search.JPGJackson Heights, New York, April 12, 2014 - Vital to the operation of a livable city are its public spaces: parks, plazas, streets, schools, libraries, etc. Over the centuries we’ve established standards for such spaces, including where they are best located and how they are used and governed. 

Today we’re faced with identifying public spaces within the .nyc TLD. According to .nyc’s Launch Program, we’ve only until 11 AM on August 4th to identify and set aside our digital public spaces. At that moment the Landrush period begins and within a few minutes all names of public spaces that have not been set aside will be purchased for private purposes. Thereafter their public use will be through condemnation and eviction procedures.

Why is this important? Some background will help.

38 cities applied for their TLDs in 2012, including 4 from the U.S. - New York, Boston, Miami and Vegas. In 2018, when the next window of opportunity to acquire a city-TLD will arise, we expect several hundred to apply for the capacity to develop this digital infrastructure. 

New York City has been a leader is development this resource. And just last month, after a 13 year gestation, it was delegated the .nyc TLD by ICANN a global licensing entity. The city is now in the process of deciding who gets what name for what purpose and when. (See http://nic.nyc for highlights on .nyc’s rollout or Launch Policies for a detailed look.)

One of the challenges the city faces is looking over the horizon and discerning digital spaces (domain names) that should be reserved for public use. There’s little guidance on this as traditional TLDs (think .com and .org) don’t have public spaces.

The last time the city faced such a challenge was in the early 1800’s when it set about carving up Manhattan into real estate parcels. What became known as “The Commissioners’ Plan of 1811″ created our street grid that has served our city well. But one of the “over the horizon” needs we missed back then was parks. And in the 1840s, when the need for public recreation spaces became apparent, the city was forced to evict several thousand people who were living in what is now Central Park. (According to Wikipedia “The earliest purpose built public park, although financed privately, was Princes Park in the Liverpool suburb of Toxteth” in 1842. So prior to that humanity lived in a world without public parks!)

Today’s challenge is identifying public spaces within the .nyc TLD, be they for public assembly, discourse, recreation, or some new “digital” purpose. Hopefully we’ll avoid the need to resort to eviction to create a more livable city.

In addition to acquiring the digital property, one of the advantages that will arise from this exercise is the development of a descriptive vocabulary. So today, if I visit any U.S. city and feel the need for a moment of restful meditation, I can ask anyone “Where’s the nearest park?” with my need being easily understood.

So my question dear reader is, What needs and opportunities are there within a city, be it the digital or traditional, that a city-TLD can address? What are these public spaces called? And how are they funded, governed, and operated? This last question need not be answered immediately - we only figured out how to properly fund Central Park in the 1980, 140 years after setting it aside. 

So… what are our digital public spaces?

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

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Jackson Hts., New York, December 8, 2013 - I recently met with a fellow looking to take his talents in a new direction who inquired about opportunities presented by the .nyc TLD. I blabbered for a bit and then, with the time allotted for our meeting running out, I promised to give the question some thought and do a post. Here goes. (Expect additions to this list over time.)

  • Trust For Neighborhood Names - As of last count the city has 355 neighborhoods. Someone needs to start a Trust for Neighborhood Names to oversee the allocation, development, and oversight of the neighborhood domain names, e.g., Harlem.nyc. See dotNeighborhoods for more on this.
  • Regional Consolidation - From an outpost to a village to a city to 5 boroughs, New York has been growing for over 400 years. The TLD provides the opportunity for a second regional consolidation. We need a giant to lead this effort. See here.
  • Data Query Log -  Every request to be connected to a .nyc website results in a notation in a Data Query Log, part of the Internet’s Domain Name System or DNS. These log entries provide raw data for creating a “twitteresque” pulse of the city. Someone needs to make this widely available resource. See more here.
  • Chief Trust Officer - Success with .nyc will involve creating a City of Trust, a place where people locally and globally will feel confident that the .nyc sites they are visiting are trustworthy, respectful of their privacy, and that should something go wrong, there’s recourse. The city needs to appoint a Chief Trust Officer to align the city’s government, civic sector, and residents to achieve a concerted state of awareness and responsiveness. See Chief Trust Officer.      
  • Primary Names - Sports.nyc, news.nyc, weather.nyc, tours.nyc, hotels.nyc, and a few dozen other names will provide opportunities to create significant city resources, and make a decent living in the process.
  • Local Registrars - There’s a need for local name sellers, or registrars, that help residents and organizations learn how to best use .nyc domain names. These registrars might focus on direct sale of names, or as agents that assist web developers, law and accounting firms with name sales. 
  • The Voter Project -  This involves providing every registered voter with a web page that connects them to their neighborhood and the political process. It allows them to feel the pulse of the city and to vote (express an opinion) on the issues before their legislative bodies. See voter.nyc.

All of these opportunities will not necessarily arise. But if you focus on one, develop a plan, and encourage city hall to do its part, success might follow. (P.S. Helping residents transform these possibilities into reality is a key reason for our existence, so don’t hesitate to ask for our assistance.)

This list is by no means comprehensive. Peruse our wiki and blog for others and keep watching as we detail the development of our TLD. Our thanks to Wiki Commons for the Low Hanging Fruit graphic.

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

Filed December 7th, 2013 under Neighborhoods, social network, Domain Names, Education

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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

UK-online-neighbourhood-study-2010.jpgJackson Hts., New York, December 19, 2010 - The London based Networked Neighbourhoods Group today published its long awaited Online Neighbourhood Networks Study. The research, by Hugh Flouch and Kevin Harris, provides insight into the impact neighborhood networks have had in 3 UK towns. The report concluded that they have:

  • stimulated social capital and strengthened cohesion
  • contributed to citizen empowerment and engagement, and
  • build citizens’ capacity and willingness to work alongside public services. 

While much of the information is supportive of neighborhood networks, one finding screams for additional attention:

“Data from Hitwise Experian suggests that affluent people, with high educational attainment, are over-represented in the population that uses the websites. This appears to be confirmed in the socio-demographic profile of our survey respondents.”

In other words, the digital divide continues. The Study focuses our attention on the need for education, training, and access projects to broaden awareness and use of these new local governance tools as they are introduced at the neighborhood level. Follow our response to this research on our Education Programs page.

The Online Neighbourhood Networks Study is available at http://networkedneighbourhoods.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/Online-Nhood-Networks-4-page-summary.pdf.

Learn more about our overall effort from our Wiki Pages

NYCwiki.0.JPG New York, July 16, 2010 - The collaboration between Wikimedia New York, the Internet Society’s New York Chapter, and Connecting.nyc Inc. has completed the basic planning to test the utility of wiki technology for neighborhood names - Astoria.nyc, BrooklynHeights.nyc, Chelsea.nyc GreenwichVillage.nyc, etc.

After research and experimentation we concluded that the Mediawiki software that provides the foundation for Wikipedia and other Wikimedia Foundation projects, would satisfy our needs for the pilot project. The Internet Society’s Joly MacFie has graciously offered to oversee the installation, hosting, and operation of the software.

Connecting.nyc Inc.’s founder arranged to have Jackson Heights designated the first Neighborhood of the Week agreeing to help drive some of his neighbors to the Jackson Heights section of the NYCwiki as we experiment with content, design, moderation, and other issues. In a few weeks, with some early content on the site,  Wikimedia will sponsor an education session in Jackson Heights for those unfamiliar with editing a wiki.

The next Neighborhood of the Week will be Harlem.

Learn more about our overall effort from our Wiki Home Page

­toilet-with-phone-and-bird.JPGNew York, February 22­, 2010 - We submitted a somewhat indelicate proposal to the Minds in the Gutter competition on February 15, 2010. The competition was predicated on the following statement:

“Every time it rains in New York City, our combined sewer system gobbles up stormwater running off all hard surfaces - roadways, sidewalks, rooftops and parking lots - into the same network of pipes that carry our sewage. This system quickly reaches capacity, and the stormwater and sewage overflow into local waterways on the order of 27 billion gallons per year. This limits how New Yorkers can safely access the waterfront, and impairs our estuary ecosystem.”

While the competition was looking for solutions to the sewerage overflow problem from the field of civil engineering (e.g., enabling rain water to seep into the gutter and become groundwater), we saw an opportunity to point out how computer engineering could address the problem. Our solution combined a careful Internet of Things development of the toilets.nyc domain name with civic crowdsourcing. With our test project focused on cleaning Flushing Bay, we entitled our proposal The Flushing Community, see it here.

Being non-compliant with a strict reading of the guidelines, we’re hoping for an “outsider” or “best effort” award from S.W.I.M. judges. (Commons images courtesy of Patti Lowenhaupt and S.W.I.M.)

Learn more about our overall effort from our Wiki Home Page.

neighborhood.JPGNew York, February 21, 2010 - We had our fourth meeting on dotNeighborhoods, gathering at the Neighborhood Preservation Center on January 26. The meeting report and some photos of the attendees are now available.

The meeting began with a project overview from Connecting.nyc Inc.’s (CnI) executive director, followed by a report from the Hunter College Urban Affairs Workshop on their “Case Study: Neighborhoods in a Digital Era.” Their research focused on three areas: Identity, Content, and Governance. Read Hunter’s Executive Summary and download the full document details from here.

Discussion followed with many suggestions and opinions expressed. As the meeting neared its conclusion, it was noted that while city hall has seen the wisdom of reserving the neighborhood domain names, it was not clear, should the current direction prevail, what it will take to have them released and developed in the public interest.

At the previous meeting it was suggested that an independent Ad Hoc group be formed to facilitate the dotNeighborhood’s development. Thomas Lowenhaupt, CnI executive director, reported that he’d had discussions about the formation of an independent organization and that legal assistance was available. He suggested that a statement of principles regarding the role and responsibilities of the dotNeighborhoods be drafted, refined, and endorsed by supporters via an Ad Hoc dotNeighborhood Trust. And that this statement of principles be refined and passed on to the City Council and Mayor. All agreed.

Following the meeting a draft “dotNeighborhoods Proclamation” was published on CnI’s wiki. With this post we invite public comment on that draft document. After wide circulation, comments, and refinement it is expected that an Ad Hoc dotNeighborhood Trust will endorse and present the Proclamation to our elected representatives for their thoughts, consideration, and assistance with developing the dotNeighborhoods.

Learn more about this initiative from the dotNeighborhoods wiki pages. (Commons image courtesy of sporkwrapper.)

Learn more about our overall effort from our Wiki Home Page.

­­­google-in-parade.JPGNew York, December 29, 2009 - Adam Raff’s recent  New York Times Op-Ed Search, But You May Not Find paralleled an issue we have been concerned about for some time - search transparency. While Adam focused on the damage from corporate shenanigans, our concerns have centered more on the impact the Google search engine’s lack of transparency might have on civic affairs. For example, we’re likely to see Google confronting city zoning regula­tions for a variance to build inspirational office space for its expanding enterprises: How would Google rank the activities of organizations leading the opposition? Would individual opponents be able to locate the opposition? Or would the opposition be custom coded to screen land on page 13? Transparency = trust.

And imagine if Google “winner$” begin running for public office, how are we to trust its opaque search algorithm during the rough and tumble of an election campaign? Then we’d clearly see the relationship between link and ballot voting.

Transparent search - a far easier metric than Raff’s search neutrality - is vital to our city’s having level commercial and civic playing fields. We’re looking for resources that foster the creation and assessment of transparent search engines for the .nyc TLD. Follow developments on this via our Transparent Search wiki page. ­ ­(Commons photo courtesy of http://aiblsuki.blog122.fc2.com/blog-entry-95.html.)

Learn about .nyc on our 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 28­, 2009 - ­Look for us. We’re coming to your neighborhood.  My experience at the Town Hall meeting sponsored by Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer was very positive and a success for Connectingnyc.org.  Borough President Stringer is very interested in how our technology firms are working to define and solve some of the problems in our neighborhoods.  He told me to email him because he works for us.  And we in turn look forward to working with this great city, NYC.

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

Filed January 29th, 2009 under social network, GIS, Governance, City Agency
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