I was writing up these notes to a journalist who was interested in DIYcity, and I thought I'd share them with everyone on the site. Just a little bit on where we are and where we may be going.
Who We Are
First of all, DIYcity is still brand-new, just a few weeks old now. In that time, we've been joined by people from all over the world. Folks have started up groups in cities as diverse as São Paulo, Copenhagen, Portland Oregon, and Kuala Lumpur. Individuals in states like Florida, Illinois, Texas, and in countries like Mexico, Italy and Sweden have joined the site. Our incoming traffic shows an amazingly equal distribution over the world map.
And the people that are joining are an impressive lot. Computer programmers, designers, sustainability thinkers, urban planners, college professors, high-ranking members of city agencies, to name a few. There is a lot of skill and knowledge represented by this group.
In all, DIYcity in a few short weeks has grown into a mass of people from everywhere in the world interested in changing their local areas for the better in an intelligent way. And we can expect that growth to continue into the future.
So, what's working and what's not working?
Well, I get the feeling that all of you, like me, are incredibly busy with your day-to-day lives. You don't have a lot of time to sit around and pontificate. As a result, I think the more hypothetical elements of the site aren't working. The threads that ask people to simply "imagine what they could do" aren't going anywhere. People just don't have the time and energy for that.
On the other hand, whenever someone starts a thread that seems like it could actually produce some real, concrete outcome, have a positive effect on things, lots of people pitch in, and are very generous with their ideas and their time. On those threads, the site feels very alive.
I think there's something powerful to that, and I think that's the direction we should go in with DIYcity. So starting next week, I am going to start organizing real projects, with real outcome, on the site. If you like that, you should join in. (Some of you are already doing this, thankfully!)
Compensation is something we've been asked about by lots of people interested in this group from the outside. We haven't been asked about it, interestingly, by anyone who has joined the site.
As the group grows and starts to actually build things that make a difference (and that take real time to build) I think there should be some sort of compensation for people's efforts, in some cases. I'm not at all sure what this is yet. It may be money, it may be something else (opportunity, for instance). I would love to see an organic market arise for projects on the site, where people or grant-giving organizations offer to support development of projects they approve of, or even projects they have requested themselves. That seems like it's a long way away. But things are moving quickly and we have the wind at our backs, so maybe it isn't so far away. Anyway, for now, as with everything else on DIYcity, compensation is ad hoc at best (and maybe that's for the best).
We want to have a meetup! We want to have one that involves all of the DIYcity groups around the world simultaneously. And we want real, usable tools to come out of these meetups. The people at The Open Planning Project have kindly offered to host the first meetup for the New York City group, and we're working with them to get the right date. We'd love this to be in December, but it might have to wait until early January, for reasons of schedule conflicts. Stay tuned, it will happen soon.
So in all, we're very impressed and excited with the way things are going with DIYcity. I personally feel that in another few months' time we will have seen an order of magnitude growth on the site, both in terms of members and in terms of the things we're taking on. I look forward to watching this whole thing evolve. And I look forward to hearing more from everyone out there who have put such great ideas into the project to date.