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Jackson Hts., New York, March 9, 2012 - I was at City Hall on Wednesday for Mayor Bloomberg’s signing of the Open Data Law. Having testified to the city council on a draft of the measure in 2010, I affirmed my support for the legislation. After concluding my remarks I passed on a copy of our award winning The Flushing Community poster to the mayor, saying I hoped it would help the city prepare for its next digital task - planning for the arrival of the .nyc TLD.

After the signing, a prominent expert and practitioner of all things digital, Beth Noveck, a professor at New York Law School and former Deputy Chief Technology Officer for the Obama Administration, said “You’re next.” and I was doubly cheered.

But then a conversation with Carole Post, commissioner of the city’s Department of Information Technology and Telecommunication (DoITT), darkened my day. With Connecting.nyc Inc. the first and primary advocate for the TLD’s acquisition, I’d hoped that our December 22 recommendation, that New York wait for ICANN’s second filing round, had provided the city with a basis and latitude for postponing the filing. (That statement’s essence said “no research, no outreach, no real deadline - let’s wait”.) But the Commissioner stated that they were on a path to submit an application to ICANN by the April 12 deadline.

I then asked the commissioner about the missing research and public engagement and she said “We’ll do that afterward.” I tried again, reiterating that there’s no rush, our TLD has been, in essence (see comment below), reserved for when we’re ready, and that ICANN has announced that it’s preparing to reopen the filing window. “We’re on a path to file by April.” she again stated. I tried a third time, stating that the filing required serious commitments on the part of the city, but she was sticking to her path.

I left city hall disappointed but thinking, “Afterward might not be that bad, at least they’re going to do it.” But I returned home to think about the situation, ponder her statements, and to look over the level of commitment required in the New TLD Guidebook. Beginning on page 99 it spells out 50 questions, many concluding with “A complete answer is expected to be no more than 10 pages.” And as one might imagine, there are many potential devils in the details that must be spelled out: Who qualifies to apply for a domain name, who gets what name, how is it decided, for how much, for how long, are there restrictions on name use, how are the needs of local businesses addressed, what about civic organizations, neighborhoods, schools, churches, how are our cultural resources preserved, what is the sustainability plan…

I was left wondering how they were completing the application without public outreach or expert assistance. Maybe they were going to fill it in after filing as the Commissioner indicated? But the Guidebook seemed clear that changes were the exception not the rule, and that ICANN would base its decision on the April submission.

Today I decided to prod DoITT and asked “What about the neighborhood names - JacksonHeights.nyc, Harlem.nyc, ParkSlope.nyc, etc. - what are the plans for their allocation.” I await an answer. 

So here I am, one month shy of an 11 year effort to bring this important resource to the city, and I find myself arguing against doing so. A sad situation indeed. (Commons Photo of Thomas Lowenhaupt at City Hall - courtesy of CnI Library.) 

Tom Lowenhaupt

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

god-from-sistine-chappel.0.jpgJackson Hts., New York, February 12, 2012 - We  first took note of the commons in 2007 when star intern Matt Cooperrider suggested that we include “the commons” in our musings about New York’s TLD. While our early explorations were less than bold, our engagement was emboldened in 2009 when Elinor Ostrom won the Nobel Prize in Economics for her work on managing common pool resources. (See the Common Pool Resource chapter on our wiki.)

And when commons expert David Bollier suggested during an October 2011 interview that city-TLDs could be the newest commons, serving as “open greenfields for new local governance structures,” our interest spiked and we sought ways to engage a broader public in our evaluation.

That opportunity will arise this coming week at Making Worlds: A Forum on the Commons, a 3 day event that begins Thursday in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. We’re proud to report we had a role in organizing this opportunity for all to learn about the commons and the possible role a thoughtfully developed commons might play in creating a more livable, just, and sustainable world.

While we expect the entire Forum to be illuminating, we’re especially looking forward to Saturday’s 5-7 PM workshop Nurturing the Commons, New and Old. The workshop will look at ways a city-TLD can facilitate “new local governance structures” and how the management and governance lessons provided by the likes of Elinor Ostrom can assist in their realization. (See Making Worlds program.)

Making Worlds is a working conference with food provided to all participants courtesy of Occupy Wall Street. Join us in a most exciting event. (Photo courtesy of Michelangelo and Wikimedia Commons.) 

[See Connecting.nyc Inc.’s director Thomas Lowenhaupt’s presentation on SlideShare. And read David Bollier’s report on the event.]

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

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Jackson Hts., New York, January 23, 2012 - Wink the Penguin is back. After mysteriously vanishing in January 2009, Wink is back atop the boulder on which he stood for 14 years at the intersection of 75th Street and 37th Road, in the Jackson Hts. neighborhood of New York City - home of our corporate HQ.

A global search and retrieve effort by local residents, civic groups, and the Linux community is credited with the return. However, the entire episode remains a mystery: the perpetrators of the chicknapping, his location during the interregnum, and the time and means of his re-installation remain unknowns.

Locally, the search included officials at the Police, Parks, and Transportation Departments, and then Council Member Helen Sears. (See search results.) Others with local and global connections were brought in to help secure Wink’s return. The Jackson Heights Beautification Group (JHBG), the premier local civic organization, when appraised of the apparent chicknapping, plastered the neighborhood with fliers requesting help.

Additionally we reached out to the Linux community, developers of the Linux operating system, with Tux Linux-Tux-small.JPG the  penguin its mascot, asking that they monitor online channels to help resolve Wink’s whereabouts. The basis for Wink’s return remains a mystery - local posters, global internet, or perhaps Wink just wanted to explore the city - but when Wink returned in February 2010, we and the entire Jackson Hts. neighborhood rejoiced and offered thanks to all who helped enable his return.

Recently, in the bitter cold of a snowy January day, a local resident adorned the neighborhood’s beloved Wink in a custom knitted red and white hat and scarf. The photo at right shows Ed Westly, president of the JHGB, with Wink safely back atop his boulder and in his new garb. (Commons photo courtesy the CnI Library. More on Wink.) 

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

King-Charles-II.jpgJackson Hts., New York, January 16, 2012 - When King Charles II and the Duke of York (later to be King James II) granted the land west of the Hudson to two loyal friends, they established the Hudson River as the boundary between New York and New Jersey. This legacy from the colonial era continues to plague our region with infrastructure, environment, and business planning taking place within myopic “state” views. The most recent instance of this, according to the New York Times, arose when New Jersey officials tried to lure the Fresh Direct from Queens to Jersey City with a $100 million package of tax breaks, land, and other subsidies.

Since 1921 the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has administered many common harbor and development interests – bridges, tunnels, rail, water, air, and teleports. But strategic planners declare that if the region is to grow and maintain its role in an increasingly globalized market, it must solve regional integration problems caused by the colonial era action.

A regional TLD provides an opportunity to begin repairing the damage of 1665. Our Regional Consolidation wiki page looks at this, as does the scenario raised in our dotNeighborhoods initiative about handling the hoboken.nyc domain name.

Around the globe, especially in Canada and Europe, cities are far ahead of the U.S. in creating regional entities. Let’s make the most of this digital opportunity. (Commons image of King Charles II, from Wikipedia.) 

Learn more about our overall effort from our Wiki Home Page

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Jackson Hts., New York, January 12, 2012 - Urbanflow, a Finish joint effort with Nordkapp, envisions an operating system for cities. The scenario explored in the 5 minute video revolves around situated urban screens and their potential uses (right). Worth a look. It concludes with “It’s going to happen somewhere, let’s make it happen here” with the “here” being Helsinki.

This is something that should be an integral part of a city-TLD’s development process. But few in the traditional registry-registrar industry that controls the ICANN environment have an inkling as to the potentials, with the possible exception of the Swiss registrar CORE. The industry’s business model, more names = more money, skews creative thinking about urban TLDs.

But with the rise of the Internet of Things and growing awareness of the value of trusted TLDs to decision-making machines like IBM’s Watson, some cities are beginning to look into the possibilities of city-TLDs as the platform. Here in New York we have the initiative of Pachube (meeting tonight!) that offers hope for the home team.

Learn more about our overall effort from our Wiki Home Page

Hangout-Mike-Palage-and-5-others.JPGThe Net, September 9, 2011 -  We convened our usual 10-11 AM Thursday meeting using Google+’s new Hangout feature yesterday. The question of the day was: “Whose TLD Is It: the City of New York, the State of New York, or the “Internet Community”? The answer is quite complicated if you consider that there are several options for New York’s TLD: .newyork, .newyorkcity, or the presumed .nyc, with the city, state, and “Internet Community” having more or less rights or power to claim each.

The meeting was convened and moderated by Connecting.nyc Inc.’s Thomas Lowenhaupt. Others attending were Seth Johnson, a New York based information quality specialist and policy advocate, Joly MacFie, V.P. Internet Society-NY, the day’s expert guest, Michael Palage, attorney and former member of the ICANN’s board of directors, and Robert Pollard, founder of Information Habitat: Where Information Lives, a United Nations NGO. 

The complexity of the situation was hinted at by the number of entities with a role in defining New York’s TLD usage and suitability: the City of New York, the State of New York, ICANN, IANA, and the U.S. Department of Commerce’s NTIA.

At meeting’s end Mike Palage noted that at the conclusion of the June 2010 ICANN meeting that approved the new TLD process, the rising comment was that its passage represented “the end of the beginning.” Indeed.

Joly MacFie captured and published a video of the event, and there’s a wiki page presenting the salient points. (Commons photo courtesy of Patti Shubitz.)

Learn more about our overall effort from our Wiki Home Page

Filed September 9th, 2011 under City Council, Neighborhoods, City-TLDs, NTIA, .berlin, .paris, ICANN

NYCwiki.0.JPGNew York, July 16, 2011 - One year ago today a collaborative effort between Wikimedia New York, the Internet Society’s New York Chapter, and Connecting.nyc Inc. made the NYCwiki.org available for public editing.

And what a year it has been. Of the city’s 354 neighborhoods 215 have been taken their first steps toward being dotNeighborhoods. Here’s the breakdown by borough:

NYCWiki +1 Year - Progress Report
  Neighborhoods in Borough
dotNeighborhood starts
% starts
Bronx  65  46  61%
Brooklyn  84  47
 55%
Manhattan  59 33  55%
Queens  84  76  90%
Staten Island
 62  54  93%

In total, 64% of the city’s neighborhoods have moved forward with Staten Island leading the way with 93% starts. Go Si.

But there’s plenty of work remaining even on the best of the starts. So find your neighborhood and enter what you know. If you want to organize a concerted wikiazation of your ‘hood, let us know and we’ll highlight it on the NYCwiki home page. Harlem is the current Neighborhood of the Month. 

Plans for year 2 include:

  • Running training sessions for those unfamiliar with wiki editing, with the first session at the Langston Hughes Library in East Elmhurst later this summer.
  • Reaching 100% neighborhood starts.
  • Developing plans for adding higher level decision-making and collaboration layers.

With the ICANN having approved a TLD application process, by this time next year we should have a better idea on how neighborhood domain names will be governed and allocated. The better we plan it on our dotNeighborhood pages and on the NYCwiki, the more likely we’ll see our neighborhoods transformed into enriched civic treasures.

We’d like to offer our sincerest appreciation to the Internet Society-NY for their efforts, especially its V.P. Joly MacFie, whose work in installing and maintaining the MediaWiki platform has been instrumental in its superb up-time and virtually spam free operation. And to Richard Knipel of Wikimedia-NY who has helped with training and imagining other ways to add important public content to the NYCwiki. And to the hundreds who have contributed information about their neighborhoods.

Learn more about our overall effort from our Wiki Home Page

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Jackson Hts., New York, June 30, 2011 - I split my out-of-office advocacy efforts for .nyc between civic and tech events. Generally I receive a positive reception at civic oriented meetings and a “why bother” at tech events. Last night it was an East Village Tech meetup at d.b.a., a beer garden at 41 1st Avenue. It was a loud space with about 10 picnic style tables with our group of perhaps 25 occupying three of them.

I went to test the salience of the “secrecy story” as a recruitment tool: that is, that inadequate transparency on .nyc’s development precludes sufficient public engagement and endangers the resource’s optimization. Or more viscerally, will residents become enraged upon learning that the .nyc TLD is being divvied up behind closed doors at City Hall?

The first fellow I spoke with was student working for a firm that had just made a bundle selling Tweet Deck, a Twitter add-on. His listened attentively but as I answered a question from another 20ish fellow next to me, moved to another table, either not having understood me or not interested. That second fellow worked for a tech advertising firm. He told me that he’d not entered a domain name in three years and doubted their value, (typical of those under 30). With the event being a geographic East Village tech meeting, I tried drawing upon his civic pride, “Wouldn’t you want to have a role in managing the EastVillage.nyc domain?” He responded with confidence that only corporations could guide the development of a successful digital product. I was about to mention our dotNeighborhood governance approach, the success of Wikipedia and open source when he asked the fellow across the table what he thought, presenting the secrecy aspect with cogency. That fellow responded that corporations are going to get what they want anyhow, so why bother to even try. My neighbor nodded his acquiescence, and so went the evening. 

On a more positive note, I conversed with someone frustrated with the banking system who wanted to create a collaborative financial guidance tool, perhaps a wiki. I thought this was a great idea and agreed to make a connection with the Wikimedia folks. And finally, d.b.a. had a great Brooklyn East India Pale Ale which made the evening a joy. (Ice Cream photo courtesy of Free Photo.)

Learn more about our overall effort from our Wiki Pages

NTIA-logo.0.JPGJackson Heights, New York, June 15, 2011 - The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) yesterday published a Further Notice of Inquiry (FNOI) concerning the process ICANN must follow in issuing new TLDs. The relevant paragraph for the .nyc TLD reads: 

Responsibility and Respect for Stakeholders — The Contractor shall, in collaboration with all relevant stakeholders for this function, develop a process for documenting the source of the policies and procedures and how it has applied the relevant policies and procedures, such as RFC 1591, to process requests associated with TLDs. In addition, the Contractor shall act in accordance with the relevant national laws of the jurisdiction which the TLD registry serves. For delegation requests for new generic TLDS (gTLDs), the Contractor shall include documentation to demonstrate how the proposed string has received consensus support from relevant stakeholders [highlights ours] and is supported by the global public interest.

The NTIA is accepting comments on the FNOI until July 29, with the full FNOI and the process and address for submitting comments available here.

Our initial thoughts are that it would be good to further define “relevant stakeholders.” And we will be submitting comments to NTIA by July 29 to add our support for the direction they are headed and to suggest some clarity.

But let’s presume for the moment that the final Statement of Work arising from this NTIA review goes through pretty mush as is. Several questions arise.

Who are the “relevant stakeholders” for the .nyc TLD? Internet users? Small businesses using websites? Small businesses planning to use websites? Residents? Residents using the Internet? Registered voters? Tourists? Former residents? Those who love and wish they lived in New York? The city’s big businesses? Businesses selling products in NYC and with a permanent presence? Big businesses selling products in NYC but without a presence? Wall Street? Civic groups? Community Boards? The city of New York? The city council? The Comptroller? The Public Advocate? The office of the mayor? The governor? The state legislature? The city university? Our private universities? Religious institutions? Charities? The homeless? School children? Future generations? And what of the region: do those living a stone’s throw across the Hudson and working in the city have a say? What about those living across the Hudson or in our reservoir supply region, not working in the city, but strongly influenced by city policies, should they have a say? What about the prospective contractors who will operate the computers that maintain the database of .nyc names, and the prospective retailers of these names? Our experience from attending hundreds or meetings and discussing .nyc with thousands of people over the past 10 years is that all of these have an interest in the development of the .nyc TLD and therefore have a stake in its development and continuation.

This raises another question: Should each group have equal weight in determining the consensus policy? Obviously resident views should have more weight than tourist or wannabe views, but coming up with a fair weighting process will be challenging. The experience of the commons community could be of great assistance here. And the multi-stakeholder model that governs the ICANN and the IGF provide other relevant experience.

Next: Who should determine the relevant .nyc TLD stakeholders and coordinate a review and consensus development? Our vote is the Internet Society, in consultation with the mayor and city council. Yesterday’s INET sponsored by the Internet Society and ISOC-NY attracted the top Federal and City government IT policy leaders, a father of the Internet, Vint Cerf, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the web, and 250 others. It was masterfully organized, lived streamed globally, and demonstrated that ISOC knows the issues and has the wherewithal to undertake such a massive review. (Disclosure: our founder is a member of the ISOC-NY’s board of directors.)

Finally, how long will this review take and how is this convening of stakeholders to be financed? Deciding on the review organization(s) and structure, identifying members, securing a budget, preliminary research, on and off line public hearings, report preparation and distribution requires about two years. But no one’s going to snatch .nyc from the New York Community, so the key is to get this right. It’s a matter of careful preparation so that when the application for .nyc reaches ICANN, it details that a thoughtful evaluation process took place, leading to a consensus by all stakeholders. The Internet Society should provide a start up budget for the local chapter. ICANN should view this as model making for city-TLDs, make a financial contribution and assign staff to coordinate with its ongoing activities. The city should make a contribution, as should a foundation with an interest in New York City, perhaps the Sloan or Rockefeller Foundations. Each of the other organized stakeholder groups should kick in something, and a Kickstart should be initiated to facilitate public participation and civic awareness.

Learn more about our overall effort from our Wiki Pages

old-bicycle.jpgJackson Heights, New York, April 30, 2011 - We’re encouraging all neighborhood lovers to participate in our Mapping the Hood biking event on Saturday, May 21, 8 AM to 1 PM. See details.

Mapping the Hood was conceived as a healthful and fun mapping initiative to define and empower New York City’s neighborhoods. To participate, Bikers will activate the My Tracks app on their Android phones, slip the phone in their backpack, circumnavigate their neighborhood (perhaps adding some ID pins of landmarks), them email the My Tracks file to us. (Some other phone and GPS map files are acceptable, see the wiki for details.)

The maps will initially be displayed on NYCwiki.org, our dotNeighborhoods development site. Later, with the activation of the .nyc TLD, they will be used in support of the city’s neighborhoods in sites such as Astoria.nyc, BrooklynHeights.nyc, Chelsea.nyc, Douglaston.nyc, Egbertville, Flatbush.nyc, GreenwichVillage.nyc, HighBridge.nyc…

Bikers are to email their map files to maps@connectingnyc.org and to tweet their accomplishment to @MappingTheHood. You might also invite others and comment on your desired ‘hood on the the Mapping the Hood Facebook page.

For the latest news and details, see our Mapping the Hood wiki page.

Mapping the Hood is part of Transportation Alternatives’ 2011 Bikemonth. See our announcement there as well as other great riding opportunities.

Learn more about our overall effort from our Wiki Pages

Filed April 29th, 2011 under Neighborhoods, games, GIS, Civics, Volunteers
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