I had an idea over the weekend for a way to implement the TrafficTweet idea, and do it in a big way. And I'm getting the itch to build it and launch it now. And so that's what I'm going to do!
I'm going to get in touch with a few people who have been involved in the TrafficTweet thread to see if they want to pitch in, and then see if we can get something up quickly, live, for people to use.
If you read this and want to help out, drop me a line. No matter what you do, you're welcome to pitch in.
AND, if you read this and you are some charitable .org that likes to support things like this, also please drop us a line. Even if it's just to offer server space for hosting the idea, every contribution helps.
Servicing the Charlotte metro area, this traffic bot uses the emailed traffic reports from a local radio station and they are fed through ping.fm into the twitter account.
Also still testing is the user reporting feature. Users send a @reply in the format of: "@485sucks report Accident: Tryon and 5th st." and using a feed from search.twitter.com fed through tweetbots, the user tips are tweeted.
Ben's tip for others working in the same area:
Relying on feed based data and using something like TwitterFeed results in delayed reports and also a stack of 5 or so tweets at a time which can annoy many users. The ping.fm method is much cleaner.
Cool, thanks Ben.
There are several great threads going on right now on DIYcity, and they're so spread out across the site that I wanted to collect them all in one place, for anyone who wants to follow them and/or jump in with discussion, planning or development.
First, there is an ongoing New York City Zoning Data discussion. An API has been built for a zoning app, and people involved are talking about next steps for creating an actual app around that API.
Then, there's some really interesting talk around improving Andy Weissman's TrafficTweet. The idea is really coming together, and the latest idea seems like something that would really be worth trying out in a city.
There is an ongoing discussion on what would make the best Ridesharing App, that includes some good criticism of the existing apps out there. The latest post is really right on, and I think something good is going to come out of this.
Lastly, there's an interesting idea being floated for a networked, distributed delivery system, which the author is calling Open Source Post Office. Seems promising.
There are several other ideas brewing too, which will hopefully boil up something good.
It's great to see some of these ideas moving toward becoming actual working apps. Anyone who has ideas, energy or resources to help move them to the next stage shouldn't hesitate to jump in and help make that happen.
For those of you not listening in on the Discussions group, I wanted to point you to yesterday's post from DIYcity member Jordan:
I put together a quick web service for querying zoning/land use information in New York City over the weekend. You can either pass a street address or longitude/latitude pair and it will return data for the 10 closest tax lots as an XML document. (And if you pass a street address, it will attempt to match the address on the PLUTO record and send that as the first record.)
Read his full post here.
Excellent, nice work Jordan.
Seth Godin recently posted about an Iphone application idea he had:
"Have the iPhone use the gps data... upload where I was a minute ago and where I am now. Figure out my speed and route. Use the data to tell other RadaR users which route is best."
You can read the full post here: http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2008/11/an-iphone-app-t.html
We're really excited about the potential for this app and what all of you here at DIYcity can do to make it come to life.
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?
Hey all, really great news: you can now take part in conversations on DIYcity directly from your email account, without having to come to the site.
Yup, that's right - DIYcity works like an actual listserv now.
When you get an incoming email from DIYcity, if you want to comment, just hit 'reply', type your message and send it. That comment will show up on the site beneath the original post, and go out to everyone else on the list as an email. People receiving that message can then reply to it via email as well.
You never actually have to come to the site to be a part of the conversation.
For it to work correctly, you have to send your email from the address you signed up for DIYcity with.
Try it out!
Thanks to Brett in Mexico City and his associates in Europe for pulling this together.
Also, if you haven't yet, sign up for the Discussions group to be in on the discussions there...
Today we're launching a new group on DIYcity, Discussions. The Discussions group is a place where everyone can:
- pose a question or problem to others that needs addressing
- offer ideas for ways to address a problem
- iterate on / improve others ideas
- meet others who are interested in the same problems or in the same solutions to these problems as you.
The Discussions group takes the idea of DIYcity Challenges and moves it out of the realm of building apps, and into the realm of discussion, debate and idea sharing. This should allow us to iterate on ideas and arrive at better models more quickly and easily than by asking people to actually build and submit completed apps in response to challenges.
The ideas that come out of the Discussions group will then help direct DIYcity meetups, as well as guide future DIYcity Challenges.
The Discussions group is meant to be very chatty - everyone who joins should feel comfortable posting and receiving posts frequently. All ideas are welcome, you don't need to be an expert to post.
Please join the discussion! http://diycity.org/group/discussions
We've created a Facebook fan page for you to keep track of events such as meet-ups and conferences, connect to other DIYcity users, and see videos tutorials of applications developed here on DIYcity.org. You should be able to find the fan page under non-profits or websites. Please join us, we'd love to see you!
I wanted to welcome and call others' attention to the new groups that have popped up in the past week representing cities around the world.
I started a group here with a Milwaukee focus because that's where I am, and I have a few friends involved in improving the local government data infrastructure, which determines what can be done (by anyone) with that data.
But of course this is an international, universally relevant issue today, though it is motivated locally by the particularity of local issues. (See the Open Government Data group: http://groups.google.com/group/open-government )
Some ideas for posting here and starting a discussion:
*What is your interest in open government data, in general and for where you live?
*What are some of the technical and political issues you want to learn about?
*What do you already know that you can share with others?
It somehow feels like a new world out there today, so it's fitting DIYcity has its first user-submitted app! Traffictweet, created by Andy Weissman, is a twitter bot that lets people broadcast current traffic conditions to others listening in. Subscribe to it, broadcast messages about traffic, and receive messages sent by others.
The app is pretty general of course. It would be useful to have different twitter feeds set up for different cities, for starters, and then you could segment it further several different ways to minimize noise to users. Still, this is a great first step for trying out and moving forward with. Kudos to Andy.
I just subscribed to the feed and am going to start playing around with it. If you're interested, you should do the same.
Or else take the idea one step further and build something better.
Thanks for the site :)
It might be a good idea to move to Drupal 6 as soon as possible, before you depend on too many Drupal 5 only modules. Clean URLs would be nice.
Most important (for me) is to have OpenID login. It's standard in Drupal 6 and comes as a 3rd party module for Drupal 5.
Other than that, I haven't spent much time around yet. Perhaps setup some kind of wiki features to let anyone edit a class of pages.
Some people have written to me in the past few days interested in starting a DIYcity group in their own city. This is great - it's exactly what we had in mind with the site. Lots of the issues we will be taking on here are the sort where the particulars are different in each city or town, so it makes sense to have special groups for each of those places. And having a local group allows for meetups to happen as well, and that's going to be one of the most interesting parts of DIYcity.
So, if you want to start a DIYcity group for your own city or town, it's very easy and here's how you do it.
First, if you haven't yet, join the site.
Welcome to the Main Group at DIYcity - this is sort of DIYcity central. Use this group as a place to post general announcements, questions, ideas, etc. to everyone on the site.
More to come...