Via @dangillmor’s tweet this afternoon, I’ve just turned a lovely corner into Harvard cyber-technology: essentially, a monitor of Internet health which – almost by the by, I think (or maybe not …) has a shareable, editable, clonable and re-editable user-interface called the Dashboard.
I’d describe it, essentially, as a multi-edited wiki-style platform which uses digitally undividing widgets instead of gently challenging markdown. If that doesn’t mean much, let’s see if we can explain it step by step.
What’s thenetmonitor.org and what is its Dashboard? There is a fairly institutional About page at the site here, which is fair enough as far as it goes. But it’s the Dashboard which really has me fascinated. The blogpost introducing the latter can be found here – definitely worth a read in full, along with the accompanying video.
What can we do with the Dashboard, then? This is the intention, what we’re supposed to do with it – the original goal, if you like:
Cambridge, MA—The Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University is pleased to announce the launch of the Internet Monitor dashboard, a freely accessible tool that aims to improve information for policymakers, researchers, advocates, and user communities working to shape the future of the Internet by helping them understand trends in Internet health and activity through data analysis and visualization.
It allows the following:
The dashboard lets users customize a collection of data visualization widgets—some offering real-time data—about Internet access and infrastructure, online content controls, and digital activity. Users can create multiple collections that enable easy comparisons across countries and data sources, and are quick to configure, edit, and share. In addition to creating their own collections, visitors to the dashboard will be able to view a selection of featured collections based on topics such as online media and network traffic around the world.
How does that translate into the real world? Well, I’ve been wondering this evening how we could fiddle around with its virtues and apply them to very local communities of news provision: what we’ve been tending to describe as hyperlocal journalism.
What’s really revolutionary, however, is that anyone, anywhere, can “clone” at any time anyone’s Dashboard at will, as they remake/rework it for a wider/different community’s needs. This is fascinating, and if it took off for the purposes I am proposing (though barely understanding) tonight, might prove as challenging to the nascent hyperlocal business model as the past decade or two has already been for mainstream journalism and its industry.
Just imagine. Schools, colleges, businesses, shops … institutions and individuals both, able – at the click of the easiest of buttons – to clone, re-engineer and relearn how to be fascinated once more by the devolved and developing opportunities to communicate.
It’s a thought, eh? Goodness me … what other weird and wonderful inventions are – even now – out there, waiting to be suddenly sprung on us?
And how might they affect all of our presumptions, held thus far so securely?