• dotNeighborhoods - January 26 2010 Meeting Report

last modified October 31, 2010 by tomlowenhaupt

The report from our January 26, 2010 meeting on dotNeighborhoods and related developments are ­presented here.


dotNeighborhoods Proclamation


­­New York City’s neighborhoods are latent civic resources. Every New Yorker can name the neighborhood in which they live and describe some of its features. But without good local communication channels, neighborhoods remain little more than identity statements and factors in housing costs.

The arrival of the .nyc Top Level Domain can change that by creating a digital grid of informed and connected neighborhoods with names like Astoria.nyc, BrooklynHeights.nyc, Chelsea.nyc, Dumbo.nyc, EastVillage.nyc, Flushing.nyc, etc.

We can make these "dotNeighborhoods" the center of local civic affairs by empowering them with advanced information and communication technologies. Transformed, these embryonic entities can support the formation of robust neighborhoods that provide the basis for a stronger New York City.

The City Planning Commission publishes a list of 305 neighborhoods on its website. The Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications (DoITT) identified these names as resources to be set aside in an October 5, 2009 Request for Proposals. We support this action and urge the following steps be taken to enable their fruitful development.

  • A Trust for dotNeighborhoods should be created as a not-for-profit corporation.
  • That the Trust have representatives of the city's social and economic diversity on its governance body.
  • That the Trust dedicate itself to the development digital resources that support neighborhoods with effective communication, engagement, organizing, and development tools.
  • That the Trust consult with the City Council, the City Planning Commission,  Community Boards, and the public and prepare a comprehensive listing of all extant neighborhoods.
  • That these neighborhood names be reserved for their respective dotNeighborhoods.
  • That the Trust establish standards for local entities that are to be granted oversight of their dotNeighborhood domain names.
  • That content standards be set that guide and set a minimum for communication and information needs of the neighborhoods they serve.
  • That technology standards be set for these dotNeighborhoods that assures information sharing between neighborhoods and the broader Internet community.
  • That dotNeighborhood names be issued to responsible governance entities agreeing to oversee their operation as local information and communication resources according to standards established by a dotNeighborhood Trust.
  • That the Trust establish accountability standards to assure compliance with agreed upon content and technology standards.
  • That the Trust assures the viability of dotNeighborhood websites through the creation of a city-wide revenue sharing mechanism.  

­Like Fish Discovering Water

Too little attention has gone into defining the features and benefits of local communication and community. One reason for the paucity of detail on the benefits of the local is brought to mind by this Q&A:  "Who discovered water?  No one knows but we know it wasn't a fish."

Jim Diers' book Neighbor Power began exploring and detailing the role of the local back in 2004. The below list started with Jim's book and was added to by Steven Clift, an old friend  of e-democracy.org fame. Let's add to the list.

  • Crime prevention
  • Emergency preparedness
  • Block parties
  • Skills exchanges
  • Share tools, pickup truck, camping equipment, etc.
  • Bulk buying
  • Issue and policy discussions
  • Support for latchkey kids
  • Support for housebound seniors
  • Support for one another
  • Rideshares
  • Create community garden on vacant lot or someone’s yard
  • Create pocket park on vacant lot or someone’s yard
  • Install benches, picnic tables or other community furniture in front yards
  • Improve/maintain common spaces: alley, median, park traffic circle, etc.
  • Paint mural in intersection
  • Plant street trees
  • Provide base for neighborhood association
  • Slow traffic with signs/art
  • Create placards for doorway of each home representing that family
  • Create website for block
  • Create a manifesto of block values and commitments to one another
  • Create a directory of available expertise (recycling, technology, etc)
  • Create a green block in which each household commits to reducing carbon footprint
  • Conduct a talent show
  • Celebrate Good Neighbor Day by recognizing good deeds
  • Outdoor movie night
  • Kids activities
  • Parent networks to facilitate baby sitting and care
  • Senior watch
  • Buy local, save fuel

























 dotNeighborhoods Initiative - Meeting #3

Neighborhood Preservation Center, 232 E. 11th Street

January 26, 2010, 6:30 – 8:30 PM

Meeting Report

The meeting began with thanks being offered to the Neighborhood Preservation Center for making its most pleasant facility available. Other community organization wishing to use the facility should contact Felicia Mayro, at neighborhoodpreservationcenter.org. Thomas Lowenhaupt then welcomed all to this third meeting on the dotNeighborhoods Initiative. The attendees then introduced themselves:

Name                       Neighborhoods               Affiliation / Role

Aline Fader                         Bushwick                      Pratt Institute / Planning

Archana Dittakavi               Downtown Brooklyn /   Wikimedia Foundation

Brooklyn Heights

Barry Kogan                       Inwood                          Hunter College

Dan Phiffer                         Bushwick                      City College / ShiftSpace

Dr. Susan Fox                    Park Slope                    Park Slope Parents

Eugene Atkins                    East Elmhurst               Videographer

Jeffrey Barke                      Bushwick                      The Mechanism / CnI Board

Jennifer Dong                     Sheepshead Bay           Hunter College

Melanie Reyes                    East Harlem                  Hunter College

Noreen Ellis                        Rockaway                     Rockaway Initiative

Pat Lowenhaupt                 Jackson Hts.                 .nyc supporter

Paul Bunten                        Manhattan Valley           Westsiders for Public Participation

Paul Farkas                        NoHo                             Connecting.nyc Inc - COO

Richard Hellenbrech           Bellrose                        Community Board 13 Queens

Richard Knipel                    Flatbush / Midwood       Wikimedia New York City

S. Mitra Kalita                     Jackson Hts.                  Journalist

Steve Bull                           LES / Chinatown            Technologist / Tour Leader

Thomas Lowenhaupt          Jackson Heights           Connecting.nyc Inc. (CnI)

Wai Chan (Lacey)               Kew Gardens Hills        Queensboro Library


After the introductions Thomas gave an update on the .nyc TLD and Connecting.nyc Inc.’s dotNeighborhoods initiative.

ICANN – The entity with primary responsibility for issuing TLDs, ICANN, has either stalled or slowed down in implementing its New TLD policy, depending on who you talk to. To overcome concerns of the Intellectual Property community and others, several studies and negotiations are underway. An Expressions of Interest process is being considered as a solution to a system capacity question, but other problems remain. It will likely be 2011 before ICANN receives applications for new TLDs of any type. We recently submitted comments suggesting that TLDs for cities and cultural entities, being far less problematic than “brand” and “dictionary word” TLDs, should be given priority.

City of New York – The city’s Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications (DoITT), assuming the role of the city’s “governance authority,” the entity ICANN requires to play a role in the city’s TLD selection process, issued a Request for Proposals, or RFP, for a partner to help it develop .nyc on October 5, 2009.

DoITT has not announced the firms that submitted proposals at the December 23, 2009 deadline, but it is believed that the traditional registry operators CORE, Mind and Machine, NuStar, and Verisign did so. DoITT’s commissioner, Paul Cosgrave, stepped down in December and we are trying to get a reading as to the status of the October RFP.

While questions have been raised as to DoITT’s role as the city’s “governance authority” in ICANN’s eyes, we were delighted that its RFP called for neighborhood names to be reserved.

Connecting.nyc Inc. - We did not file a proposal in response to the October 5, 2009 RFP. But we continue to advocate for the development of .nyc as a public interest resource and believe that the dotNeighborhood names are the most persuasive way to make the advantage of a public interest TLD palpable. We remain prepared to play any necessary role to facilitate the development of the city’s TLD in the public interest.

This is the third dotNeighborhoods meeting we’ve sponsored. Several pages about dotNeighborhoods and summarizing those meetings are available on our wiki. (Short URLs about our dotNeighborhoods initiative, those meetings, and the recently completed Hunter College Urban Affairs case study are available at the conclusion of this report.)

With the overview’s conclusion, the meeting moved on to a presentation by the Urban Affairs Graduate Workshop of Hunter College.

Hunter College Urban Affairs Workshop Case Study

The Urban Affairs Graduate Workshop of Hunter College completed a case study for Connecting.nyc Inc. in December 2009 entitled “Neighborhoods in a Digital Era.” Jennifer Dong, Barry Kogan, and Melanie Reyes of the research team presented an overview of their research methods and results. (A fourth team member, Matthew Leiderman, was unable to attend the meeting.)

Hunter selected and studied 3 prototypical city neighborhoods – Pelham Bay, Park Slope, and Harlem – to help shape dotNeighborhood development by exploring three areas: Identity, Content, and Governance.

The Hunter researchers made a 20 minute presentation about their work, took questions, and participated in the general discussion. The case study’s Executive Summary is available on our wiki. (See http://bit.ly/Hunter-Report.) There you’ll also find a link from which you may download the full report


After the Hunter presentation, a discussion on the report and other dotNeighborhood issues ensued. The following are some of the comments offered.

­Steve Bull raised questions about the use of 3rd level Domain Name System names, e.g., Restaurants.Chinatown.nyc, with Restaurants being the 3rd level name. (The Domain Name System is the basic technology that manages the dotNeighborhood domain names and all others.) There are numerous 3rd level names that might provide opportunities as well as raise distribution and governance issues.

Richard Hellenbrech was chair of Queens Community Board 13 for 8 years and is an expert of local governance and neighborhoods. Board 13 has responsibility for a dozen neighborhoods, many of which were formerly towns, on the eastern edge of the city. In addition to the Community Board, Richard is active with his Belrose neighborhood’s civic activities. There are 6 civic organizations in the Belrose and Richard believes they would cooperate on making a Belrose.nyc work for their joint benefit.

Dr. Susan Fox, founder of Park Slope Parents (parkslopeparents.com) with 3,000 subscribing parents, has found the Net fruitful for her neighborhood. She explored the availability of parkslope.com and .org before selecting a domain name. She believes ParkSlope.nyc would be helpful for local communication. ­

Richard Knipel, president of Wikimedia New York City, an affiliate of the Wikimedia Foundation (with Wikipedia its largest project), stressed the benefits of crowdsourcing, or collaborative development, and how it might be applied to the .nyc TLD. He made the point that this project could be structured as one big wiki to serve the whole community of the city (along with portals, etc, for various neighborhoods), analogous to wikis that are used for example by a number of university communities like Columbia: see http://www.wikicu.com/Main_Page.

In an email after the meeting Richard noted that he envisions a potentially big role for libraries in this, sharing information about their own institutions, and more importantly, for libraries to become a general clearing-house for the training and collaboration of community contributors to the dotNeighborhoods project.

Archana Dittakavi attends Brooklyn Law School and lives in nearby Brooklyn Heights. She is also a Wikimedia Intern, with Wikimedia providing oversight for a number of collaborative projects, including Wikipedia. She suggested that we focus on goals, the role dotNeighborhoods will play, and move forward from there.

Jeffrey Barke, a member of Connecting.nyc Inc.’s board of directors and senior programmer for TheMechanism, stated that a script might be developed to report on the number of city neighborhood names currently used in domain names.

Thomas Lowenhaupt commented that during the past few years much awareness as to the benefits of transparency of documents and processes has arisen. Initially in Washington and more recently in City Hall, government has responded to demands for improved access to processes and the release of “raw date” which can be used in Net initiatives. While these enable transparency, they can be most fruitfully utilized in conjunction with broad engagement and participation in community activities and governance, which hopefully the dotNeighborhoods will bring.

­Aline Fader, a graduate student of urban planning at Pratt Institute noted that she formerly lived in Pelham and that she recalled somewhat more neighborhood identification than reported with some areas that do self-identify (co-op city, city island, etc.) and that is likely to change over time. She believed using regional names (north Bronx) was insufficient. Aline urged that a technical solution for administering the sites should be determined after their ownership and purpose are determined. And she suggested that creating a process for allocating them or creating a clear directive/mission for the group who would then determine that process is the most important thing to do.

Toward the end of the discussion Barry Kogan offered an interesting note: Harlem is not one of the 305 neighborhoods the City Planning Department has listed on its website, that listing has been our base. Obviously we’ve got to look very carefully at creating a comprehensive list of all extant neighborhoods.

As the meeting neared its conclusion, Lowenhaupt noted that while the city has seen the wisdom in reserving the neighborhood names, he was not sure what, should the DoITT direction prevail, it will take to get those names away from the city. That is, what will it take for the city to release those “reserved names” to serve the neighborhoods they describe?

He reported that the previous meeting had suggested forming an Ad Hoc group to move the development of the dotNeighborhoods along. Lowenhaupt suggested that a statement of principles regarding the role and responsibilities of the dotNeighborhoods be drafted, endorsed by supporters via an Ad Hoc dotNeighborhood Trust. He noted that Connecting.nyc Inc. is a client of New York Lawyers for the Public Interest and he’s had discussions with them about assisting with the formation of an appropriate organization structure. In parallel with the formation of an entity, a statement of principles should be developed and passed along to the City Council and Mayor. All agreed.

Following the meeting a draft of a dotNeighborhoods Proclamation was created and made available on Connecting.nyc’s wiki. It will be presented to the meeting attendees for their thoughts, circulated widely, refined, and presented by the dotNeighborhoods Trust to our elected representatives for their thoughts, consideration, and assistance with developing the dotNeighborhoods.

The meeting ended at 8:30.

Event photos are available: http://www.meetup.com/dotNYC/calendar/12308684/.

Short URLs: dotNeighborhoods Home - http://bit.ly/dotNeighborhoods

                    Our Wiki - http://bit.ly/OurWiki

                    Our Blog - http://bit.ly/OurBlog

                    Hunter Executive Summary - http://bit.ly/Hunter-Report

                    Cyber Land Use Plan - http://bit.ly/CyberLandUse

                    Issue-Communities - http://bit.ly/4NumLK

                    DoITT RFI Response - http://bit.ly/4EsrmG  


Related Materials 

Key .nyc Pages