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Jamboree on the Internet

October 19, 2008

On the third weekend of October each year, Scouts from all around the globe get together for the Jamboree on the Air and Jamboree on the Internet. It’s rather “old school.” JOTA connects Scouts via HAM Radio, while JOTI connects Scouts over the Internet. Using the same Internet Relay Chat infrastructure we used 20 years ago (before the “world wide web!”) we connect to a series of private servers called Scoutlink.

I tried JOTI last year – didn’t get too far into it. One of the issues with IRC is that when it is busy, it is REALLY hard to follow a conversation in a busy chat room. But this year I gave it a bit more of a try. It seems like the best things in life always take a couple of tries until you get it right.

One of the cool things JOTI has developed is a system of validation cards. Ham radio operators have used these for years. After you make contact, you fill out a card to say that you made a new friend. Thanks to the Internet, these cards don’t have to be mailed anymore. They can be sent almost instantly as printable postcards.

Using IRC, once you make contact with a new station/Scout group elsewhere in the world, you can then log on to the website and send a validation card. I probably only sent validation cards to about ¼ of the folks that I met this weekend. And I probably sent close to twice as many validation cards as I received. But that still came out to having received contacts from over 40 new Scout groups around the world!

My 8 year old and I met lots of new people. Many were from the UK, quite a few from Australia. All over Europe and Asia, a contact from South America ~ but we never got a validation card from anyone in Africa. Maybe next year?

Our afternoon project tonight was to print out all of our cards, pin them to a board, and tie them to a map. It was fun, and is a really cool way to remember JOTI.

[edit: the following image was added to this post.]

JOTI Contact Board

JOTI Contact Board

3 Comments leave one →
  1. October 19, 2008 8:35 pm

    Wonder how it might work with Plurk?

  2. October 20, 2008 8:39 am

    I don’t think it would work on Plurk or Twitter. As much as I like Plurk, it capitalizes on relationships. You become someone’s friend, and can follow their posts and interact with them. (Twitter would inherently be worse because you wouldn’t see both sides of the conversation.)
    But JOTI is a lot like a “flash mob.” While you may carry the relationships forward into some other social networking tool, they are not pre-existing. You enter chat rooms like #leaders, #youth, and #english and make first contact. Many of the stations are manned by Scouts with volunteer adults overseeing the chats kicking those who misbehave and violate the rules of the jamboree.
    Doing this on Plurk, if you could overcome the whole preexisting relationships problem, would then introduce a new problem in that individual Plurks would become themes that would quickly grow to 1000s of comments (and take very long to load), or would duplicate the same conversation in various places.
    Old school Internet Relay Chat is actually quite the perfect tool. As developed as our newer social networking devices have become, we tend to forget about the strengths of some of our old trusty friends.

  3. October 20, 2008 8:44 am

    I wanted to add a trackback here for another great (earlier) post I found about JOTA/JOTI –
    Please see the end of this post for a great video, which can also be found on YouTube at this URL:

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