August 21, 2006

Strong Angel

Dan Gillmor writes,


I'm working on a project next week in San Diego, and hope -- with your help -- to convince some local bloggers to join in for a few days.

The project is called "Strong Angel." Several hundred people from a variety of fields -- academic, nonprofit, corporate, military and more -- are gathering for the week to experiment with how we can do a better job responding to disasters (natural or human-caused). Our goal is to find ways to communicate efficiently and get services to the people who need them. San Diego is the test-bed for next week's scenario.

Here's a site with a more detailed description:

My role is to induce, if possible, a bottom-up news flow that will be useful both to the responders and the people in the community. And it would be incredibly cool if we could get bloggers in the city to join this experiment in the following way:

1. Once or twice a day starting Monday morning, do a posting -- with or without photos -- from your neighborhood on something happening there. Obviously there's no disaster going on, and we don't want people to make things up. So they should post something that is a real occurrence or scene.

2. Tag each post with this Technorati tag: (stands for Strong Angel III 2006)

3. Make the posting title the street address closest to where this is happening.

We are going to try to pull the results into a map that gets automatically updated and annotated during the week with neighborhood-level information.

We have no idea how all of this will work, but we think this experiment has at least a chance of producing something really interesting, and maybe valuable.

There will be media coverage of Strong Angel, and I suspect this could become a topic of interest.

I hope you will participate, and also spread the word among other San Diego bloggers.



Dan Gillmor

Director, Center for Citizen Media
Author, "We the Media"

Well, there you have it. San Diego bloggers, you've been called to duty. Want to "explore innovations in humanitiarian response capabilities"? Want to test the "interoperability, reliability, and flexibility of proposed social and technical solutions"? Have you been itchin' for an "adverse environment designed to maximize learning, sharing, and experimentation"? Well now's your chance.

Frankly the whole thing sounds fairly creepy in a Military Industrial Complex kind of way, starting with the moniker "Strong Angel" -- oh, wait, that's "String Angel III". Sounds like the second sequel to a 80s B-movie which was itself a knockoff of Top Gun.

The Strong Angel website is a piece of work. Dense multisyllabic prose right out of some Pentagon assessment report. Also interesting are the sponsors: Microsoft, Cisco, Google, Office of the Secretary of Defense... that's a nice combination right there.

Check out the Microsoft blurb: "Microsoft Humanitarian Systems (MHS) is an expeditionary team under Microsoft Chief Software Architect Ray Ozzie, tasked with investigating and building working models of advanced solutions to address collaborative aspects of some of the most vexing, emotionally-charged, and least-served human interaction problems, including relief, development, conflict resolution, human trafficking, and human rights. The team is founded on the premise that significant, forward-looking collaborative solutions can emerge when they are designed for - and developed in - complex environments where networks are unreliable, equipment fails, trust is lacking, training is minimal, users are highly mobile, and information overload is the norm."

What Strong Angel III needs is not San Diego bloggers to cover it, but none other than Bruce Sterling. His report is something I would enjoy reading.

Posted by brian at August 21, 2006 08:09 AM


I completely agree - it would be nice to get some perspective on Strong Angel in the (much) wider scheme of things from somebody like Sterling. (Wired did cover Strong Angel II last year, at,1282,64271,00.html.) You might say that SA3 is "creepy in a Military Industrial Complex" style but I couldn't possibly comment. Heh.

Posted by: Paul C at August 29, 2006 11:46 AM

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