Last week was a busy week behind the scenes at DIYcity, and hence a slow week on the site itself, so I wanted to give a quick update on the site for all.
First, you may have noticed that the right nav has changed a bit. We now have links to a centralized "Challenges" page, a centralized "Projects" page and a centralized "Specs" page (as well as a centralized "releases" page which isn't active yet). This is all reflective of the way in which DIYcity is evolving from a place where random conversations happen and go nowhere, to a place where focused conversations happen and lead to actual product that communities can use. This is pretty exciting, but it's also still pretty early in this evolution, so there's not a whole lot to look at yet there. I'll post more on this idea before too long.
Then, lots of work was done last week on the first DIYcity project, outlined here, and the people involved are getting very close to a 1.0 release. Exciting. Hopefully more news on that this week.
Next, a lot of what has been happening with this 1.0 project has really just involved nailing down the basic design philosophy that should guide DIYcity development - questions like "should this app live on one central server for every community, or should communities all set it up individually on their own servers?" It's an interesting discussion and I'd like everyone who wants to chime in on it. I'll post what we've got to the wiki in a bit and invite additions/subtractions/comments. Getting to a good, common understanding of a design philosophy seems like a big step toward getting DIYcity going as a real place for development and change.
Lastly, you may have noticed a lot of test emails coming in over the weekend. We're still trying to wrangle with that mysql/php bug that happens whenever someone posts to a group with lots of members. No solutions yet, short of moving to a dedicated server. Remember for now: if you post a new message to the site and see garbled mysql errors, DON'T repost - your post went through just fine.
Okay, now on with the show!
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?
We've got a spec on the First DIYcity Project all ready to go, and are planning a launch as soon as some light development is done on it. Now we need a developer who can help us get to the finish line.
If you're a developer, please consider being that person.
It's a very short and contained project, not a lot of work. Could be easily done in your spare time.
See spec here.
All code written will be open source and will live on DIYcity's servers.
Anyone lending a hand will be credited on the app with your name and a URL.
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for details if you're interested.
Hi, just starting DIY Baltimore.
great article about the CEO of Limewire, who now wants to open source peer-to-peer software to tackle problems of urban planning.
very relevant to the goals of this group. talks about the top-down versus ground-up approach....
Everyblock (http://everyblock.com) is reaching the end of their Knight Foundation grant, and will be open sourcing their codebase on June 30th (http://www.holovaty.com/writing/everyblock-future/). So, the question is, how could an open source Everyblock be used by DIYcitizens?
Everyone loves tamales and everyone loves late night situations where a friendly stranger delivers hot fresh tamales right to your bar stool. So, after some intense conversations surrounding the Tamale Guy here in Chicago, we came up with a great idea. What if it were some how possible to follow the Tamale Guy via Twitter as he made his rounds? A user community that would tweet when and where they saw the tamale guy and then users could be able to follow the progress by following the twitter.com/tamaletracker (tamaleguy was already taken).
How it works:
- twitter users send a @Reply to @tamaletracker when they see the Tamale Guy at their favorite pub in Chicago.
- then a scheduled listening service looks for any @Replies that have come into twitter.com/tamaletracker.
- when a new tweet comes in, the twitter.com/tamaletracker account then ReTweets on their behalf.
- twitter users sign up to follow twitter.com/tamaletracker or simply go to twitter.com/tamaletracker.
- choose to recieve sms alerts when twitter.com/tamaletracker tweets.
I created this the other day and have not tested it beyond my own tweets up until now. So if anyone does choose to use this little tool please let me know what bugs you find or if it just plain doesn't work for you.
Develop plan for a scaleable grassroots bus tracking system that operates in realtime.
The New York City MTA just abandoned its second effort at providing a bus tracking system for the city's buses. From the article on NY1.com:
It's the second time the MTA has thrown in the towel on a tracking system. Back in 1996, a similar project failed, in part because satellite signals were lost in the skyscraper canyons of Manhattan -- just one of many issues, the MTA says, that makes it difficult to predict arrival times.
"It's not just the urban canyons, but the schedules, the tight schedules, the headways, the traffic. The operating environment I think is the most challenging of any city's," said Sassan Davoodi, Co-Project Manager, NYC Transit.
Can you come up with a plan for a bus tracking system that can be put in place in a DIY way, that addresses the above issues and is scalable?
Post your solutions as responses to this post.
(topic for this challenge appropriated from Anthony's post here)
Well, its official. The NYC Transit has abandoned its effort to do real-time bus tracking for the second time.
Can we come up with a DIY solution that tries to address this?
When we put out a call for help for the First DIYcity Project, DIY Chicago member Dan Greenblatt wrote in and said he'd like to help with conception and project wrangling. So over the past week Dan and I have been trading emails on what shape this project should take. Dan has had some great ideas, we've had input from the Hashtags.org folks and a few others, and together we came up with an idea which Dan put into an initial spec. That spec is now in the wiki if anyone cares to take a look. Feedback is welcome. (Please comment here, rather than in the wiki, to make discussion easier.)
A few notes:
- We decided to keep the initial product very simple and easy to execute, with an eye toward addressing more complicated stuff in future releases. We figure it's best to get something up and out the door, then add on to it, rather than getting bogged down with complexity right off the bat.
- You may notice references to "DIYcity design principles" in the doc. These emerged out of a conversation Dan and I had about this app, along with a realization that DIYcity *ought* to have design principles, even perhaps needs them as guidelines for future development. I'll post what we came up with as far as principles in a separate thread, and anyone who is interested can comment and help shape that document.