Snowy day in Seoul

Snowy day in Seoul

Snow in Seoul

Seoul saw the heaviest snowfall in recorded history today. Make you realize how short “recorded history” actually is. We got about 24-25cm of snow.

Tried for a couple of hours to make it to work on this first working day of 2010, but public transportation was a mess. Gave up after a couple of hours and took the day off to take picture and have fun with the kids.

More photos.

ChangeON conference presentation

On November 20, 2009 I made a presentation at ChangeON, a conference focusing on non-profits internet media, hosted by the Daum Foundation, the charitable arm of the Korean internet portal, Daum Communications. They just posted the video online.

My presentation (in Korean) was entitled “UX for Good”, focussing on how internet technologies and social media benefit non-profits, with 4 stories to illustrate how some non-profit organizations in the US are using the internet to their advantage.

The examples include:

  • CARMA.org, a site dedicated to monitoring carbon emissions from power plants and providing citizens with tools to take action.
  • Ask Your Lawmaker where users can post questions they want to ask lawmakers, visits vote on the question and reporters get the answers and post it back to the site.
  • DonorsChoose.org connecting classrooms in need of small funding for activities with donors across the US.
  • Ashoka’s Changemakers, global, open-sourced competition site which taps the community of social entrepreneurs to generate ideas for social change.

These are all work I was either directly involved in or made aware of when I was at Forum One Communications in Washington D.C.

Also check out all the other great presentations at the ChangeON conference (in Korean). Especially inspiring where the presentations by Jung Jin Ho of Yahoo! Korea, Park Woong Hyun of TBWA Korea, and Pyo Chul Min of WizardWorks.

How losing control isn’t that bad

Mr Splashy Pants / Greenpeace.org

Mr Splashy Pants / Greenpeace.org

Mister Splashy Pants, a whale named after Greenpeace held a naming competition in 2007 isn’t really news, but Alexis Ohanian, who is a founder of Reddit tells a great story at TED (in 3 minutes no less!) of how social media created a meme, took Greenpeace by surprise, won the competition, Greenpeace ceded control and in the end saved whales, literally.

The example shows one way for establish organizations to work with social media: Loosen up and go with the flow. Make the most of the situation and the attention. You need to give something up to gain people’s trust and participation. This is something that corporations and non-profits alike are mortally afraid to do.

Organizations are afraid of losing control over their message. But what is brand identity anyway? Isn’t it something that forms in the minds of the customers and participants? And it’s hard to control what people think of you. Individuals are constantly making adjustments to accommodate, influence or reject the way they are perceived by others. But it’s an ongoing relationship, not one-way. The more social we get in the use of internet technologies, the more relationship-oriented things will be.

So it’s not ok to find new ways to do old things, like one-way communication. Embrace participation. Lose some control. It’s ok. If a serious organization like Greenpeace can have some fun, other can too.

See also: Wikipedia entry

Co-posted on uxforgood.org

Green roof sightings in Seoul

Daum Communications / Ilshin Building

Green roof tops Daum Communications / Ilshin Building, Seoul, Korea

Seoul is not known for it eco-friendly building designs, but a couple of buildings I encountered recently, which have significant green roofs, have made me thinks that there may be hope yet for this city.

A Green roof according the Wikipedia:

A green roof is a roof of a building that is partially or completely covered with vegetation and soil, or a growing medium, planted over a waterproofing membrane. This does not refer to roofs which are merely colored green, as with green roof shingles.

The most significant benefit of green roofs are:

  • Reduces cooling cost in the summer
  • Reduces the city’s average temperature
  • Reduces stormwater run off

The best known green roofs are Chicago City Hall, The GAP Headquarters and Ford Motor Company’s River Rouge Plant.

Daum Communications / Ilshin Building

Click image to view slideshow

Yesterday I visited the new offices of Daum Communications, the distant-second-but-nicer-place-to-work Korean portal site (#1 is Naver.com). It is housed in the newly completed Ilshin building in Hannam-dong which is also the home to the Italian embassy. On the roof of the building I was surprised to discover a green roof. The chairman/CEO of Ilshin Spinning, Kim Young Ho, the building’s owner, is no stranger to design and architecture, having graduated with an architecture degree from Pratt in NY, and served on the board of the Korean Institute of Architects and also know for his formidable modern art collection. The anecdote recounted by one of the Daum staff was that he delayed the opening of the staff cafeteria on the 2nd floor of the this building because he was not happy with the design of trays.

ewha Communications / Ilshin Building

Click image to view slideshow

A couple of weeks ago, I found myself at Ewha Womans University (Note: “Womans” is not a misspelling), one of the oldest and most prestigious universities in Korea. I was very impressed by their recently completed the Ewha Campus Complex, which was designed by French architect, Dominique Perrault. The building itself unnoticeable at first glance since it is half buried in the ground, but this makes for an impressive green roof.

Dongdaemoon Design Plaza (photo: archiCentral.com)

Dongdaemoon Design Plaza
(photo: archiCentral.com)

Ground was recently broken for Dongdaemun Design Plaza, which replaces the aging Dongdaemoon Sports Complex. The London-based architect Zaha Hadid was awarded the commission following an international competition. The most prominent feature of the design is its fluid surface green roof that weaves and connects the various part of the design.

Sugar on Eee PC

Sugar on EeePC

Sugar running on Asus EeePC

Finally got Sugar installed on my Asus Eee PC.

My brother gave me a pink Asus Eee as a gift for my daughter about a year ago, but having used it for a few days I was convinced that the version Linux it was running and the lack of Korean support would do more to damage to my daughter’s computer literacy than help it.

Recently I realized that I could install Sugar Learning Platform, the OS running on the OLPC XO (Nicholas Negroponte‘s One Laptop Per Child initiative) on the Eee. Initial web search was very confusing. Do you need to install Ubuntu? Can you install it from a USB? Do you need a CD-ROM drive…

Mike Lee (@curiouslee) who has been using an OLPC XO and has Sugar installed on his Eee gave me the amazingly simple installation answer. It took basic 2 steps:

You need a Windows PC though.

Step 1: Create a standalone USB drive with Sugar from your Windows PC.

  • Plug in your USB drive (1 gig or more) to the PC.
  • Download and run Fedora LiveUSB Creator.
  • Select “Sugar on a Stick” under “Download Fedora”. Select your USB stick under “Target Device”.
  • Click “Create Live USB” button. This should take a while (It took about 2 hours to download and create for me).
  • When the process completes, you now have “Sugar on a Stick” (SoaS)!

Step 2: Boot up Eee from your USB drive

  • Plug the USB drive into your Eee, then hold down F2 as it is booting up to launch “BIOS Setup Utility”.
  • Select the 4th tab “Boot”.
  • Then select “Hard Disk Drives” from the Boot Settings. Set your USB stick as the 1st Drive.
  • Hit F10 to Save and Exit the BIOS setup.

You are done. The system should start up in Sugar.

Thx Mike for showing me the light. I’m going to test Sugar out and hopefully write more about it.