Welcome to my website, where you can find articles and presentations about civic tech, digital transformation, grassroots humanitarian aid and other topics.
Devin Balkind runs for 2017 NYC Public Advocate
“I’m running as a politician you can reach with your smartphone — a ‘facilitator’ rather than a ‘representative’ — to give New Yorkers a voice and new ways to participate, reach consensus, and get what they need.”
Presenting the Open Aid Movement at Open Source Bridge
“Open source” is a method for putting intellectual property in the public domain, allowing anyone to use it however they see fit. I’m an advocate of the “open source way” because I believe that if more people shared intellectual property of all types – whether its farming techniques, software code, music, etc – then we’ll […]
How to Run Collaborative Projects That Don’t Fall Prey to Bureaucracy
This piece was published at Sharable on July 21st, 2017. Today, when people call something “bureaucratic,” they usually mean that in a negative sense, but bureaucracy didn’t always have this negative connotation. About 100 years ago when many professional bureaucracies were being built, they were seen as a means of bringing quality control, predictability, and integrity to administrations. But […]
When Platform Coops are Seen, What Goes Unseen?
If you’re involved with the “cooperative community” on social media, you’ve probably heard a lot about platform cooperatives in recent years. The vision is simple: what if Uber or AirBnb were owned by its users, who could share decision-making responsibility and profits among themselves? Instead of being exploited by platforms, users could and should be […]
What is “Municipalism”?
Originally posted at municipalist.org The definition of “municipalism” is still up for grabs. If you Google the word you’ll be given a snippet from Wikipedia about “libertarian municipalism”, a compelling but very specific utopian political philosophy of Murray Bookchin. Surely “municipalism” can and should mean something more. Over the last fifty years, the percentage of people around the globe living in urban areas has […]
Cryptocurrency Can Shift the Balance of Power Between Cities, States and Nations
Originally posted at municipalist.org One of the most powerful tools of a modern nation is its central bank’s ability to create money “out of thin air.” Nations can use this new money to purchase their own nation’s debt in the form of treasury bills, bonds and notes, allowing it to spend more than it earns in taxes and other […]
Cities Can Prepare for Trump by Establishing Digital Service Organizations and Mobilizing Civic Tech Communities
Originally posted at municipalist.org Within a few weeks of Trump’s victory, mayors of big “sanctuary cities” throughout America, including New York, Chicago and Los Angeles declared that they wouldn’t collaborate with a Trump administration order to deport peaceful, law-abiding resident. Trump is now threatening that he will deny these cities federal funding unless they comply. The amount […]
Occupy Sandy and the Rise of Open Aid at AIANY on 9/10/16
The AIANY invited me to present my perspective on Occupy Sandy at their event “Stand Up! How to be Part of the Solution after a Disaster.” My presentation argues that Occupy Sandy, and the mutual aid work of its predecessor Occupy Wall Street, were physical-world manifestations of the “Open Aid” trend taking place in the disaster relief […]
Sahana Software Foundation Overview at the 2016 Global CAP Implementation Workshops on 8/22/2016
As president of the Sahana Software Foundation, I had the privilege of delivering a brief overview describing Sahana to the 2016 Global CAP Implementation Workshops held at the Asian Institute of Technology near Bangkok, Thailand. Slides are embedded below. This conference was my first time engaging, in-person, with the disaster relief community outside the United States and I was extremely […]
Introducing Data Models for Human(itarian) Services
This was originally posted at Sarapis Immediately after a disaster, information managers collect information about who is doing what, where, and turn it into “3W Reports.” While some groups have custom software for collecting this information, the most popular software tool for this work is the spreadsheet. Indeed, the spreadsheet is still the “lingua franca” […]
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