Justin Jacoby Smith is an organizer, web geek, Buddhist, and poet.

apps as 'the new volunteerism'

“It’s a new kind of volunteerism,’’ Nigel Jacob, one half of Boston’s Urban Mechanics office, told the Boston Globe. “It’s not volunteering your sweat equity. It’s volunteering the devices that are in your pocket to help the city.’’

The city of Boston is working to develop an Android app that uses the accelerometer & location data of a phone to automatically sense & report potholes as the phone's owner hits them while driving. The biggest challenge developers are facing is how to train the phone to tell the difference between false positives--speed bumps, railroad crossings--and real potholes that the city needs to fill.

I kind of love this, municipal monitoring creepiness notwithstanding, but 'volunteerism'? There's a difference of moral weight between volunteering your 'sweat equity' (time, energy, passion) and volunteering the processor in your pocket computer. As cool as it is that there's a network of computers around the world helping ramp up the processing power for SETI, I don't think anyone would confuse those volunteers for the guys doing repairs on the International Space Station.

Can't wait to take care of my community service requirements with my forthcoming SpotTheDCTrash app.

Boston's 'Street Bump' App Tries To Automatically Map Potholes With Accelerometers and GPS | Popular Science.