The London-based Networked Neighbourhoods has released a set of extremely important studies on "the social impact of citizen-run online neighbourhood networks and the implications for local authorities."
This connects to the heart of the use of open government by the public - you need online public spaces where citizens in the context of governance (particularly with elected officials who can say, these are MY voters talking) are asking for information and generating new public opinion. These online spaces be they "community sites" or a dozen of the different technologies and approaches, are essential for everyday citizens to discuss government and broader community affairs. These exchanges generate general demand for and often specific requests for government information.
Also, from a DIY perspective, it is though these spaces that we see critical mass local adhocracy or coproduction opportunities emerge. (This what we see increasingly here http://e-democracy.org/nf at the neighborhood level.)
Very very in-depth - report links and my take on their work:
Included in the blog post above are updates on the proposed "Meet Your Neighbors Online Week" and the Neighborly nearest neighbors social networking idea.
In the vein of Do-It-Yourself projects and community improvement, I think that the workshop series we are starting at the Green Institute will be great in educating homeowners and businesses about simple and practical ways to save energy.
Coming up we have:
REUSE-ENERGY WORKSHOP ON WINDOW REHABBING ON MARCH 4!
This workshop will help homeowners choose the right option for improving the performance of their windows. Window restoration specialist Paul Schmidt of Twin Cities-based Restoration Window Systems will cover temporary or permanent fixes to reduce heat loss and air infiltration on existing windows, reversing the effects of deterioration on historic wood windows and making an appropriate window replacement. Mark your calendars for Thursday, March 4 from 6:30 - 8 PM at 2801 21st Avenue South, Minneapolis. RSVP to Agatha Vaaler (firstname.lastname@example.org 612.278.7142 ). Cost is $15, which can be paid at the door or in advance. Refreshments will be provided.
Hope you check it out!
If you have a moment to read and respond to this blog post at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, I would appreciate it. Part of the difficulty in getting open gov data is raising it to awareness as a priority.
Milwaukee County mapping site using copyrighted data
By Ben Poston of the Journal Sentinel
May. 26, 2009
Ok, so on 9th March, Transport Minister Stephen Joyce outlined New Zealand's infrastructure's current and future needs over the coming 20 years. Don't know about you, but I'm not prepared to wait for the creation of government-driven projects that try to solve questions that open technology can already answer.
How about approaching something simple for a starting point. Is there any way we can make sense of the jumbled mess of government websites - help communicate Wellington's services and culture in a joined-up way, so that people can actually get value from them?
Transit Television Network, a subsidiary of Torstar (owner of Canada's biggest daily newspaper), has filed for bakruptcy.
In Milwaukee and other cities where it set up on buses, TTV seems universally loathed for reasons mentioned by this LA blogger: http://metroriderla.com/2006/12/03/transit-tv-how-we-hate-thee/
Worst of all, TTV has been an infection in public space. As a local rider puts it, TTV content screams one message over and over: "You are a Bus Rider; You are a Loser. This xxxxxx will save you from your misery. $19.95 and operators are standing by." Or a free PC by giving up your phone number and checking account number. Or the scams that came to us with the SAME actor, different names for the scams, but just call 800 xxx xxxx and your life will be turned around -- $500,000 from your home in one month. No one in their right minds would call such a number but that shouting sent a clear coherent message: You Are A Loser. And that message has pervaded bus service for the last decade.
My question: is there any way the existing hardware might be repurposed by creative groups to have a more publicly edifying message?
The possibilities of this forum are practically limitless - so let's start exploring them! While we haven't had a physical meet up (yet) this space can be a starting point for Twin Cities specific DIY ideas. Please, respond to this thread with
-what the ideal DIY TC would look like
-urgent (TC specific) issues you want to tackle with DIY tech
-next steps in addressing those issues
Also: how can we spread the news about this project? Like any forum, it depends on a quantity of quality contributors - spread the word!
What is the most amazing DIYcity idea you've got? The thing you've been thinking about building for years, or something just off the top of your head right now. Let's have it.