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Author: PuddinHead42 Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: of 9937  
Subject: Code for America Date: 10/7/2012 2:49 PM
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So, in line with my recent posts on the future of textbooks (e.g. iPads and interactive multimedia devices), I just made a follow up post and about 30 seconds later this story comes on CNN about "Code for America". It points out how us have changed the world over the last 20 years, but they have not really changed government. But now that is starting to change.

Here is the webpage tag line...
CODE FOR AMERICA:
'A PEACE CORPS FOR GEEKS'

CfA is working to change the way cities work through technology and public service. You can give a year, a few months, or just a few minutes, but you can make a difference.

they call it a Peace Core for Local Gov.

http://codeforamerica.org/

Geeks from the public and places like Google are donating their time to make local governments more efficient. (This was one of my arguments for the price of textbooks coming down or going to zero once they become electronic).

Example 1: Detroit has people drive around and survey communities, that data is then sent of to and expert or company somewhere for compilation into reports and databases. So code for America came up with an app called "LocalData" that any non-technical person could interact with. They can define their surveys and then the people collecting data input it directly into the app. Now data crunching and reporting and overlaying with maps that took 9 months (and $$$), now takes 2 days.

Chicago gov Rahm Emanuel wants to create an open and transparent government. He wants a "customer relationship management" model like FedEx. If you find a pothole and report it on the app/website, it then creates a tracking history that you or anyone can follow. Has it been verified, has it been schedule, has it been filled? Etc. I imagine you can sign up for e-mail or text alerts like at FedEx.

My sidenote:
This is the kind of paradigm shift that will give the government back to the people. This is the kind of thought process that will make our schools better for teachers and students. This is were free e-books and material for the classroom will come from. This is a future I envision.

I remember a story about a city that had a "hackathon" where they gave out the GPS database of they bus system (buses had GPS trackers on them). They asked the crowd to use the data to create and app that would let smartphone users track the bus and know when it was arriving at their stop. By the end of the lunch break, a number of teams had already created a working app. With a few tweaks the city started using it and it made a huge difference to the rider community. One donut shop even displayed the live data for the bus stop outside their door as a benefit to their customers. It turns out that their sales when way up because people that used to leave early so they would not miss the bus, could now stay in the shop and order more food. All for free from the geek community. Crowd sourcing. This type of thinking can be applied in some many places, including schools. Get ready for it!

Another example from show. Philly wants to plan their city into the future. They want interaction and feedback from residents. How are public spaces used? How should they change. Typically, they hold some public meetings, usually in the evening. (think PTA) This of course limits the people that can go as well as the capacity of the meeting. Very time and resource intensive and can be expensive. Limits how much data you can collect. So CFA created a text message system (since 92% of residents have access to it). They put up posters all over the city that asked citizens to text in answers to the 3 main questions (about how you use the public spaces). The response was great. The app is now open source and people can make changes for their own cities. It is now used in a growing number of cities. (Think about parent surveys for our schools, our districts, our states. Think about how this can easily evolve to meet particular needs. Think about how supplemental teaching aids can be created with open source, how a brilliant idea in California, can be almost immediately used in North Dakota, or anywhere.)

Discover BPS example from the show. Boston parents were very frustrated on how difficult it was to get their kids assigned to the right public school. The city was publishing a 28 page document describing the different public schools. But you could not figure out which ones your kid was eligible for. CFA created the app in 2.5 months. Type in your home address, age of kids, siblings in other schools and you are instantly shown a map with every eligible schools. It has the little flags like on Google maps and you can click to get more info.
The city said if they had outsourced this using regular channels, it would have cost $2 million and taken 2 years. That is money that can now go to schools, teachers, playgrounds, etc.

here it is...
http://www.discoverbps.org/


Welcome to the future!
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Author: Hawkwin Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 9794 of 9937
Subject: Re: Code for America Date: 10/8/2012 12:09 PM
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Love the link, thanks for sharing it!

(This was one of my arguments for the price of textbooks coming down or going to zero once they become electronic).

I don't think you will ever see them go to zero unless we have a "wiki/crowd sourced" education model.

Someone will always have to update the history and science books and if someone does not do it for free, there will be a cost for such.

The unfortunate irony of all this is that the better we get at this sort of stuff, the more unemployed we will have. That student that just graduated with a degree in computer programming and went to work for the city just lost their job to some civilian that can now code an app in half a day.

It won't be too many years into the future before the entire USPS goes out of business (or is outsourced) because so much personal and business communication will be electronic.

What happens to all the publishers of textbooks when all textbooks are electronic? I'm not arguing against this just concerned about the long term consequences of our significantly increased efficiency.

We might be closer to a "Star Trek-like" economy than anyone realizes. We already have 3D replicators.

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Author: PuddinHead42 Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 9797 of 9937
Subject: Re: Code for America Date: 10/8/2012 8:02 PM
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The unfortunate irony of all this is that the better we get at this sort of stuff, the more unemployed we will have. That student that just graduated with a degree in computer programming and went to work for the city just lost their job to some civilian that can now code an app in half a day.

NO!!
That is not the unfortunate irony, that is what makes this country great. Creative Destruction. Having something better and more efficient replace something old and inefficient. Are you sad that there are no more elevator operators, where there used to be thousands because elevators were so dangerous? Are you sad type writer factories were destroyed by computers and word processors - which has cause great productivity and many more jobs. Horse-and-buggy makers? Rotary phone factories? VCR makers? Laptops dying in favor of tablets? Wouldn't you rather have a college grad get a future job instead of a "past" job?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Creative_destruction
At its most basic, "creative destruction" (German: schöpferische Zerstörung) describes the way in which capitalist economic development arises out of the destruction of some prior economic order.

Like when the highly regulated phone monopoly was broken up. There might have been a worry of layoffs, but look what grew from it. There was a time when you did not even own the phone in your house and could not buy the phone of your choice in a store. Nobody wants that.


It won't be too many years into the future before the entire USPS goes out of business (or is outsourced) because so much personal and business communication will be electronic

Just like the pony express! FedEx and UPS have led customer service and technology years ahead of USPS.

What happens to all the publishers of textbooks when all textbooks are electronic? I'm not arguing against this just concerned about the long term consequences of our significantly increased efficiency

Publishers? Same as Kodak, it seems sad, buy if you can't adapt someone will eat you. Ironically, Kodak invented key technologies of digital photography, but did not want to cannibalize themselves. What if Intel did not make a better processor then their last one? What if Microsoft did not create a better OS than their last one? Someone else would. You have to put yourself out of your last business before someone else puts you out of business completely. This is what keeps our economy great in the long run.

This is what must be taught in economics, not sadness for someone who loses their job in favor of a better technology. If you are a cactus, you do fine in the desert, but if the climate changes you are dead. Adapt!

P.

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Author: Hawkwin Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 9798 of 9937
Subject: Re: Code for America Date: 10/9/2012 9:17 AM
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Creative Destruction. Having something better and more efficient replace something old and inefficient.

Everything in moderation.

At its most basic, "creative destruction" (German: schöpferische Zerstörung) describes the way in which capitalist economic development arises out of the destruction of some prior economic order.

From the same link:

the idea of creative destruction or annihilation (German: Vernichtung) implies not only that capitalism destroys and reconfigures previous economic orders, but also that it must ceaselessly devalue existing wealth (whether through war, dereliction, or regular and periodic economic crises) in order to clear the ground for the creation of new wealth.
...
Creative destruction can cause temporary economic distress. Layoffs of workers with obsolete working skills can be one price of innovations valued by consumers. Though a continually innovating economy generates new opportunities for workers to participate in more creative and productive enterprises (provided they can acquire the necessary skills), creative destruction can cause severe hardship in the short term, and in the long term for those who cannot acquire the skills and work experience.


I am all for innovation. That being said, I remain concerned about what happens when most if not all light industrial jobs are performed by robots. What happens when our transportation of goods and services is performed by robots. What happens when even the robots are built by other robots.

There was a time not long ago when most people worked on a farm. Now we have a large portion of our populace employed in some sort of manufacturing. That is one of the reasons unemployment remains so high - we have simply become so efficient that many of those manufacturing jobs are not likely to ever come back. Perhaps we can put those people to work on building infrastructure but certainly we can all envision a day when manual labor in manufacturing is atypical. I honestly don't know what those people are going to do when that time comes.

Publishers? Same as Kodak, it seems sad, buy if you can't adapt someone will eat you.

I am not talking about the death of a single industry (much less a single company), like a VCR. If Toshiba doesn't adapt and learn to make something else, some other company will. I am concerned with the death of an entire form of employment. Again, not saying it shouldn't happen but as a society (and as educators), we should be concerned with this. We need to be focused today on what skills individuals will need in 20 years and I could not guess what those skills might be for someone that would otherwise have a factory job today.

When the proverbial buggy whips went out of business, those working in that industry simply moved on to the next manufacturing job. As I stated above, I don't know what lower skilled labor is going to do when there simply are no lower skilled labor jobs left.

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Author: rbednarski Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 9799 of 9937
Subject: Re: Code for America Date: 10/9/2012 11:06 AM
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When the proverbial buggy whips went out of business, those working in that industry simply moved on to the next manufacturing job. As I stated above, I don't know what lower skilled labor is going to do when there simply are no lower skilled labor jobs left.

Lament all those times he didn't do his math homework.

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