Tag Archives: Chicago

From E-Democracy’s Chicago CityCamp, Jan 22-24

January 29

I’ve been waiting all week to do this wrapup of E-Democracy’s pretty amazing  CityCamp last weekend for about 100 civic-minded IT folks from some 30 states, with dozens of them doing IT for cities large and small.  Here’s the  full program. Tone was set first thing Saturday AM by Tim O’Reilly (IT author and coiner of the term “Web 2.0“) and his kickoff interview of San Francisco CIO Chris Vein, pictured right, fearless proponent for open source & Gov 2.0 (good 20 second video and very informative 19 minute video).

The night before, at the Friday meet & greet, I had a lively hour with E-Democracy founder and Minneapolis resident Steve Clift (pictured below) Chicago web & app designer Crystal Wilson (who works “with urban planners to make visible what is otherwise misunderstood, unseen, or only imagined) and Benet Haller, Director of Chicago’s Planning and Development Department.  Also met Aaron Soules and Conor White-Sullivan of Amherst, MA, whose Localocracy site, soon to launch, struck me as having lots in common with the information gathering, processing and resolution  (problem-solving) mechanism that we’re developing here at Chicago Civic Media (we’re also a couple months from launching our site). Then a nice long latish-night walk to Billy Goat’s Tavern with Mike Trakan of Chicago’s Cabrini Connections and Mapping for Justice to introduce Peter Fleck of Minneapolis to the celebrated Chicago “cheezbuggah”.

On Saturday at the U. of I. Innovation Center, I floated like a butterfly to get glimpses and sometime good looks at all 8 or 10 sessions being run simultaneously, taking notes and once stinging like a bee when foreclosures and not gang and drugs was mentioned as Chicago’s #1 unsolved problem (Susannah, I apologize, hope I didn’t distract too much).

Two presentations stood out for me.  Apps for Democracy, by Peter Corbett of istrategylabshere’s his 20 second Gov 2.0 video – was full of invaluable ideas – here’s his 20 page booklet – for anyone who wants to engage IT people (or anyone) in creative ways. The second, by Jon Udell on the seemingly innocuous (to me) topic of event aggregation, whose elmcity project opened my eyes to the enormous social bonding potential of properly tagged RSS feeds.  I can only hope this summary doesn’t misrepresent his intense presentation – and I don’t know if he liked it when at the end I jokingly said I’d “remember has as the Ted Turner of social media.”  Afterwards it was Peter Fleck who steered me to Jon’s IT Conversations with IT innovators covering a “wide range of issues at the intersection of technology and society.” Huge resource.

This account is so incomplete! I gotta mention the presentations by Keith Hurwitz on Microsoft’s  Open Government Data Initiative, Steve Clift on Public Meetings, and SusannahVazquez, Director of LISC Chicago’s New Communities Program. And it was great to meet my homey and fellow high school alumnus from New Haven, the gregarious Ben Berkowitz of SeeClickFix. And the redoubtable Daniel X. O’Neil of EveryBlock!

Now to explore all the sites I just put up here! Thanks, Steve Clift, and thanks Rockefeller Foundation & other sponsors for a great event.


ChicagoWRKS.com: News Media Revolution in a 20 Second Soundbite!

December 12

OK, Chicago,  it’s time for Chicago news media to stop moaning and groaning about gangs and drugs in Chicago and start helping Chicagoans DO SOMETHING to solve the problem.

This clip was shot in a mostly white upper class Chicago suburb and spoken by mostly white people. So you may ask: who are these people to talk about gangs and drugs in Chicago?

Well,  just wait ’til you see our next clip shot at El stations and places in Chicago.

Independent filmmaker Dan Skubal (with the dog) shot this video in Glenview, IL. The man has talent.

The video is a promo for our submission to the Knight News Challenge.  While we can’t discuss the specifics of the online interactive platform of news and information that we’ve designed for Chicago and its 77 neighborhood areas, we are proud to say that it

  • Values Chicagoans of all ages as informed participants in the government decisions that affect their lives.
  • Values journalism and democracy as integrated, collaborative/competitive enterprises.
  • Works across media platforms to make reporters and problem-solvers of everyone at all stages of its problem-solving news cycle.
  • Re-invents and re-energizes the news cycle, morphing it from the clock time between editions of a news outlet to the mental time between community-generated solutions to a problem.
  • Facilitates its news cycle impartially and accurately.
  • Taps (profitably, in time) the “Market of the Whole” of all Chicagoans by meeting massive, citywide demand for productive civic discourse.
  • Can be utilized by other news media.

Morphing the news. From reported story to defined solution to newsworthy outcome. That’s our core idea. Expanding the news cycle from the traditional 24 hour cycle of news reportage to an extended, even multi-month, cycle of news reportage and problem-solution. Creating a news cycle that gives Chicagoans time to consider and advance the city’s most promising opportunities, whatever these may be, and to address its most intractable problems, from potholes to economic growth to youth violence. And, that enables Chicagoans to revisit and revise past solutions even as it generates new ones.

This, as we see it, is the future of journalism in a viable democracy. And it’s what our interactive platform will create in Chicago.

CHICAGO WRKS poll: What’s Chicago’s #1 Unsolved Problem?

August 10. We’re working to create Chicago WRKS, an online network of problem-solvers in Chicago.  Begining early next year, we plan to start holding online voter-driven reality TV-style contests where small teams compete and co-operate with other to win cash prizes by developing best solutions to key Chicago problems. Details, with ways to get involved, are below.

But first: how will Chicago WRKS select Chicago’s #1 unsolved problem?


If you vote for “Other Problem,” please identify your unsolved problem at the link for “comments” at the very end of this post (our poll should have included Public Schools, for instance. So far a third of all votes have been for “other problem”, but none have identified that problem!) Last weekend we gave this poll to some 30 visitors at the Fiesta del Sol in Pilsen Village (look for results at the Aug. 2 post just below this one).

Now for some details about Chicago WRKS. After much thought about the future of civic media, we decided to follow up on CCMP advisor Arturo Castro’s wise suggestion and launch an online prototype of our civic media reality TV contests here in Chicago, hopefully in early 2010. The site name, Chicago WRKS, echoes Chicago’s “City That Works” motto. We’ll start small, initially reaching out to high school and college students and other active computer users, but working to eventually create online problem-solving contests that target and engage the “Market of the Whole” of all 2.5 million Chicagoans. The flyer we handed out August 1 at Fiesta del Sol describes it:

WRKS logo 1

Here’s a new idea. Really new! Chicago WRKS brings Chicago politics and government into the 21st century. How? Its online forums give all Chicagoans an informed voice in the decisions that affect their lives.

So how does it work? You’ve seen American Idol and Survivor and Big Brother and Dancing with the Stars.  You’ve seen Reality TV.  Now imagine a three-month reality TV contest right here in Chicago with $25,000 in prizes. Imagine dozens of Chicago teams (2/4 members) competing and co-operating with each other in a series of online (eventually televised) contests to find the BEST SOLUTION to a crucial Chicago problem. And, competing also to be the BEST PROBLEM SOLVER. Each team has its own website with videos and research materials.  So who chooses the problems to be solved?

Thanks – and here’s how to get involved in Chicago WRKS:

□    Volunteer or work as a paid staff member.   Right now, we need sharp IT people and also strong networkers to expanding our problem-solving ties to businesses, community groups and community & mainstream media.

□    Compete! Form your own WRKS team: IT, video, researcher, presenter (contact us NOW, let us know what problem you want to solve and we’ll let you know when to start competing).

□    Support your favorite team online (via research) and in your community – contact us NOW and we will connect you with prospective teams that are looking for your support.

□    Check out the teams and their solutions online when the first contest begins next year and VOTE, VOTE, VOTE!

To reach us, email Steve Sewall at sewall2020[at]comcast.net.

YOU are Chicago. WE are Chicago Civic Media Project.