This is where thoughts become things.

Hi, I'm Daniela. Welcome to my personal lair on the Internet. This is where I write about storytelling, activism, technology and pop culture. Sometimes I post videos. I update my lair when the mood strikes me. Follow me on Twitter for daily updates (@dcap).

Tag : technology

DCAP compendium: what’s happened so far in 2012, what’s to come

I’m constantly writing – just not on, it turns out. I’ve found that it’s faster and more effective to connect with folks and access needed resources through my various social platforms – it works for me. And right now, with everything that is going on in my life, speed and ROI (investment being my time) is critical.

Later in the year, after some of the things go down that I’m about to list in this post, I am going to turn back to my website and make some decisions:

1) What do I want to do with in 2013 and beyond?

2) How am I going to optimally incorporate blog posts and other content into my already active online networks elsewhere?

3) Where will end and begin (my in-progress business site)?

While I chew on these very important-to-me questions, here’s a compendium of links that represent my endeavors this year and upcoming things I’m excited about:


POC Zine Project
I founded the People of Color Zine Project in 2010. Since then, a rotating cast of volunteers and I have organized events, provided mentorship to POC creating zines and supplied mini grants to several POC who needed them for zine-related costs and travel. I also, through POCZP, successfully advocated for more visibility and inclusion for people of color who create their own publications, particularly those who make zines.

Things really took off this year:
– I scanned and shared the first “Race Riot” compilation as a free e-zine/download (with permission from the author).
– My organizers and I successfully planned and booked (and are really excited to begin) the Race Riot! tour through twelve cities, kicking off in NYC on Sept 24 and ending back in NYC on Oct 7.
– I successfully booked multiple paid speaking gigs on the tour route for POCZP to cover the costs of this 100% volunteer tour (big thanks in part to supporters who did email referrals).
– I partnered with Carey Fuller through POCZP to work on a zines series by and for folks living at or below the poverty line.
– I partnered with an amazing teen through POCZP to produce a zine series by and for black youth ages 15-25.
– I coordinated a partnership between Mimi Thi Nguyen, POCZP and Lisa Darms at the Fayles Library at NYU to receive a donation of zines by people of color for their collection, which will be referenced in an upcoming book through Feminist Press.
– I spoke about POC Zine Project and DIY community strategy at mediabistro’s inaugural Social Curation Summit.
– I went to Chicago in March with other POC Zine Project members to participate on a panel at Chicago Zine Fest … but I had the flu and just managed the livestream details from a friend’s guest room, snotty and barfy and miserable, then caught a plane to Cali for work.

I don’t want to give everything away right now, but next year is going to be huge for POC Zine Project. If you want to get a sense of what we’re about, you can watch the archived video of our first MEET ME AT THE RACE RIOT panel held at Barnard in November of 2011:

Ready for more! Yeah? OK, let’s do this:

Some ways to make NYC’s Open Data initiative more people-friendly

Unless you work in government, are a developer or have a tech-focused job, you’ve probably never heard of New York City’s Department of Information Technology and Communications (DOITT) or their cool Open Data initiative that launched earlier this month. That speaks to a broader problem of data sets not being accessible to everyone, which is a shift I see happening over the next few years as more people create their own apps to meet business and pro-social goals.

NYC Open Data website Open Data is essentially an evolving public database of data sets provided by New York City agencies and other city organizations which are available for public use. That may sound incredibly boring but it’s actually extremely exciting and sexy (if you think open government is sexy — which it is). Participants in NYC’s BigApps challenge can harness these data sets to create apps that improve government accessibility, transparency and accountability.

One of last year’s winners was Big Apple Ed, an online guide to New York City schools. The site makes use of data provided by The City of New York and the New York State and New York City Departments of Education.

Why You Don’t Care (Yet)

If you’re not a techie (or a parent), you are probably wondering where the sexy part of this blog post is. I promise, it’s coming. Keep in mind that data can be used in a myriad of ways. If you’re an artist, student, teacher, non-profit organization, marketer, media strategist or small business owner, Open Data is a tool for your arsenal too.

During her recent Strata Conference talk shared by O’Reilly Media, NYC Chief Digital Officer Rachel Sterne discussed how open government could transform New York. Sterne also noted that all of their work opening the data “doesn’t matter if we’re not evangelizing it and making sure people are using it.”

In the spirit of evangelizing shared public resources, I’m sharing my opinion that the reason you don’t know about the awesome potential of the Open Data site is that it was designed for developers, not the average person. This makes sense — NYC government wants to partner with techie people to use their data to improve civic engagement and transparency. That’s awesome. What’s not as awesome is that in this iteration of the site they didn’t empower everyday people to use the data or make the data very people-friendly, which means the only people evangelizing this resource right now are government officials, developers and data practitioners — but it doesn’t have to be this way.

Steven Romalewski, who directs the CUNY Mapping Service at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York (CUNY), wrote an insightful review of Open Data’s features after it launched . In addition to comparing it to its previous iteration as NYC Data Mine, Romalewski points out that for the average user — someone at a Community Board, or a local media outlet, or a City Council member’s office — the city’s implementation of NYC Open Data seems against them. He argues that the real issue here is that the city’s open data efforts are being driven more by the desire to use data access as a way to leverage economic development, and less about true government transparency.

I have to play devil’s advocate here and say that although I agree that the city is using data primarily to leverage economic development, I don’t think the intention is growth at the expense of government transparency. I think it’s just a matter of not seeing the potential of economic growth and innovation through partnering with more than than just developers and infrastructure-focused partner companies.

How To Make You Care

But first, the most important ways that NYC Open Data can be more people-friendly overall: improving engagement by connecting with people in familiar ways that demystify the data and the ways you can access it, such as from cloud application management platforms like Engine Yard that host & support data-driven app development.

1) Create Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and YouTube channels that highlight data sets, how people are using the data and share resources

It’s unrealistic to expect non-developers to visit the site and understand what it means at first glance. Social channels and the content shared through those mediums will make the data more relatable to everyday people, particularly if what is being shared includes case studies, data visualizations, employment opportunities, contests, human-interest stories and other fun opportunities to play with the data.

2) Create and maintain an official blog that offer case studies, best practices, user guides, human-interest stories and solicits feedback on initiatives

The content from this blog can be seeded on the social channels and serve as an incubator for ongoing discussions on different data set use cases.

3) Implement an email subscription/SMS+text alert system that allows you to sign up based on different interests (specific data categories, overall updates, events, etc.)

Only developers will be checking the site on a regular basis. Let people subscribe to what they want and empower them to receive the information in all the ways that work for them.

4) Implement community features

NYC Open Data is a wealth of information for different communities but it’s completely lacking a community component of its own. At the very least, DOITT should add a message board for developers to share ideas and resources and a leader board highlighting the most-accessed data sets. DOITT should also foster community participation by organizing NYC Open Data Meetups and empower community members to lead discussions on different topics.

Now, let’s break down some ways that people who aren’t developers or data scientists COULD use NYC Open Data and site improvements that would make these resources more accessible.


Artists and Arts Organizations


1. Multimedia data-driven installations: For decades artists have explored repetition and data manipulation in their work. Why not create a resource hub on NYC Open Data for artists and art institution that highlights relevant data sets, ongoing projects, and collaborates on exhibitions that utilize NYC public data?

An interesting example would be if the Brooklyn Museum (my favorite art haunt) partnered with the city and local artists to curate an exhibition focusing on 311 data. Visualizations representing the different kinds of calls, complaints and real-time information would be an interesting exploration of community and civic engagement.

2. Grants and scholarships: Philanthropical organizations (if empowered to do so) could use these data sets to determine new funding opportunities based on need, location and intersecting factors. However, they aren’t going to do this if they don’t know how to find the data, what it means, or how to manipulate it to get the information they want.


1. NYC Open Data should create a hub on the site focused on providing resources for artists and arts organizations. This hub could highlight how artists and organizations are using the data, providing recommendations on how it could be used and offer challenges for artists to use public data to enhance city-wide initiatives.

2. NYC Open Data should create an arts-specific Facebook page (“NYC Open Data for Artists”) that spotlights ongoing projects, opportunities and relevant data sets.

3. NYC Open Data should have a developers hub intended for youth ages 21 and younger. More and more young people are harnessing the power of the cloud, data and mobile web development to change the world.


Non-Profits and Grassroots Organizations


1. Grant writing/applications: It would be very beneficial for non-profits to be able to see data from funding opportunities. They could use the data to determine which grants to focus on, the implications of city budget allotments (how money is being spent) and more.

2. Focused campaigns: Grassroots movements like Occupy could use data set information to empower their decisions and to share information and directives with affiliated groups across the nation.


1. NYC Open Data should create a hub on the site for non-profits and civic engagement (activism). This hub could highlight how non-profits are using the data, providing recommendations on how it could be used and offer opportunities for non-profits to use public data to enhance city-wide initiatives.

This sounds like a repeat of my first suggestion for artists and essentially it is — only tailored to non-profits. And just as I stated for artist resources, NYC Open Data should create a non-profit specific Facebook page (“NYC Open Data for Non-Profits”) that spotlights ongoing projects, opportunities and relevant data sets.

2. Specific to Occupy, it would be very beneficial for volunteers to be trained on how to read data to inform their decisions. Leaders could use NYC Open Data as a teaching tool by pulling data to reveal information about arrests, previous protest-related damage and lawsuits, etc.

The examples I listed above are only the tip of the iceberg. Public access to city data and empowering organizations, journalists and everyday people to use the data could kick off a new renaissance of innovation for NYC that could be modeled in other cities. We won’t know until we give people the tools to manifest their dreams.


Brass Tacks: What It Will Take To Make This Happen

NYC Open Data would be much more accessible (make more sense to regular people) and utilized if it took the 21+ data set categories they have already defined (Environmental, Women’s Issues, Media, etc.) on the site and turned them into individual hubs with relevant and consistently updated resources, making sure to include social platforms for evangelizing and community-building.

In order to achieve this goal, the city would need to hire a Supervising Producer to oversee the hiring and management of digital producers with a journalism and activism background for each topic-focused hub. Each digital producer for each hub within the site would work with different city agencies and with data experts and data viz talents to make their hub an accessible resource.

This step would be aligned with NYC’s Digital Roadmap goals and transform NYC Open Data from a helpful but obscure developer resource into a platform for true civic engagement and community around many different issues.

5 Rad Things: ‘Unicorns’ film progress, Sonic for iPhone, iPad 3 release date, Facebook’s Social Design Guidelines, and more

I’ve decided that (as part of this daily blogging experiment) I’m going to kick-off a “5 Rad Things” post that I’ll feature every Wednesday on The Lair.

Hump days are sometimes hard for me, so little factoids/delights that I manage to pluck from the web and turn around in my head are often just what I need to get me through them.

Here are 5 rad things that I’m going to “privately” (ha) obsess over today:

1. Sonic for iPhone

Did you know that Sonic 1, 2, and 4 are available for the iPhone? YES!!!! THEY ARE!!!!

Sonic the Hedgehog was the first game I really got into after Super Mario 3. The Sega Genesis console was the first game system I ever co-owned with my brother, and playing Sonic with him is a memory that brings me a lot of joy. I’m so excited about playing Sonic 1, 2, and 4 when I am on the subway while ignoring creepers. YAY!

If you’re a sneaky devil, there are *ahem* “ways” to get the games for free…. 😉 But you really should pay for them after you’ve tried them out. Developers need to eat too.

2. iPad 3 most likely delayed to 2012

Yup, most tech journalists and insider bloggers are saying that the iPad 3 shouldn’t be expected until March 2012. All you gadget heads out there are probably crying right now. Shaddup, ya babies! This is a good thing. I was actually considering getting the iPad 3 this fall, but now I’m glad it’s being delayed because hopefully that means the new version will role out with even more improved features.

Corvida Fellates Her New iPad 2
Corvida chews on her iPad 2 at a screening of “The Triplets of Belleville”

In our consumer culture, so many folks scramble to buy things they don’t really need. Apple counts on this to feed their bottom line by releasing “new” versions of the same product within months of each other, with only minor improvements. At this stage in my career, it benefits me to have an iPad so I can do product testing. However, it doesn’t benefit me to waste money. So I’m fine with borrowing my friend’s iPad 2 until the iPad 3 is released next year. No biggie.

3. Facebook Studio’s “Creatives Talk” series premieres today at 11am PST

From Cynopsis: Facebook Studio, the page on Facebook designed to share best practices for Facebook marketing from agency pros, is slated to launch a live Web series today at 11 a.m. pacific time called Creatives Talk. The show features interviews with creative thought leaders from fashion, TV, advertising, storytelling and more discussing their creative processes.

The first interview is with Brian Seth Hurst, CEO of the Opportunity Management Company, discussing marketing and multi-platform storytelling. You can watch on the Facebook Live tab on Facebook Studio.

4. Today Facebook released “Social Design Guidelines” on their developers site

Facebook has made it even easier for businesses and individuals alike to create their own engaging products for Facebook and to integrate Facebook into their multi-platform experiences. Check out the guidelines here. As you can see, there’s a very helpful section on plugins and mobile development.

5. I’m so proud of Leah for wrapping principle photography on “Unicorns” last month

Leah Meyerhoff is a friend I met through the Internet in 2008. I don’t remember how I found her, but I remember being struck by the content on her website and wanting to learn from her. I emailed her and she agreed to meet me in person. Since then, over the years I’ve volunteered my time during pre-production on her first feature “Unicorns” and learned a lot in the process. Her Flickr set alone is a wealth of information for first-time directors. Leah is a very loving, driven, and talented person and I’m grateful to know her.

About “Unicorns”
“I Believe In Unicorns” tells the story of an awkward teenage girl who escapes to a fantasy world when her first romantic relationship turns abusive. From Student Academy Award nominated director Leah Meyerhoff (Slamdance Grand Jury Prize winning short Twitch), executive producers Allison Anders (Gas Food Lodging, Things Behind the Sun), David Kupferberg (Magic Valley) and Robin Leland (4th and Goal) and producers Heather Rae (Oscar nominated Frozen River) and Mark G. Mathis (Oscar winning Precious, Brick) Unicorns combines social and magical realism to address issues of teen dating violence from a new perspective.

Unicorns stars Natalia Dyer (The Greening of Whitney Brown), Peter Vack (I Just Want My Pants Back), Toni Meyerhoff (Twitch), Julia Garner (Martha Marcy May Marlene), Joshua Leonard (Blair Witch Project, Higher Ground) and Amy Seimetz (The Off Hours). A Sundance Lab finalist, Unicorns is a supported by an Emerging Narrative Filmmaker Grant from the Independent Feature Project and fiscal sponsorship from the San Francisco Film Society. Unicorns is currently shooting in New York City and the San Francisco Bay Area.

I’m so happy that she’s reached this benchmark and that “Unicorns” will soon be a visual treat for anyone who can get to the big screen (and I’m sure other screen options as well 😉 ). Her newsletter say they are currently gearing up for an additional fantasy shoot and extensive stop motion animation before heading into post production. If you would like to get involved, contact her. They are also looking for an editor based in New York.

Please send recommendations to: info AT unicornsthemovie DOT com

To stick with my theme of rad things, I’ll end this post with her rad bio:

Leah Meyerhoff is a Slamdance Grand Jury Prize winner and Student Academy Award finalist currently pursuing an Masters in film at New York University. Her short film TWITCH has screened in over 200 film festivals, including Cannes, Palm Springs, Chicago International, Clermont-Ferrand, Newport International, Milan International and Woodstock. After winning a Grand Jury Prize at Slamdance and Best American Short at the Avignon Film Festival, TWITCH went on to become a finalist in the Student Academy Awards and win a dozen additional awards including Best of Fest at the Golden Star Shorts Fest, Best Female Director at the West Chester Film Festival, and an Honorable Mention at the Rhode Island International Film Festival.

TWITCH was distributed domestically by IFC and internationally by Reelport and Skandinavia Television. Leah has since directed a Converse commercial and several music videos including TEAM QUEEN for Triple Creme, ETERNAL FLAME for Joan as Police Woman and LIKE OUR FATHERS for Luff, which have screened at dozens of film festivals including Frameline, Reeling, NewFest, and the Miami Gay & Lesbian Film Festival. TEAM QUEEN was a finalist for the Planet Out Awards, won Best Music Video at the Fort Worth LGBT Film Festival and is now airing on LOGO, while ETERNAL FLAME is on MTV Europe.

Leah has received press coverage from The New York Times, The Hollywood Reporter, Film Threat and The San Francisco Chronicle among others. She was also profiled on the IFC docudrama series Film School, directed by Nanette Burstein. Leah graduated with Honors from Brown University with a Bachelor’s degree in Art-Semiotics. She continued her studies at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago before transferring to New York University where she is currently a Dean’s Fellow in Graduate Film. Leah has taught undergraduate film courses at New York University, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, New York Film Academy, and Polimoda in Florence, Italy. She has also been on numerous filmmaking panels and was recently a jury member for Slamdance and HollyShorts, as well as a current programmer for Rooftop Films.

Leah is currently working on her first feature film, a Sundance Lab finalist and IFP grant winner called UNICORNS.

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