to get the data set of volunteer information opportunities-- they are trying to get a central location for those opportunities.

we talked about "all for good" and the way that you can associate volunteer opps with content so you can turn engagement into action.

311 as a way to report stuff about your neighborhood.

socialness of how we volunteer how do we address the wanting to work with others. he points to the websites collective nature and seeing other folks working as being important.

folks talk on the way that we can leverage this -- users keep asking is this a way we can fundraise what do we do with it.

folks look for ways to identify what tasks they are good or qualified for. how do you filter the results they are still working on the details. a peer review process to make sure folks are skilled at what they say they are.

average use time is 1:40 second and it's usually during the week.

they have an api so you can build your own application on the system -- like translation etc.

the internet starts working and we look at some examples of stuff. we talked about how the collection of information seems to be an important part of what this application and the hardware imply.

all the data is public unless you say otherwise.

folks ask about sound recording as an option and ben says that can be really slow to upload.

we created a new mission on the extraordinaries to take pictures of dev summit.