Mapping Obama's Speech in Berlin

As announced on the Global Sensemaking blog, and building on Tim Bonnemann’s excellent Wordle and Mark Szpakowski’s suggestion, I produced a draft map of Barack Obama’s speech in Berlin yesterday, which you can view and explore here.

The snapshot below displays the top layer of the map, and you are welcome to log-in and improve both the top layer and the underlying structure of the first draft.

As noted in the earlier post, the preparation of the first draft of the map emphasised the different senses, dimensions and saliencies of the speech that emerge via the different forms and interpretations: video, transcript, Wordle, and map. And, no doubt, others experiencing Obama’s speech first via TV news analysis, newspaper reports, David Frum, a photograph, or at the speech itself would take away different senses too.

To illustrate how it is possible to develop this kind of mapping analysis further live on the web already, I have started to weave together the map and the transcript of the speech using the Future of the Book’s marvellous CommentPress tool to enable directly addressable, granular access to the text of Barack Obama’s speech, linked to the relevant sections of the map (and vice versa)—with a video clip layered into the latter example for good measure as well.

The granular addressability is shown at the paragraph level in this example; however, CommentPress—which is being applied imaginatively to several public consultations in the UK—allows the user to define a deeper level of granularity, enabling a finer one-to-one correspondence between the source document and the map.

The hope embodied in this experiment is that in the build up to the Presidential election in November it might be possible exemplify the potential of the emerging web technologies to shift the modus of political debate (a degree or two) away from the calculated cacophony of ephemeral soundbites toward a more considered, constructive and cumulative conversation.

If you are willing to help in the pursuit of this goal—working on the transcripts, mapping and tying together the arguments, highlighting inconsistencies and areas of agreement, and holding the candidates transparently accountable to their words—please join us.

Don’t think about thinking. It’s not on the test…

A double thank you to Dan Pink (and Mike Sporer) today, for introducing me to Tom Chapin’s guitar-based critique of trends in modern education policy:

Obviously Tom’s closing observations about the importance of teaching of students how to think and engage in rational discourse strike a chord here. And our belief in the potential multiplier gains to society from helping children to develop their thinking skills explicitly rather than implicitly, has been one of our primary motivations in making Debategraph freely available to schools and colleges as an open education resource.

Viewed as a whole, though, what do you think of points Tom’s making? What are the other issues and voices in the debate?

I have embedded a rough starting point for the debate map below, using the arguments presented on Tom’s Not On the Test site, and would welcome input from teachers, students and educational policy specialists to help develop the map into a comprehensive overview of this vital debate.

I not robot…

Thanks to Mathew Ingram and David Weinberger, I have just marvelled at these two videos in quick succession, and found myself feeling singuarly unsettled:

Big Dog walking:

Lego robot solves Rubik’s cube:

UPDATE: One month on, and thanks to Marc Andreessen, the feeling isn’t going away:

Robot reassembles itself after being kicked apart: