DIYcity started off in October 2008 as a simple online community where people could talk about ways that they could use technology to make their cities work better. The idea was to get people talking about this together, trade ideas, discover best practices, and help stimulate change.
I think we have already succeeded in doing that, in a few short months.
But along the way, a bigger idea began to emerge. It has been implicit on the site for a while, but I've never actually spelled it out anywhere. I felt like I should do that now.
So, here now, as I see it, is the big challenge for DIYcity, the question we're all, aware or unaware, working on together:
Can we, collectively, come up with a complete set of tools that ordinary people everywhere can plug into to make their cities work better? Can we create, effectively, a version 1.0 of an operating system for a new, user-operated city? A city where information is open and flows easily from government offices to residents, from residents back to government, and from residents to other residents, to create a tight-knit information ecology that improves life in cities for all?
And can we, rather than talking about it, actually spur that transformation to happen within cities?
I want people to be able to come to DIYcity, look through an index of (open source) applications, find the ones that are set up for their city and use them, or else set them up for their city if they aren't configured yet. One person should be able to come to the site, and with a little bit of energy activate a whole new service for his or her city.
That is the Do-It-Yourself City. That's what we're working towards.
How we get there exactly is less important to me than that we get there. Challenges, Discussions, whatever, are just tactics for the big goal, of assembling, or pointing to, this collection of tools that people can plug into anywhere to make their cities work, with or without the help of their local government.
And hopefully the local governments will get on board with this movement. I think they will, personally. I think they will have to, actually (that's a separate post). But a central idea of DIYcity is that we shouldn't wait around for the governments to give us tools for our cities. We can, and should, go out and build them ourselves, and let the governments get involved when they're ready.
That's where I see us going on DIYcity at this point, the Big Picture. Can we do this?