Still more notes from #ActivateNYC12

I spent yesterday at the Guardian Active Summit.  Here is my last round of observations/thoughts from the afternoon sessions:

Questions. Om Malik, the founder and editor in Chief, GigaOM Network, talked about how important it is to be constantly learning.  He explained: “If I start the day with five questions and I end the day with five questions I have failed. If I start the day with five questions and I end it with ten I have succeeded.”  He added that the media industry, in particular, has a lot to figure out right now, that it is even more important that they ask questions (and have questions asked of them).

Numbers.  Andrew Rasiej, the founder of Personal Democracy Forum, shared three numbers that caught my attention:

  • 56.8%… the percentage of eligible voters who actually voted in 2008 campaign.  That number isn’t very high when you consider how many people chose not to exercise their right to vote (and how important participation is to a functioning democracy). Sadly, the number who participate in the 2012 election is expected to be lower.
  • 390,000… As a part of its commitment to open government, the Obama Administration has released 390,000 data sets to date.  As Rasiej noted, a lot of that data may be useless, but people are building interesting things on top of some of the data, and its creating opportunities – for government and non-government folks alike – that weren’t there when that information was not being shared.
  • 5.9 billion… the number of mobile phones in the world (roughly 87% of the world’s population).  The majority of those phones, right now, are not smartphones – but its only a matter of time before the computing power of the devices that people across the globe carry makes our current smartphones look like those old-school brick phones (that Zack Morris used to use on Saved by the Bell).

More numbers. Nancy Lublin, the Chief Old Person at, shared a few more eye-popping numbers:

  • 100%… text messaging has a 100% open rate.  And, texting actually over-indexes for minorities and urban youth.
  • 3330… the average teenager gets 3330 texts a month (and for teenage girls that number is closer to 4500 per month).
  • 1/3… one-third of all homeless in the United States are under the age of 18. 

Mark Every Death.  Clay Shirky introduced a site called Homicide Watch D.C. ( which provides a listing of every homicide in the nation’s capital.  No exceptions. Every victim is featured on the site and has their own URL – allowing family and friends to access, or share, information that relates to the murder.  As Shirky put it, “the site is designed as if the web exists.”  No editorial choices are made about what to feature on the site, because everything gets covered.

That’s it for now.