Peter Fleck is asking about content guidelines for Minneapolis’ wireless portal. My initial thoughts…..
Some of you may know I worked on a similar project (same idea, but in the private sector) back around 2000. All the problems we struggled with then are non-existant now (syndication formats, wireless equipment, etc). Since the U of M’s Wireless Communities conferences, I’ve been thinking about what should be available “for free” within a Muni-WiFi network.
I’d rather the city not play favorites or give the impression of playing favorites, so I recommend – only web-accessible city services (pay parking tickets, check on library books, pay water bills, city council meeting dates, opening hours of public buildings, that kinda stuff. For three reasons:
- The wireless network is from the city. There’s a real need to increase the accessibility, usability, and visibility of city services online. This will drive that demand.
- There’s no good metric to determine why one private publication should be included and not another (i.e. StarTribune.com vs. NorthEastBeat.com vs. MNstories.com vs. etc). Some worthy publication will always be excluded. Better to excluded everyone than continually argue who gets in. Even if the neighborhood groups get to pick what is presented on their nodes – relevance isn’t geographic. Neighborly gatekeepers are still gatekeepers.
- Directing energy at improving electronically delivered city services helps all internet using citizens, not just those using the free portion of wifi network and is therefore a more effective use of tax dollars than managing which private publications are within the portal.
In the comments, Peter clarifies some more of the current vision.
I’m holding my original position. No current online publication provides enough community value to actually belong there. If TCDailyPlanet is in the free zone, than PFHyper.com/blog should be in the free zone. As should newpatriot.org and every other Minneapolis-based blog…..and that’s absurd.
Instead, we should give neighborhood groups the skills and tools to publish new and services directly. Otherwise we’re just giving them the choice of vendors that won’t actually serve them.