Blog-Sites · Projects · Public Space

Playgrounds For Everyone: A community-edited guide to accessible playgrounds

Why Accessible Playgrounds?

Because kids in wheelchairs can’t play on playgrounds covered with wood chips. And children with muscular disabilities can fall out of swings that lack sides and backs. Or a child with vision or hearing problems can benefit from equipment specially designed for play alongside friends, siblings or any other child.

New federal requirements define playground accessibility as a civil right. And under those rules, playgrounds built or altered after March 14, 2012, are required to have wheelchair-friendly surfaces and equipment that helps kids with physical challenges move around.

You can Help HERE

Design · Digital Media · Projects · Social/Politics · Technology

Making large volunteer-driven projects sustainable. Lessons learned from Drupal

In this talk, Dries Buytaert (original creator and project lead of Drupal) shares his experiences on how he grew the Drupal community from just one person to over 800,000 members over the past 10 years. Today, the Drupal community is one of the largest and most active Open Source projects in the world, powering 1 out of 50 websites in the world. The concept of major projects growing out of a volunteer, community-based model is not new to the world. Volunteer networks and communities exist in many shapes and sizes. Throughout history there are examples of pure volunteer organizations that were instrumental in the founding and formation of many projects. For example, the first trade routes were ancient trackways which citizens later developed on their own into roads suited for wheeled vehicles in order to improve commerce. Transportation was improved for all citizens, driven by the commercial interest of some. Today, we certainly appreciate that our governments maintain the roads. However, we still see road signs stating that a particular section of a highway is kept clean and trim by volunteers — at least in some countries. When new ground needs to be broken, it’s often volunteer communities that do it. But a full-time, paid infrastructure can be necessary for the preservation and protection of what communities begin. In this presentation, Dries wants to brainstorm about how large communities evolve and how to sustain them over time.

Some questions to think about ahead of the presentation:

Do you know examples of large organizations that have grown out of volunteer communities?
Why do some communities keep growing while other communities come to a halt?
Is the commercialization of a volunteer-driven community part of a community’s natural life-cycle?
Is it inevitable that over time the operation and/or leadership of volunteer communities are transferred to paid personnel?

Tuesday, May 29, 12:30 pm
Berkman Center, 23 Everett Street, second floor
RSVP required for those attending in person via the form below
This event will be webcast live at 12:30 pm ET and archived on our site shortly after.

Via Berkman Center for Internet & Society

Animalia · Bio · Human-ities · Science

The Original Colonists: ‘The Social Conquest of Earth,’ by Edward O. Wilson

This is not a humble book. Edward O. Wilson wants to answer the questions Paul Gauguin used as the title of one of his most famous paintings: “Where do we come from? What are we? Where are we going?” At the start, Wilson notes that religion is no help at all — “mythmaking could never discover the origin and meaning of humanity” — and contemporary philosophy is also irrelevant, having “long ago abandoned the foundational questions about human existence.” The proper approach to answering these deep questions is the application of the methods of science, including archaeology, neuroscience and evolutionary biology. Also, we should study insects.

Insects? Wilson, now 82 and an emeritus professor in the department of organismic and evolutionary biology at Harvard, has long been a leading scholar on ants, having won one of his two Pulitzer Prizes for the 1990 book on the topic that he wrote with Bert Hölldobler. But he is better known for his work on humans. His “Sociobiology: The New Synthesis,” a landmark attempt to use evolutionary theory to explain human behavior, was published in 1975. Those were strange times, and Wilson was smeared as a racist and fascist, attacked by some of his Harvard colleagues and doused with water at the podium of a major scientific conference. But Wilson’s days as a pariah are long over. An evolutionary approach to psychology is now mainstream, and Wilson is broadly respected for his scientific accomplishments, his environmental activism, and the scope and productivity of his work, which includes an autobiography and a best-selling novel, ­“Anthill.”

In “The Social Conquest of Earth,” he explores the strange kinship between humans and some insects. Wilson calculates that one can stack up log-style all humans alive today into a cube that’s about a mile on each side, easily hidden in the Grand Canyon. And all the ants on earth would fit into a cube of similar size. More important, humans and certain insects are the planet’s ­“eusocial” species — the only species that form communities that contain multiple generations and where, as part of a division of labor, community members sometimes perform altruistic acts for the benefit of others.

Excerpt from an article written by PAUL BLOOM, NYT. Continue HERE
Image above: Edward O. Wilson holds a jar of ant specimens from a dig in Puerto Rico.

Blog-Sites · Human-ities · Photographics · Social/Politics · Technology

Introducing Cowbird

According to Cowbird:

Cowbird is a small community of storytellers, focused on a deeper, longer-lasting, more personal kind of storytelling than you’re likely to find anywhere else on the Web.

Cowbird allows you to keep a beautiful audio-visual diary of your life, and to collaborate with others in documenting the overarching “sagas” that shape our world today. Sagas are themes and events that touch millions of live and shape the human story.

Our short-term goal is to pioneer a new form of participatory journalism, grounded in the simple human stories behind major news events. Our long-term goal is to build a public library of human experience, so the knowledge and wisdom we accumulate as individuals may live on as part of the the commons, available for this and future generations to look to for guidance.

Know more at Cowbird