Geeks Without Borders: Live From Inside DC’s Crisis Camp

Photo courtesy of
‘CrisisWiki team at crisiscamp dc #ccHaiti’
courtesy of ‘andycarvin’

Special to WeLoveDC by contributor Dave Levy

Volunteering to assist Haiti has taken many forms in the past few weeks. For example, last weekend, groups of laptop-wielding volunteers tried to help out in cities far from the disaster-stricken country. In six cities around the hemisphere – including Washington –data mappers, researchers and other technological gurus brainstormed and created offerings that could be implemented from afar.

Today, volunteers are back at it in D.C., as well as 12 other cities across the United States, UK, Canada and Colombia. The scene inside NPR’s Massachusetts Avenue office this Saturday morning showed over 200 local techies using their powers for good. The great news is that this unofficial effort of “Geeks without Borders” isn’t limited to technical ninjas. As David Hale put together in this fantastic document, there are ways that even the least tech-savvy can contribute, and there is an open invite for interested parties to offer any tools they can.

The group really has accomplished a lot in the eight days since the first meetings, as noted on the Haiti Crisis Camp blog, dataphiles and coders have leveraged their skills to already complete tools that are offering unique results for the country:

Two projects are already live: 

Tradui: As Brady Forrest wrote at O’Reilly, this free offline dictionary converts Creole to English and vice-versa. “The data came from the HaitiSurf Creole to English Dictionary. It was built by Intridea and came out of Crisis Camp DC. It was released to the Android market on 1/19.” – this is a “craigslist” for exchanges of tech, services or other needs for NGOs. “It’s a place where relief organizations can quickly post their most urgent needs and have them matched by generous donors during a time of crisis.” If you’d like to participate in the program, please let them know.

I live and work in the District of Columbia. I write at We Love DC, a blog I helped start, I work at Technolutionary, a company I helped start, and I’m happy doing both. I enjoy watching baseball, cooking, and gardening. I grow a mean pepper, keep a clean scorebook, and wash the dishes when I’m done. Read Why I Love DC.

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5 thoughts on “Geeks Without Borders: Live From Inside DC’s Crisis Camp

  1. I’m an experienced (30 years) writer-editor. It’s not clear to me where to volunteer or how I can help enhance CC messaging. Please advise if you need someone to copyedit or create some of the content you wish to distribute. I commend this effort. Geeks are some of my favorite people. My son sells a T-shirt in his Cafe Press store that reads “I Love a Geek.” Anything I can do to help out with this crushingly sad situation I will do. (Heard about this effort through DCCW list.)

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