Jackson Hts., New York, January 15, 2014 - Last November activist and author David Bollier blogged  The Silent Giveaway of New York City’s Internet Domain: Will De Blasio Step Up?  about our initiative. It summarized some key aspects of our effort quite well and with Bill de Blasio now sworn in as New York City’s 109th Mayor, we thought it worth a reprint.

Guest Post by David Bollier

The election of Bill de Blasio as Mayor of New York City suddenly presents a rich opportunity to reclaim a commons-based resource that the Bloomberg administration was on the verge of giving away. I’m talking about the pending introduction of a new Internet “Top Level Domain” for New York City, .nyc.   

Top Level Domains, better known as TLDs, are the regions of the Internet denoted by .com, .org and .edu.  They amount to Internet “zones” dedicated to specific purposes or countries.  Over the past few years, far beyond the radar screen of ordinary mortals, the little-known Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) – which manages TLDs — has been pushing the idea of TLDs for cities.  If Paris wants to have its own Internet domain — .paris – it can apply for it and get it.  Rome could have its own .rome and London could have .london. 

New Yorker Thomas Lowenhaupt of Connectingnyc.org – a long-time advocate for treating the TLD as a shared resource – has written, “I’ve often thought of the .nyc TLD in its entirety as a commons — that the .nyc TLD is a digital commons that we all need to protect as we today (seek to) protect our physical streets and sidewalks by not littering, and provide clean air, parks, schools, health care, fire and police protection, and the like, to our built environment so that it best serves 8,200,000 of us.”

Here are some examples that Lowenhaupt has come up with for how .nyc could make New York City more accessible and navigable:

                

 

 

 

 

 

The idea is that Internet users could use the TLDs to access various aspects of city life by using them in creative ways.  Instead of having to rely on Google to search for museums in New York (which would yield thousands of not-very-well-organized listings), you could use museums.nyc and find everything laid out more intelligently.  Or if you were new to Brooklyn Heights, you could go to brooklynheights.nyc and find all sorts of civic, community and commercial website listings for that neighborhood – the library, recycling resources, parking rules, links to relevant city officials.  And yes, the businesses. The possibilities are endless — and potentially enlivening for a city.

Under Mayor Bloomberg, the city was going to let a private vendor sell off the domain names with minimal city oversight.  Anyone could buy up “restaurants.nyc” and any hotel chain could buy “hotels.nyc.”  These would amount to privately made, market-driven choices about the future of New York City.  They amount to urban planning decisions. Unfortunately, the implications of the Bloomberg plan has received scant attention. However, the final contract between the City and ICANN for .nyc TLDs has not yet been consummated, so the De Blasio administration could plausibly step in and take correction action.

It should.  The current plan is crazy and short-sighted.  Infrastructure should be used to serve the needs of everyone, not just the highest bidder.  And TLDs are surely a form of civic infrastructure that belongs to all of us.

As Tom Lowenhaupt recently noted, if the current plans for .nyc go through, “we’ll not have a guiding framework like the Commissioners’ Plan of 1811 which mapped Manhattan’s street grid.  Instead of a thoughtfully organized digital grid, .nyc will bring a chaotic mean-streets, a digital reincarnation of the 1980’s Times Square.”  This is the logical result of the Bloomberg administration’s choice to let the management contract for the .nyc TLD to a vendor who wrote the RFP [request for proposal].  Imagine if city planners had surrendered the grid-layout of Manhattan streets to road-builders or General Motors. 

Monetizing the TLDs by selling them to the highest bidders achieves little of lasting value.  It simply surrenders equity control (forever) of a key piece of city infrastructure and planning authority to private parties.  This has sweeping global ramifications. Why should the City willingly give up its priceless .nyc TLD to some philistine investor, possibly a non-New Yorker, whose only goal will be to host a motley strip mall of .nyc domain-names and milk their leasees for all they’re worth? Why not use this infrastructure more creatively and deliberatively to advance the larger, collective interests of New Yorkers?

It is unclear if Mayor De Blasio cares enough about this issue (or understands its implications sufficiently) to intervene.  Does he understand how this seemingly arcane technical matter will have enormous, far-reaching implications for the future of the city?  Does he and his staff appreciate how the .nyc TLD could be a rich tool for empowering the City’s 352 neighborhoods and helping people around the world to interact more intelligibly with the City’s people and resources?  (For the latest official thinking on the .nyc TLDs, here’s an account of the October 17 advisory committee meeting on the .nyc TLD.)

A commenter on Lowenhaupt’s blog, Eric Brunner-Williams, notes that New York City is a global city, a premier cultural venue and a thought leader.  It should act accordingly.  It should not simply outsource control over this vital city planning resource (the TLD) with little thought to the larger public and long-term implications.  There is too much at stake for the “little people” and non-commercial interests who have been marginalized for the past twelve years.

Fortunately, according to Brunner-Williams, the administrative plans for the .nyc TLD can be “easily redressed within the existing contract and/or reasonably redressed within a competitive rebid process to a much larger universe of capable contractors, and improved substantively by sources of informed and interested policy advisory offerings to the implementing agency.” 

Mayor-Elect De Blasio, you’ve invited the people to make suggestions for your new administration. You’ve made the beautiful point that “we all rise together.”  Here’s an issue that will directly affect our ability to do that.  How you choose to deploy the .nyc TLD will have far-reaching implications for many generations of New Yorkers.

Reprinted from author and activist David Bollier’s blog post of November 7, 2013. 

Learn more about the opportunities provided by the .nyc TLD on our wiki pages.

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Jackson Hts., New York, December 26, 2013 - I’ve mixed feelings when I hear the “IF YOU SEE SOMETHING, SAY SOMETHING” announcement on the subway. At first I’m annoyed because my train of thought has been broken. But then an image like Boston’s tragic marathon will pop into my head and I’ll groan, “OK, it’s necessary.”

IYSSSS acknowledges that the public’s participation in our public system safety is vital. It draws upon our common interest, and it invites and engages the public to help avoid a potentially deadly situation. One can hope for a less intrusive way to deliver the message, but maybe it’s just a commons chore. 

We need a similar campaign to protect our city when the .nyc TLD arrives. But because it’s new, it will require some explanation. Here’s a four layered campaign.

  • First, create a vision message that presents .nyc as a commonly owned resource that benefits us all - like the air, the streets, the schools, the libraries, and the parks.
  • Present examples of the benefits residents receive with a thoughtfully developed .nyc TLD; and of the consequences for cities that neglect to do so.
  • Initiate an education effort that preps residents to identify those using .nyc websites to squat on names that belong to others, that scam and swindle, and that infect computers with malware.
  • Most importantly, we need to create a system that effectively responds to abuses. These may be provided by a neighborhood or community; or by the government’s workforce through 311, the NYPD, the Departments of Consumer Affairs and Finance, the Secret Service, etc.
  • And we need an IYSSSS-like slogan to keep the civicly aware on their toes.

In short, we must create a civic culture that engages residents to report those using .nyc domain names in ways that diminish our city’s social and economic order.

At the same time we need to recognize that this is a very, very sensitive task. And as we scope and develop this culture change we need to avoid creating a Nanny or Orwellian state. (Graphic of subway steps courtesy of CnI.)

Learn more about the opportunities provided by the .nyc TLD on our wiki pages.

General-Update-b.pngNovember 23, 2013

Hello All,

First, note that next week’s regular Thursday meeting falls on Thanksgiving and is cancelled. December 5th is our next Open Board Meeting.  (For those of you who’ve not been following closely, our weekly meetings are Google Hangouts.)

Good news arrived in author and activist David Bollier’s post The Silent Giveaway of New York City’s Internet Domain: Will De Blasio  Step Up? summarizing the many commons features of the .nyc TLD and urging Mayor-elect de Blasio to examine the possibilities. Here’s a sample:

It is unclear if Mayor De Blasio cares enough about this issue (or understands its implications sufficiently) to intervene.  Does he understand how this seemingly arcane technical matter will have enormous, far-reaching implications for the future of the city?  Does he and his staff appreciate how the .nyc TLD could be a rich tool for empowering the City’s 352 neighborhoods and helping people around the world to interact more intelligibly with the City’s people and resources?

Then, if you missed it, take a look at our Hope.nyc? post (below). It discusses the status of the .nyc TLD application before ICANN. It’s a somewhat bleak report. But several other recent developments might be of interest and cumulatively are good news (in an algebraic, two minuses equal a plus kind of way.)

  • Ken Hanson, the contractor’s lead employee for .nyc, has departed NeuStar for sunnier grounds. The .NYC Advisory Board heard from Ken at its second meeting. He is temporarily being replaced with his boss, Jeff Neuman. I’ve met Jeff on several occasions and he’s competent fellow. But he runs NeuStar’s Registry Team that is managing 300+ TLD applications - one of which is ours. It would be good if Ken’s replacement was a New Yorker, familiar with the needs of our city. (Maybe there’s a job there for a departing Bloomberger or one of our supporters. Contact Jeff Neuman if interested.)
  • At our second meeting Ken reported on a Collision Report about names that are used multiple times within the DNS (domain name system) and may not be used until cleared via an ICANN review. The report listed 17,539 .nyc domain names. While the vast majority of these are of little consequence, some are important to the effective operation of our city, for example, mayor.nyc, council.nyc, youth.nyc, and restaurants.nyc.
  • Because of the Rights Protection Mechanism - developed to protect the rights of Trademark holders - the city will need an “Approved Launch Program” prior to activating .nyc. This program will need to explain that our use of mayor.nyc is vital to our city’s operation, and that we will not use the domain name to sell cigars (the trademark holder for “mayor” is a cigar company). Same for the Corona neighborhood vs. Corona the beer. And on and on. Perhaps a hackathon and/or some social collaboration software might have a role here. Ideas welcome.
  • But there’s good news too. I’ve met with fellow .NYC Advisory Board member Seth Taylor and we’re working toward a “clean” list of domain names for the 100 or so businesses within the 82nd Street Partnership, the BID where Seth’s serves as Executive Director. We’ll look to address problems such as ineligible characters, e.g., spaces and &, and corporate vs. trade names. We hope to work this pilot list through the .nyc/ICANN review processes and spread the experience to the city’s other 80+ BIDs.

Have a great Thanksgiving and hope to see you at our December 5th Hangout. (Oh yes, and apologies for the Generally lame joke.)

Tom Lowenhaupt, Director

Learn more about the opportunities provided by the .nyc TLD on our wiki pages.

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Jackson Hts., New York, August 23, 2013 - The Bloomberg Administration’s .NYC Advisory Board held it’s second meeting in City Hall’s Outer Ceremonial Room on August 14th. A meeting report was released today by board member Thomas Lowenhaupt - see it here.

The good news is that the Advisory Board has been expanded with 3 new members appointed to represent the city’s small businesses and Business Improvement Districts. Other good news is that an ICANN initiated a “Name Collision” study that might delay the implementation of the .nyc TLD for several months. You’re probably asking “Is a delay good news?”

With several problems remaining, it is. Consider this one. Trademark interests are pushing to the head of the line, demanding that they get first dibs on picking .nyc domain names. By some counts there are 25,000,000 trademarks globally, many of which collide with our civic interests. For example: police is a trademark for an insect repellant. Corona and Rugby are beer and clothes trademarks as well as neighborhood names. And mayor.nyc could go to the cigar manufacture holding the “mayor” trademark in the tobacco category. Some trademark proponents are even fighting a suggestion that a 100 domain names be set aside for civic purposes.

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But the most critical unresolved issue relates to establishing an effective Nexus Policy. Nexus defines who is a New Yorker and entitled to use .nyc names, and the current policy has an enforcement crack in it that might enable tens of thousands of squatters, spammers, phishers and other Internet undesirables to slip through.

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Jackson Hts., New York City, July 27, 2013 - The architectural design of the .nyc TLD will have a significant impact on its economic viability and its capacity to serve city residents, organizations, and visitors. To help explain that impact we’ve created a wiki page using a  “TLD is land” analogy to discuss the plus and minus of several TLD architectures.

Two elements of city-TLD architecture - name structure and useability - are discussed in detail. Name structure is presented as the TLD’s supporting steel and concrete. And useability the features that facilitate access: finding tools - index.nyc, contents.nyc, search.nyc, etc., Trust Buttons, and the consistency of the TLD’s look and feel. Building upon the experience with the United Kingdom’s .uk TLD, we’ve suggested a first draft of a generic second level name-set.

In discussing usability we note the advantages that arise with an intuitive city-TLD, enabling New Yorkers to cut through search engine clutter, using domain names such as:

  • search.french.restaurants.nyc
  • reviews.schools.nyc
  • map.hardware.stores.nyc

    Finally, we discuss the opportunities a vertical TLD provides to circumvent the exclusions necessitated by a strict nexus policy.

    See the TLD Architecture wiki page and let us know what you think. 

    Learn more about The Campaign for .nyc on our wiki pages.

    linked-open-data.pngJackson Hts., New York, March 17, 2013 - The city of New York took an historic step last year when it approved of an Open Data Law that will make the preponderance city government data available as a commons. The arrival of the city’s TLD provides an opportunity to further develop city digital resources and extend the data commons.

    The range of possibilities is long with the low handing fruit the DNS Data Query Log, a database of inquiries made of the .nyc registry of domain names. Properly anonymized, the Data Query Log provides the potential for a ‘twitter-lite’ data resource providing a pulse of the city.

    And perhaps most expansively, if we can educate New Yorkers about the cumulative value of our individual knowledge, train residents to curate and present this knowledge using linked open data and .nyc URIs, there’s an opportunity to thoughtfully organize the sum of city knowledge into a globally trusted TLD. Secondary values can arise from this such as a locally controlled search.nyc. And economic development advantage would follow via local jobs and keeping ad revenue in our city. 

    The .NYC Advisory Board, a new entity created by the city administration to provide strategic guidance on the operation of the .nyc TLD, provides a channel for expressing the public will on this issue. Let us know what you think about the above and your ideas about using .nyc data and we’ll pass it through the city’s decision making process. NOTE: Our founding director is a member of the Advisory Board. (Commons graphic courtesy of Wikipedia.)

     Learn more about The Campaign for .nyc on our wiki pages.

    Jackson-Heights-balcanized.pngJackson Hts., New York, January 1, 2013 - What impact might our new digital infrastructure have upon our city’s neighborhoods? For the past few years we’ve cataloged some of the benefits that might arise from thoughtfully allocated and locally controlled neighborhood websites on our dotNeighborhoods wiki pages.

    But over the past few months, with the city having submitted an application and begun moving toward the activation of the .nyc TLD, we’ve not received the assurances we expected about city hall’s plans for neighborhood networks, i.e., give residents the opportunity to self govern their neighborhoods as they have historically. Indeed, unofficially, we’ve been told that they will not be following our recommendations and the neighborhood domain names will be sold off with a bottom line perspective, not civic betterment.

    So let’s explore the impact that action might have on my favorite neighborhood, Jackson Heights. Today there are a dozen or so sites that currently serve our neighborhood’s needs, have served them and are reorganizing, or are preparing to enter the fracas of local media.

    The Many Jackson Heights’
     JacksonHeightsLife.com  JHBG.org
     JHGreen.org  jhdogs.ning.com/
     Queens7.com  JacksonHeights.NYDailyNews.com
     NYTimes.com/JacksonHeights  JacksonHeights.Patch.com
     JacksonHeights.Neighborly.com  Google.com/JacksonHeights
     JacksonHeights.EveryBlock.com  JacksonHeights.NewYork.craigslist.com
     YP.com/JacksonHeights  iwantmorefood.com/the-jackson-heights-food-group/

    And under the current “unofficial” plan we could add JacksonHeights.nyc to that list, along with sites such as WesternJacksonHeights.nyc, NorthJacksonHeights.nyc, The BetterJacksonHeights.nyc, TouristJacksonHeights.nyc, MyJacksonHeights.nyc, DiversityPlaza.nyc, HistoricJacksonHeights.nyc, etc.

    How do residents locate and communicate with one another in such a digitally balkanized neighborhood? Where is the center of our neighborhood when there’s an emergency, an opportunity, or a joyous event we want to share? How do we network over dozens of sites?

    It’s long been my view that a central point of contact was critical to the existence of an inclusive and livable neighborhood. Especially in an ethnically and culturally diverse place like Jackson Heights, its vital that we avoid cubbyholes that fester about problems that “they” are causing. We need a central local, a town hall, a public square, a forum, a bulletin board where information is posted and important ideas exchanged.

    This is not to imply that all these current sites should not continue as the .nyc TLD comes to life. Indeed, there’s no way to prevent a plethora of sites. And perhaps most importantly, it’s vital that we have a multiplicity of sites to serve our needs. One solution might be a simple blogroll on an “official” JacksonHeights.nyc.

    So let me start 2013 with a plea to our officials in city hall: We’re reaching out to the 38 other global cities that have applied for their TLDs to determine how they are using their historic neighborhood names. We suspect our research will steer the city toward empowering our historic neighborhoods, making them a key building block of our new digital civic infrastructure. City hall should wait for our research results before adopting an allocation policy for our dotNeighborhoods.

    Wikimedia-DC-July-2012a.jpg Washington D.C., July 12, 2012 - Connecting.nyc Inc. (CnI) today announced the start of a pilot project supporting the organization’s dotNeighborhoods initiative. The pilot will focus on the development of a local media center serving the Jackson Heights neighborhood of New York City. With an active, civicly engaged population, perhaps the most culturally diverse population in the city, as well as the location of the organization’s home, the neighborhood is seen as providing a rich opportunity to discover the capacity of a locally controlled and operated media center to address the needs of a typical city neighborhood.

    The announcement was made on a Local Wikis panel at Wikimania 2012, the annual meeting of the Wikimedia Foundation, publisher of Wikipedia, Wiktionary and other collaborative resources. The panel, organized and moderated by the U.S. Department of State, had representatives from several innovative local wiki projects: CnI’s director, Thomas Lowenhaupt, John Cummings of the U.K.’s Monmouthpedia, Richard Knipel of Wikimedia-NY, Philip Neustrom of Local Wiki, and Frank Muraca of Fairfaxpedia.

    During his presentation Mr. Lowenhaupt described the experience gained from the NYCwiki.org project, a collaboration with the New York Internet Society and Wikimedia-NY. He described how 322 of the city’s 354 neighborhoods had been activated by users entering local information, wiki style.  

    Mr. Lowenhaupt’s presentation outlined a pilot project for the Jackson Heights neighborhood that would offer four resource layers:  

    • Wiki - The great lesson from NYCwiki.org, the collaboration between CnI, Wikimedia-NY, and the New York Internet Society was that the public can be a willing contributor to local media projects. The neighborhood wiki will provide residents with the opportunity to preserve a community memory of events, resources, problems, opportunities, etc., providing a history to guide discussions about the neighborhood’s future.
    • Official Information - Information about the physical and institutional neighborhood: population, government services, places, maps, education and cultural resources, etc.
    • Communications - Providing a capacity to reach out and connect with neighbors using the latest digital media. In addition to an evolving stat-of-the-art Internet presence, this is to include outreach, education on the use of the wiki, computer recycling, and the location of public access points at libraries, schools, Wi-Fi hotspots, etc.
    • Decision Making - A capacity to facilitate discussions, guide decisions and engagement with the neighborhood’s future.

    The project’s initial outreach effort will take place on Sunday, July 22, 2012 at a Town Hall Meeting on 78th Street in Jackson Heights (between Northern Boulevard and 34th Avenue). Staff and volunteers from Connecting.nyc will explain the goals and purposes of the project to Town Hall participants, and request that residents begin to load information on the projects site.

    Over the next several months CnI will be selecting resources, including a domain name, to facilitate a transition from the NYCwiki.org site to the JacksonHeights.nyc address, expected to be released in 2014. Information about the dotNeighborhood initiative is available on our wiki. Those interested in following or contributing to the minute by minute development of the JacksonHeights.nyc pilot should watch here.  (Image by Patti: L to R, John Cummings, Richard Knipel, Thomas Lowenhaupt, Philip Neustrom, and Frank Muraca.)

    Learn more about The Campaign for .nyc on our wiki pages.

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    Jackson Hts., New York, June 13, 2012 - I recently requested the support of a bright young urban planner in identifying and developing engagement and collaboration tools for use by the city’s dotNeighborhoods. He declined my invite saying that Google was getting better every day at finding things, that good domain names were unimportant in locating resources; and if one needed local information, or to file a complaint, sites such as EveryBlock and 311 were available. Therefore the dotNeighborhood names were probably unnecessary.

    With Google’s near-magical ability to locate information, I can appreciate the “If you need something, just ask Google” viewpoint. And if the need is to buy a book, auto, or find a movie, then most certainly it does. But living within a world of civic activism, I question the extent to which finding things helps us do things - other than in some atomized, subject-to-master complaint filing manner. Indeed, for the consumer, Google is God. But how well does it support the needs of civil society, citizens, and the cultivation of livable neighborhoods? 

    Subject ~ Citizen ~ Consumer 

    At the recent Freedom To Connect conference, author Barry C. Lynn spoke about a transition of residents of what’s now the United States of America from “subjects” to “citizens” during the colonial days. The above graphic from the draft of the Declaration of Independence, shows the hand of Thomas Jefferson changing residents from being “subjects” to “citizens.” (Hyperspectral imaging by the Library of Congress enabled the discovery in 2010.) That change in viewpoint had a huge impact on residents’ view of their role and responsibilities in society. For example, the “subject” exists under government and petitions power, the citizen grants the use of power to government. According to Lynn, “The subject passively consumes, the citizen produces goods, and ideas, and work.”

    In the later part of the 20th century another change in attitude occurred when citizens became “consumers.” Lynn placed the origin of this shift with an agreement by the hard right and hard left to change government’s role from protecting markets to protecting the consumer. The significance of this change is becoming increasingly apparent as the Net eases consolidation and fosters efficiency. Lynn stated that this change toward efficiency will foster bigger scale and efficiency, and that the drive for efficiency has historically led to autocratic rule. He used as examples the efficiency Rockefeller heralded to defend his oil monopoly, and Stalin’s defense of his monstrous reign on the basis of the need for efficiency.

    Lynn didn’t draw a parallel between the googles and Stalin, but he cited Justice Brandies to the effect that “the preachers of efficiency are always aiming at autocracy.” And speaking of the desirability of aware and responsible citizens, he spoke of the “liberty of the citizen to make a community with one’s own neighbors,” and quoted Justice Marshall on one of the benefits of inefficiency: the friction that sustains democratic society. (See Barry Lynn’s 30 minute talk.)

    Neighborhood Consumer or Citizen?

    Since about 1950 there’s been a growing abundance of information about the world in which we live, indeed, the late decades of the 20th century were frequently referred to as the Information Age. And for the last decade or so, as the Net and Google-like entities have evolved, it’s been increasingly easy to find that information.

    Getting back to my discussion with that urban planner and his view that the power of search and 311-like complaint services provided suitable tools for addressing local needs, let me raise some concerns with some recent experiences. 

    My hands-on experience with civic issues, solutions, challenges, opportunities, tasks, and the like has largely been at the local level. Having a 30 or so years involvement with making more livable neighborhoods, I can say that the information abundance has not helped me to a significant degree. Let me provide three examples from this past week.

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    • Sleeping Beauty - My apartment is conveniently located near a well stocked neighborhood retail street with a great supermarket separating my building from the street. At the supermarket’s rear are two bottle recycling machines. The machines are turned off at night but with their accoutrements, they sometimes provide shelter for a homeless fellow (see picture right). Yesterday a neighbor saw him “relieving himself” on a parked car and called the police. While awaiting their arrival another neighbor urged him to go to a park or the local pedestrian plaza. When the police arrived they joined the residents and, using their power of intimidation, suggested he “go home” and “leave this place” - which he did. A Google search of “homeless services in new york city” provides any number of institutional remedies - NYC department of Homeless Services, New York City Homeless Shelters, Coalition for the Homeless - that I’m certain provide a variety of worthwhile services. But the beat cop did just what they’ve done for generations. And the availability of the Google links (46,040,000 listings for “homeless services in NYC”) did not adequately engage what I know to be caring residents.
    • The Transportation Study - Living just off a busy retail street I’ve been quite aware of the traffic snarls that have afflicted our neighborhood for the 20 years I’ve lived in my current residence. The horn honking that is the penultimate expression of that traffic was for years just far enough away that I was able to say to myself - “how can the people living there bear it.” That traffic problem was taken up in a significant way two times in the 14 years I was a member of the local community board, to no avail. But in 2009 our congress member addressed the issue with a 500K traffic remediation study. This began a year or so of car counting, public meetings, and engineering studies seeking a solution. A digital feature of the study was a website provided by the city’s Department of Transportation, and my Google search of “Jackson Heights traffic study” returned 204,000 results. And halfway down the first page of results was DoT’s portal to facilitate public participation in the planning process - http://a841-tfpweb.nyc.gov/jackson-heights/. Not a good domain name, but google did a reasonable job of finding it.
    • Queens World Film Festival - This past week my wife met with a co-worker in Astoria, a neighborhood or two away from us, and mentioned a Queens World Film Festival in which she had participated. The co-worker expressed regret that she’d missed the event and asked “How can I find out what’s going on in Jackson Heights.”

    Google made it easy to find the available services for the homeless, and if you knew there was a traffic study underway, Google would help you find it. And the co-worker could sign up for a Google Alert and learn about a plethora of events taking place in Jackson Heights. But a missing factor in these situations was a geographic center point for identifying these needs and the means for acting on them.

    The Empowered Citizen

    Which brings me back to the dotNeighborhoods. Imagine we cultivate these names, creating digital commons where local issues and opportunities could be found, a place of permanence that utilized an existing intellectual resource - the neighborhood name. And imagine if these dotNeighborhoods - Astoria.nyc, BrooklynHeights.nyc, Corona.nyc, Ditmars.nyc, EastHarlem.nyc, Flushing.nyc, GreenwichVillage.nyc, etc. - had alert capabilities, and provided state-of-the-art engagement, organizing, and coordination tools that linked residents to one another and the existing civic infrastructure.

    It seems to me that placing these tools in the hands of residents might re-enthrone Jefferson’s citizens, empowering them to improve their neighborhoods and their world. And that the alternative is an increasingly atomized population of consumers that petition distant masters through invisible channels, channels that were not designed to foster civic life.

    What do you think? (Images: top, from Library of Congress, bottom the CnI library.) 

    Learn more about The Campaign for .nyc on our wiki pages.

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    Jackson Hts., New York, May 4, 2012 - The city has committed to making the .nyc TLD a reality and the wheels of government are starting to turn. Our attention is returning to the neighborhood domain names - Astoria.nyc, Chelsea.nyc, BrooklynHeights.nyc, etc. - and how they are developed.

    We’ve several wiki pages on our dotNeighborhoods initiative, one of which links to an informative Case Study by the Hunter College Graduate School of Urban Affairs. As well, we’ve an ongoing research collaboration with the New York Internet Society and Wikimedia-NY, see NYCwiki.org.

    On Thursday, May 17, 6-8 PM, we’re meeting at the Neighborhood Preservation Center to scrutinize our musings and move toward engaging neighborhood activists city-wide and creating a viable governance and business model for the neighborhood name-set. The Center is at 232 E. 11th St, New York, NY (map). The draft agenda is available. Register or email your intention to attend to info@connectingnyc.org.

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