dotNYC-CB-3-Presentation-1-20-11-Tom-Lowenhaupt.jpgEast Elmhurst, New York, January 21, 2011 - Connecting.nyc Inc.’s director Tom Lowenhaupt last night provided a progress report to Queens Community Board 3 on its Internet Empowerment Resolution. He touched on highlights from the ten years since the Board adopted the Resolution on April 19, 2001: the early progress, the 9/11 down years, the formation of the not-for-profit he leads, ICANN’s adoption of a New TLD Policy that included cities, and city government’s partial acceptance of the board’s recommendation for .nyc’s operation as a public interest resource.

Mr. Lowenhaupt explained that his organization’s focus today is on gaining the city administration’s full support for treating the .nyc TLD as the city’s digital infrastructure, and for its development in the public interest. To highlight the benefits from this approach, his organization recently entered into a collaboration with Wikimedia-NY and the Internet Society-NY on a NYCwiki.org website that will highlight the possibilities by developing the neighborhoods name-set. “By demonstrating the benefits of this one name-set we expect the full utility of our approach will become apparent” he stated. 

The NYCwiki.org site’s goal is the creation of a neighborhood information resource through crowdsourcing, wherein residents contribute their memories and hopes for their neighborhoods to a Wikipedia-like site. Later, when the .nyc TLD becomes active, this information will be moved to its permanent website: Corona.nyc, EastElmhurst.nyc, and JacksonHeights.nyc. Calling it a “once in a lifetime opportunity,” he concluded the update stating that “together with communication, outreach, decision-making, and organization layers, these sites offer the promise of providing good local communications to our neighborhoods for the first time ever.” 

After the update Mr. Lowenhaupt introduced Richard Knipel, President of Wikimedia-NY, the local affiliate of the Wikimedia Foundation, the people that bring us Wikipedia. Richard invited experienced wiki editors to begin updating their local neighborhood sites now - see Corona, East Elmhurst, and Jackson Heights - and invited those desiring training to sign up for free NYCwiki.org page editing sessions to be held at the Langston Hughes Library beginning in February. To sign up for training sessions, email info@connectingnyc.org.

Pictured are Tom Lowenhaupt (standing left) and Richard Knipel, with Board Chair Grace Lawrence seated. (Photo by Eugene Atkins.)

Learn more about our overall effort from our Wiki Pages

news-sports-weather-nyc-c.jpgJackson Hts., New York, January 1, 2011 - This first post of 2011 proposes a process for distributing key .nyc names such as news.nyc, weather.nyc, and sports.nyc. But for insight into the experience behind the suggested process, let me tell a story about how a neighborhood school got built.

In June 1992 I was part of a civic campaign advocating that a new school be built in our neighborhood. There was a clear path to success: our schools were massively overcrowded, a local teacher cohort had developed an innovative curriculum for a new school, and best of all, the city had created a fund for new innovative schools.

But the neighborhood was completely built, without a single vacant parcel of land. And when the teacher cohort began looking outside the neighborhood for a school venue, parents became frantic. Desperate, local parents focused on a seemingly underutilized department store in the center of the neighborhood’s commercial strip. But soon after advancing the venue we learned that the owner had refused an offer from the Board of Education.

To advance our cause, a group of parents met with the building owner to inform him of the many benefits the school would provide for both he and the neighborhood and to ask his support. We detailed the advantages of improved education, how it would increase the value of his nearby properties, and even how we’d advocate having the school named in his honor. But after listening politely Carlo became agitated, and after a deep breadth told us how the Board of Education had the temerity to offer him a measly $6 a square foot for his prime space. He was obviously insulted by the offer and stated that he would “not take a nickel less than $9.”

Thereafter we rallied the parents, pressured our elected representatives, and generally raised cane demanding that the city up its offer, condemn the property, do whatever it took to acquire the site. With the neighborhood in the dark as to the occasionally rumored “privileged negotiation,” a poisoned situation arose that had the neighborhood, in effect, working on behalf of the landlord, to the detriment of our school budget.

After a year an a half of rabble rousing the deal was sealed - for $21 a square foot! And two years later the Renaissance School opened to spectacular results. Today we have a wonderful school and a very happy landlord.

There are lessons from this experience that can be applied to the allocation of Primary Intuitive Names such as news.nyc, weather.nyc, and sports.nyc. Before detailing them, let me present a few axioms about them: 

  • Primary Intuitive Names have no obvious owner. Everyone would like to own them, but there are no actionable links for anyone. Perhaps they might be considered part of a common pool.
  • Primary Intuitive Names  are vital to the success of the .nyc TLD. They are the TLDs book covers, domain names people will visit first for a sample or preview. (Standard Portal Names and Navigation Names are also vital resources, but subjects for later posts.)
  • Primary Intuitive Names must be operational and provide a slick and effective information backbone from day one (Shift Day). If those entering a domain name such as news.nyc receive an advert or stale news, they will develop a negative view of the entire .nyc TLD.

Given these, how are we to allocate Primary Intuitive Names?

We can’t risk a simplistic high bid auction that might enable a speculator to acquire the name for resale a few years hence. Or put it into the hands of someone seeking to protect a competitive domain. And given the prospect that, thoughtfully developed, several Primary Intuitive Names can fund the entire .nyc TLD’s start-up budget and significant public education and access efforts, we must make the most of them. 

    So here’s a New Year’s proposal based on that Renaissance School experience. Let’s rouse the public, pressure our elected representatives, and raise cane to demand that we1  create a competitive field that maximizes advantage from these public resources through this four step project: 

      1. Create an open and transparent process for guiding the identification and distribution of the Primary Intuitive Names.
      2. Begin an awareness campaign providing all those interested in developing these names with the opportunity to get their eggs in a row, initially via communication through relevant trade press. Consider this post an initial step.
      3. Develop minimum standards about content requirements within each Primary Intuitive Name with crowdsourced input used to reward excellence of concept.
      4. Advocate for a Shift Day that begins only when the Primary Intuitive Names are fully functional. 

          How much “prosperity” might be raised from using our Renaissance experience to up the value of the Primary names? More than enough to finance the .nyc TLD’s planning and start-up, and to advance local control of this public interest resource. But its real potency lies in its ability to empower us all, providing for the all important Happy and Healthy referred to at top. But I’ve gone on too long here and will address these soon in a recommendation on ways we might use the initial and continuing .nyc TLD revenue streams. 

          Learn more about the Primary Intuitive Names and our Domain Name Allocation Plan which deals with all .nyc names. (Commons photo courtesy of Stock Photo.)

          Learn more about our overall effort from our Wiki Pages

          1. By “we” I refer to the residents and organizations of New York City.^

          ­The-Prize-nyc-2010b.jpgConey Island, ­July 25, 2010 - ­­­­­The 2010 Hippodamus of Miletus Prize.nyc has been awarded to Ethan Jucovy, manager of the CoActivate platform that powers our wiki and blog. CoActivate is a not-for-profit venture that views its platform as a force for social activism.

          The Prize .nyc, named after the father of planning Hippodamus of Miletus, is given annually to the person or organization that has contributed most to the concept or technology that facilitated the .nyc TLD’s advancement over the past year.

          Connecting.nyc Inc.’s wiki and blog run on the open-source CoActivate software originally developed by The Open Planning Project, now OpenPlans. Ethan worked on CoActivate for several years while at OpenPlans. In May 2010 OpenPlans transferred management control of CoActivate to Ethan. Whether your group is mobilizing voters, planning a protest, or growing a garden, CoActivate can help you become more effective. CoActivate is about greasing the wheels of democracy.

          The photo above shows the Prize.nyc award dinner at the original Nathans in Coney Island. Shown are Ethan Jucovy, honored guest Jackie Arasi, and Connecting.nyc Inc.’s founding director Tom Lowenhaupt. The consensus among the celebrants was that the hot dogs were best, followed by a close tie by the fries and beer.

          See the Prize.nyc for previous winners and for the process to submit a nomination for Prize.nyc 2011.(Photo by Patti Lowenhaupt)

          Learn more about our overall effort from our Wiki Home Page

          ­

          Filed August 16th, 2010 under Prize .nyc, Innovation, Partner, Civics

          My-Issue-Communities-Map-2010.JPGNew York, January 31, 2010 - Last year 1,200 applications were submitted to the Knight Foundation’s News Challenge grant and we were one of 50 finalists. They funded 9 applications, most regrettably, not ours.

          This year we submitted an application entitled Issue-Communities and are delighted to announce that we have been selected to enter round two. Our proposal promises to empower residents to create “Issue-Communities” reflecting areas of interest or concern. User generated web maps will enable the creation of self selected and narrowly focused Issue-Communities that will, ipso facto, engage their creators in the identification and resolution of local issues.

          This year’s application differs from 2009’s in that it requires those claiming their projects will be ongoing to explain the business model. We proposed offering a publishing partner with exclusive access to Issue-Community activities for  a limited period in exchange for operating assistance. Let us know what you think of this.

          Our proposal can currently be found on the Knight Foundation’s site. There you can comment on our proposal and give it a rating (we suggest giving 5 stars unless you can hack the site and give 6 or more).

          For the longer term, we’ve also created a wiki page where our application can be found, and where we will provide updates on our News Challenge grant application.

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

          Copenhagen-Climate-Conference-Logo.JPGNew York, December 8, 2009 - As President Obama packs his bags for the trip to Copenhagen and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, we’re taking the occasion to draw attention to one of the more important names that will arrive with the activation of the .nyc TLD - sustainable.nyc.

          Take a look at our wiki page for this name and you’ll see that it, and its name cloud, can have a forceful identity and organizing impact on this vital issue. In a time when climate will gather an ever increasing share of our attention, it seems reasonable to set aside a name-set supportive of a sustainable city, around which we can exchange ideas and organize to improve our climate.

          While we’re privileged to have Dr. Frans C. Verhagan on our Resident Advisory Network, providing insight guidance into these issues, the Toward a Sustainable City wiki page, and a mechanism for development and oversight of the sustainable.nyc name-set, have yet to be created. So we invite those who wish they could be in Copenhagen today to join here and contribute their thoughts to ways we might utilize the sustainable.nyc name-set in support of an improved climate. (Logo of Copenhagen host committee.) P.S. See Cap & Trade.

          Learn about .nyc on our wiki pages.

          Filed December 8th, 2009 under Innovation, Partner, Sustainable Cities, Governance

          Hunter-College.JPGNew York, October 20, 2009 - When Corona.nyc, JacksonHeights.nyc, Melrose.nyc, ParkSlope.nyc,  SoHo.nyc, Tribeca.nyc and 300 other neighborhood names become available upon the activation of the .nyc TLD, how will traditional civic practices be affected? What impact will their activation have on existing digital communication channels? How can we develop policies that assure that these names are used to serve resident needs? What local content should be made available to each dotNeighborhood? What technology should deliver it? Who should publish them? What’s the agreement that assures accountability?

          We began focusing on these and related questions on our dotNeighborhood pages earlier this year and have sponsored several public meetings to generate interest and thought on the possibilities.

          To further the knowledge base on dotNeighborhoods, Connecting.nyc Inc. recently contracted with the Urban Development Workshop at Hunter College of the City University of New York. Under the able eye of Prof. Jill Simone Gross, Department of Urban Affairs and Planning, a research team of Jennifer Dong, Barry Kogan, Matt Leiderman, and Melanie Reyes will detail the digital resources that currently exist within several identified neighborhoods and present the potential benefits that .nyc might offer. Entitled “A Case Study - Neighborhoods in a Digital Era” the report will be completed by year’s end.

          Filed October 21st, 2009 under Partner, Neighborhoods, City-TLDs, GIS, Education, Civics, Governance

          accountability.JPGJackson Hts., New York, June 1, 2009 - I attended the 59th Sidney Hillman Foundation awards ceremony honoring journalists, writers, and public figures whose work fosters social and economic justice last Wednesday. It was a most exhilarating evening, with the recipients having made significant contributions to our awareness of the world around us.

          Reflecting the times, Bruce Raynor, president of the Hillman Foundation and the evening’s moderator, at one point bemoaned the seeming demise of our nation’s daily newspapers and asked “How will those communities exist without the ongoing contributions of those fine journalists?”

          Living with about 100,000 other residents in the Jackson Heights neighborhood of New York City, where we’ve never known the luxury of a daily newspaper (nor a TV or radio station) focused on our problems and the opportunities before us, I can provide at least a partial answer to Mr. Raynor:

          • All too often they’ll have to wait for a disaster to occur before anyone pays attention to a local problem.
          • Local communication will be very slow and incomplete, with word of mouth assuming a more important role.
          • Community memory will be short, incomplete, and inaccurate.
          • Election processes will be ineffective as they’ll have few mechanisms for reporting on activities, issues, and assessing accountability. 
          • Faith in government and the governance processes will diminish as will the quality of life.

          With the rise of the Net and the broad demise of the traditional newspaper industry, it’s unlikely we’ll ever see a printed daily in Jackson Heights or in any of our city’s other neighborhoods. Perhaps there’s the germ of a new media in our  dotNeighborhoods and Issue-Communities efforts that might enable useful citizen reporting and accountability mechanisms. But for the moment, sans a new business model, the ability of either to conjure up quality journalism remains elusive.

          However, Mr. Raynor did perhaps provide one part of the answer when he announced the Sidneys “a new monthly award for an outstanding piece of socially-conscious journalism from a newspaper, magazine, web site, or any broadcast outlet. The award citation will come with $500 and a bottle of union-made wine.”

          We’ll be scheduling another meeting on dotNeighborhoods later this month where this issue will be on the agenda. (Commons photo courtesy johncarney.) 

          Link to Connecting.nyc Inc.’s wiki pages.

          ­RFI.JPGNew York City, April 27, 2009 - The city’s Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications (DoITT) has issued a Request for Information (RFI) in preparation for the acquisition of the .nyc TLD (like .com and .org but just for New York City). We applaud this outreach effort and request that all members of Connecting.nyc’s community join us in assembling a comprehensive body of information to assist the city with this important policy development effort.

          Over the next weeks we will gather and organize information that might aide the city’s decision making process. (Due date May 27th.) With our public interest perspective, decade-long involvement with .nyc, and the collaboration of our community, we expect that our submission will assist the city in better understanding the multitude of ways .nyc can help create a more prosperous and livable city.

          We will augment our submission by including information presented on a collaborative wiki we’ve created, see RFI Workspace. The Workspace links to the abundance of information on Connecting.nyc Inc.’s wiki, and enables our community to help create an imaginative and innovative assemblage of ideas for the city’s consideration. We are particularly interested in ways the TLD might facilitate security and privacy. As well, we’d like to hear how .nyc can help connect New York City’s civic, social, and business communities using networking tools.

          Going forward, we expect DoITT to review the various RFI submissions and, in collaboration with city agencies, business & civic organizations, and residents, to develop a road map leading to .nyc’s acquisition, development, operation, and oversight. (Image elements courtesy Google Maps.)

          Learn more about our RFI Collaboration

          Link to Connecting.nyc Inc.’s wiki pages.

          ­­­New York, January 24, 2009 - How will the arrival of the .nyc TLD change civic communication and the governance structure in New York City? Since 1975 our official “divisioning” has been steady: 1 city, 5 boroughs, 51 council districts, and 59 community districts. To date, the Net has not had an impact. Will it? If so, how and when?

          With Connecting.nyc Inc.’s .nyc initiative having evolved from Queens Community Board 3’s 2001 Internet Empowerment Resolution, thinking about the TLD’s role and impact on civic affairs city-by-numbers.0.JPGhas been a constant. Over the past few months, as the probability of the TLDs arrival has grown larger, we’ve begun to focus on the .nyc TLD’s impact on this now 35 year old structure.

          Neighborhood domain names have always been seen as valuable civic resources, enabling those amorphous entities to better provide local identify, communication, and broker the effective sharing of local responsibilities and opportunities. We recently created a Traditional Neighborhood Names page to discuss the possibilities and ways we might allocate names such as astoria.nyc, bushwick.nyc, and greenwich-village.nyc, and how we might assure their operation in the interest of local residents.

          In early November we submitted an application to the Knight Foundation outlining an entirely new civic structure, something we called Issue-Communities. Using mapping software and social networking tools, Issue-Communities will empower city residents to create narrow communities of interest - “Issue-Communities” - reflecting their concerns. These Issue-Communities can address longstanding local communications deficits and serve as organizing force to focus local concerns.

          Recently we began seeing overlaps and parallels in the Traditional Neighborhoods and Issue-Communities projects, and today created a wiki page for thinking through the development of such New Civic Governance Layers. Join us.

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

          MIT-Center-for-Future-Civic-Media.JPG­­New York, November 21, 2008 - MIT’s Center for Future Civic Media has selected Connecting.nyc Inc.’s “Campaign for .nyc” as a community partner project.

          The Center for Future Media is a collaboration of the Media Lab and Comparative Media Studies. The Center defines civic media as “any form of communication that strengthens the social bonds within a community or creates a strong sense of civic engagement among its residents. Civic media goes beyond news gathering and reporting.”

          We’re delighted to have this association with the Center. It promises to be another site where people can learn about our effort and make suggestions about .nyc’s role in creating a more livable city. And we’ll visit the Center often to learn from the civic media developments by the Center and our fellow partners. Visit us at the Center.

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

          Filed November 25th, 2008 under MIT, Partner, Civics, Education

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