All Posts in Government

July 22, 2014 - Comments Off on Useful apps in Brazil — Talkback Tuesday

Useful apps in Brazil — Talkback Tuesday

"Talk Back Tuesdays" is an original weekly installment where a team member of The Mechanism is asked one question pertaining to digital design, inspiration, and experience. The Q&A will be featured here on The Mechanism Blog as well as on The Mechanism's Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, every Tuesday. Feel free to offer up your 2¢ in the comments.

George Brassey, The Mechanism's lead developer, recently returned from a 2 week trip to Brazil for the World Cup. His trip as a whole sounds like it was quite an unreal experience, but we wanted to know a little bit more about his #DigitalExperience while visiting an unfamiliar country.

Q: What iphone/android app did you use most this past week, and why?

With regard to my digital experience in Brazil, I wanted to talk about a few apps that I found useful.

1: Splitwise

Going on a trip with friends means there are going to be loads of shared expenses and it can be a headache keeping track of all these, especially when dealing with a foreign currency. Luckily for us, we had an app called Splitwise, whose purpose is to solve this exact problem. You register a group of those travelling with you and from there it is easy to add individual expenses, choose who is contributing and how much they are contributing. At the end of your trip you can settle up and Splitwise will do all the math for you so there are as few transactions as necessary. It also has support for multiple currencies, as well as an option for shared living expenses (e.g. roommates).

2: Google Photospheres

In a picturesque country like Brazil, there are many views that are impossible to capture in a photo. When you are surrounded by stunning scenery, Google Android has a great addition to their photos app that lets you capture a full 360° image. It takes a little patience as you stitch together multiple images, however it is easy to do and once complete you get an image that can be explored by tilting and twisting your phone to see every angle. You can even upload these efforts to be approved and added to Google maps.

3: Whatsapp

The sensational news of Whatsapp being bought by Facebook for $19 billion surprised many and while we in America often stick to regular SMS text messages, relegating Whatsapp to communication with friends who are abroad, in Brazil, as in many countries, people use Whatsapp as their primary messaging tool. By avoiding the cost of SMS messaging, Whatsapp, which is available on every phone smart enough to load an app (which isn't very smart), has incredible potential to become the world’s most popular messaging platform. For those travelling, this means one seamless experience for communication with friends all over the world.

George is a dauntless developer with a keen eye for user experience. The conceptualization of his work is informed by an insightful empathy for the end user. Check out his bio here.

Stay tuned for next week's "Talk Back Tuesday" when we ask Dhruv Mehrotra, a highly skilled developer of The Mechanism, about his own #DigitalExperiences.

Published by: georgebrassey in Government, The Internal Mechanism
Tags: , , ,

May 2, 2014 - Comments Off on Never Hear Them Coming

Never Hear Them Coming

electric-car

Small wins.

The Danish Energy Agency allocated EUR 4 million for public and private electric car projects. This will bring 1500 new electric cars to the streets of Denmark in 2014. With about 6 million people, they are approximately 1.5% the population of the US.

Bhutan, the Himalayan kingdom of 700,000 people, measures progress by the gross national happiness index. They also export 72% of their electricity. Nissan is helping them to build a complex infrastructure for charging their whisper-quiet Leaf electric cars.

Electric cars are so smooth, nimble and silent – you don't even hear them coming.

In the United States, we have oil lobbyists fighting against the existence of electric cars to their last breath, all part of our historically vaudevillian political system where money and power are sadly trumping progress. Getting these jackals to finally back off enough to even allow rational conversations about electric cars will require such a widespread public demonization of oil, that cowboys will have to kneel before the masses and swear that Texas tea is really made from fresh butterfly milk.

Remember, the United States (and arguably Canada and South Africa) has Elon Musk, the baddest-ass electric car maker in the world, headquartered right in Palo Alto. A ruthless innovator, rocket launcher and inventor like this hasn't been seen since "The Great and Powerful Jobs". And what do the bureaucrats do to Musk through lobbyists and political baboonery? They tar, feather and shit on him. He'll eventually take his magic ball and teleport to another playground. But, we're too busy punching the nerd in the face to notice that we're actually slugging an invincible warlock.

And such is our system. Obese and overwrought with so much rotten sausage that if we keep it up, we are likely to fall behind even the developing world in a generation or two. By the time we pluck our heads out of our own posteriors and realize that politics ain't reality tv, it'll be too late.

To get electricity you have to start with an alpha particle.

You want electric cars? You might have to travel to tiny Norway. In March 2014, Norway became the first country where over one in every 100 registered passenger cars is plug-in electric. Among the existing government incentives, all-electric cars are exempt in Norway from all non-recurring vehicle fees (including purchase taxes - which are extremely high for ordinary cars), and 25% VAT on purchase, together making a whisper-quiet electric car purchase price competitive with conventional cars. Take that oil lobbyists...

You want your government out of net neutrality? You might have to go to smart, little Brazil for internet freedom. Remember, when you disrupt the flow of free ideas by allowing money to clog the pipes, you'll have such a backlog of slime that you'll need to hire Godzilla the plumber to clean them out. And as we all know, Godzilla makes a big mess.

when you disrupt the flow of free ideas by allowing money to clog the pipes, you'll have such a backlog of slime that you'll need to hire Godzilla the plumber to clean them out.

It's also why a small agency wins. Small is nimble. Nimble is smart. Smart is quick. And assuming the person at the top of a small agency is open minded and searching for a future not caught in the past, then the possibilities are endless.

Made in NYC? Yea, I've heard of it - The Mechanism helped to write that book for the past 13 years. We're nimble, speed-hungry, cockroaches, nestled in the bowels of New York City. We're surviving, and we're whisper-quiet.

And you know what? You never hear us coming either.

March 17, 2014 - Comments Off on U.S. to Give Up Key Internet Governance Role

U.S. to Give Up Key Internet Governance Role

Obama administration officials moved late Friday to end the U.S.’s role in overseeing Internet domain names and addresses, announcing plans to relinquish its role by the end of next year and turning the keys over to the global Internet community.

Commerce department officials announced that the U.S. government would relinquish its role overseeing Internet addresses in favor of a to-be-determined global body.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers has managed the use and governance of domain names and Internet addresses for the U.S. government since 1998, when it was awarded the task by the Commerce Department. Based in Los Angeles, ICANN oversees the Internet’s address system and has moved in recent years to open up new domain names.

via U.S. to Give Up Key Internet Governance Role | Re/code.

Pair this announcement with An online Magna Carta: Berners-Lee calls for bill of rights for web.

Published by: antonioortiz in Government, The Thinking Mechanism
Tags: ,

January 21, 2013 - Comments Off on MLK’s ‘Merica

MLK’s ‘Merica

Happy Martin Luther King day. Today we honor the memory of a man who stood up for what he believed in spite of the colossal obstacles in his path. The timing of this holiday couldn't be better as we choose again to swear in the first African American President in our history, proof of the progress made. Yet the many issues now facing the President, and our government at large, remain a huge challenge. Yet all of us, from famous civil rights leaders to the everyday Joe, are given a chance with each new challenge to either flourish or fail. Such challenges are inspiring.

This week I sketched a quick portrait of today's hero, one of the best American's or our age.

This week I sketched a quick portrait of today's hero, one of the best American's or our age.

We recognize people who overcome great challenges with fame and celebrity. Their likenesses become representations for all that they have achieved. Who can forget the quintessential image of Obama by Shepard Fairey of "Obey" fame? That image alone represents Hope. Artist Charis Tsevis has taken on many famous personalities including President Obama in his pointillist-like works. They are part collage, part pixel art. He forms his images from abstract shapes or objects related to his subject. Though they may seem sparse in principle, Tsevis achieves amazing depth in his modern digital works.

We've Got His Back

Dancing with Circles

There are some characters who are admired for their ability to overcome any challenge: superheroes. This interesting animation experiment, the Good Man, explores the ideas of good and bad we think as a child. All done using modern web technologies, the style is minimalist and beautiful. Watch in Chrome for best results. While stunning, the hiccups in performance I experienced are representational of the current limitations of such technologies.

The Good Man

Life is a constant struggle, a whole series of challenges. This outstanding short, HEART, is a wonderful inspection of life through visual metaphor and symbolism. Though I'm still unsure what to take away from this animation, I can say it is undeniably a fantastic piece of work.

The Sketching Mechanism is a series of weekly posts, published on Mondays, containing the artistic musings of Mobile Designer/Developer Ben Chirlin during our Monday morning meeting at the NY Creative Bunker as well as his inspiring artistic finds of the week.

Published by: benchirlin in Government, The Internal Mechanism
Tags: , ,

June 9, 2008 - Comments Off on Forum on Participation and Politics

Forum on Participation and Politics

A forum presented by OneWebDay, ISOC-NY and the Information Law Institute at NYU during Internet Week New York as part of the build up to a politically-minded OneWebDay on 22 September 2008. It brought together a variety of renowned scholars, thinkers and activists to provide their perspectives on political engagement on the Net

Jeffrey Barke is senior developer and information architect at theMechanism, a multimedia firm with offices in New York, London and Durban, South Africa.

Published by: jeffreybarke in Government
Tags: