PPD – Mapping sub-standard driving?

As I walked to work earlier this week, I spotted some extremely piss-poor driving (PPD). This happens several times a week. Since I walk mainly the same 1.5 mile route (ie the quickest one) and usually leave at about the same time, give or take five minutes, en route I tend to meet the same people and to see the same drivers.

By piss-poor driving I mean things that drivers shouldn’t be doing but that are not bad enough to make me take the time to call the police. If a motorist ran someone over, then I’d call 999. But if they are doing their make-up as they drive to work I wouldn’t call – but I do get really annoyed by it.

Sometimes its a one-off, of course, but on my routine daily walk I see the same offenders doing the same things with regularity – using mobiles, nipping through red lights, not stopping at zebra crossings, not wearing seatbelts, doing their make-up, texting etc

And if I see those behaviours, then probably others see the same. So, if I am late maybe others see the same drivers when I don’t. Wouldn’t it be good if we could all do something about it.

So that got me thinking. How could we use the power of the crowd to do just that?

Last year Ben Marsh put together UKSnowMap. It allowed Twitter users to post tweets using the #UKSnowMap hash tag, their postcode and an indication of the severity of local snow. It was widely used, and praised, and the Guardian ran an online gallery of photographs based on submissions to UKSnowMap.

It wouldn’t be difficult to put together a PPD map.

All that would be needed would be a hashtag (maybe not #ppd as it is used for post-partum depression, it seems), the car’s registration, and the date / time / location – using your mobile’s ability to geo-tagging your tweet. If the tweets were mapped, and preserved over time,  it would build up a picture of the driving habits of the offenders.

I’m not suggesting anything that would lead to prosecutions here. But if the police saw repeated offfenders then they could choose to have a quiet word, and point out that if drivers didn’t want to be featured on the PPD map then they could always drive with more care and attention.

The local papers I’m sure would love it. It would save them sticking a reporter outside schools to see who was parking on the yellow zig-zags. Councils could see hot-spots in their area.  Possibly there are more benefits I’ve not spotted.

What do you think? Is it worth trying? Any volunteers to get involved?



Books – more than one way to skin a cat

In the last couple of weeks I’ve read of two novel approaches to publishing books.

If you are a fan of Cory Doctorow (http://twitter.com/#!/doctorow) then you’ll probably be aware of his long history of challenging traditional publishing models. Back in 2003, he startled the publishing world by releasing his novel Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom under a Creative Commons license. Since then all of his books and short stories have been published in the same way, while at the same time releasing them traditionally – and still managing to sell significant quantities.

Now he’s brought out a new short story collection With a Little Help and in doing so has taken a new approach. Rather signing a deal with one of the big publishers he’s published under his own imprint.

He offers several versions:

  • A CD audio book with celebrity readings,
  • A print-on-demand paperback (via www.lulu.com) with a choice of covers by Frank Wu, Rudy Rucker, Pablo Defendini  and Rick Leider.
  • * A super-limited hand-sewn hard cover that comes with truly unique “endpapers” donated by other authors (including Neil Gaiman and William Gibson) with an SD card containing the full text of the book and the audio-book.
  • DRM-free ebooks and audio versions in every conceivable format, under Creative Commons and on a “name-your-price” basis, and
  • A fifth option: a one-time only, $10,000 chance to commission a new story for the collection.

If you were thinking of that then too late – it is gone. But you can check how the project is going: see Cory’s website for details.

That brings me on to the other model to challenge the publishing norm: The Domino Project. “What happens when a publisher has a tight, direct connection with readers, is able to produce intellectual property that spreads, and can do both quickly and at low cost? A new kind of publishing, the brainchild of Seth Godin, and powered by Amazon.”

This radical new model is untried but looks like it might succeed.

  • “Virality first. An idea that requires a direct sale won’t thrive in a world where the most powerful ideas spread from hand to hand. Create content that works best when spread, and then package it so it’s easy to spread.”

Their first title was Seth Godin’s “Poke The Box” an inspiring,  short read which I found to be a little repetitive could have been titled ‘Just Do It: if you have an idea don’t wait for permission to start”.

Pre-order customers got it for $1. I was a couple of days late and paid £3.12 for the Kindle Edition. I don’t know if the price will go up further – but the model is ‘spread the word about new titles using social media, jump on fast and get the titles at rock-bottom prices. Wait and you’ll pay a little more’. You can subscribe for email alerts or DMs on Twitter.


Struggling to find images?

Are you like me? Do you struggle to find good quality images to brighten up web posts?

Perhaps you can’t be bothered filling in forms to register for stick photography sites – or you find something in Google Images and then struggle to work out if you can use it legitimately .

Well this picture should inspire you:

Delicious Cheesephoto © 2007 Chris Buecheler | more info (via: Wylio)

Using the great website http://wylio.com/ all you need do is enter a search term and choose from the large selection of pictures returned. Choose the size you want and the alignment for it in your page then grab the code. Paste that into your blog post and it’s done.

And what is even better is that it takes care of the licensing issues, putting the code into the post too, linking back to the source and the terms of use – as you can see above.

A wonderful idea, I’m sure you’ll agree, very well executed.

Now where can I get some decent cheese at this time of the evening?