The Power Of Participation – The Ushahidi

Every now and then when I spend time online I find things that make me shiver cause they’re so freakin cool. Today I found an open source project that matches that description and I’d like to share it with you. It regards an organization called Ushahidi and their kick ass crowdsourcing platform.

Ushahidi, which means “testimony” in Swahili, was initially a website developed to map reports of violence in Kenya after the post-election fallout at the beginning of 2008. Ushahidi’s roots are in the collaboration of Kenyan citizen journalists during a time of crisis. Since then Ushahidi have grown from an ad hoc group of volunteers to a focused organization.

Crime reporting in Haiti with the Ushahidi platform
Now the platform is available as an Open Source platform and it kicks ass. It’s among the coolest mashup platforms I’ve seen. Since launch the Ushahidi collaboration platform has been used to collaborate on crime tracking in Atlanta, , wildlife tracking in Africa, monotoring of voting in Mexico, mapping the crisis in Haiti and even cleaning up after the Snowmageddon in Washington and a lot more. The platform lets you contribute via mail, Twitter, SMS and online reporting.

You might have read the book Here Comes Everybody by Clay Shirky. If not the short story is basically that Clay writes on how internet fundamentally changes the way we communicate due to the fact that this world wide web thing creates a never ever seen platform that enables people to create, share and consume information at a close to no cost. The Ushahidi platform is more or less rocket fuel for the ideas Clay is bringing forward in his book.
What do you wanna mashup? Head over to Ushahidi and get going!