As I get back into DIYcity a bit, I look at the site, and a lot of the language on it seems outdated. There's a lot of talk about people working together, side by side, to collaborate on tools that everyone can use everywhere.
That all feels inconsistent with the world of 2010 to me - a bit like the rally cry of Obama's 2008 campaign, "yes we can". It's not that that message was off-base, it's just that in two years things have moved on. Today people - myself included - want to make things better, but at the same time are more concerned with just building some stability for themselves than with having some big, transformational, let's-all-get-together-and-change-the-world moment.
There's a bit less "let's do it" and a bit more "okay but what's in it for me?"
As there should be, really.
So, given that, what exactly IS the DIY City today? What does "DIYcity" mean, and how is it so relevant to what's happening right now?
Well here's my take.
Starting now, and developing over the course of the next decade, countless new businesses around the world will start up and learn ways to thrive by focusing on making cities and local life better. They will tap into and exploit every conceivable niche of data, technology, and social behavior, to transform cities into unimaginably well-coordinated, functioning, de-centralized places for people to live and live well.
This is going to be both the rise of a gigantic new industry as well as a general transformation in the way cities work and the way in which we think of them. There will be (I hope) opportunity for all parties in this new DIY City - for innovators and entrepreneurs, for city governments, for non-profits, for big companies and small companies, and of course for the people living in those communities.
Done right, the DIY City could be a source for wide prosperity at the local level in cities everywhere, and could be a force against stagnation and for differentiation in cities. (Done wrong, of course, it could result in prosperity for a few, and cookie-cutter communities around the world.)
And it's starting to happen right now. There has been a confluence of forces - ever-cheaper technology, open data movements, the global economic crisis, the hyperlocal movement, the DIY movement - that have jump started the process over the past two years, resulting in everything in this space we've seen to date, but this is really only the beginning. The real DIY City is just beginning, now.
And that, in a nutshell, is what DIYcity means today, in late 2010. Just how we get there is something we can discuss on this site in coming weeks.
I've got to update the language on the site to reflect this new, current vision on DIY Cities and how we can help make them happen. I'll get to that at some point.