Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Correspondents/Eyes on the Streets update:

We are about to enter into the second month of World Streets existence, and are almost a week into the construction of our new World Streets Sentinels Map, so let me take a few minutes of your time to try to update you quickly on where this is heading from this point on.

1. Moving target: if you are a little confused about how all of this is supposed to work here at the beginning, let me assure you that you are not the only one. What we are setting off on here is a collaborative communication learning process, the basic underlying philosophy and broad goals of which are I hope pretty clear (see today's opening editorial), with the rest to evolve as we move ahead and learn. I am comfortable with that and hope that you will be as well.

2. Peer-to-peer: I have always considered that one of the goals of a really successful public interest contribution is that it is wide open – i.e., that it provides materials, clues and tools which can help enable good things to happen without necessarily the provider of the tools of the initial ideas for ever emerging as the necessary central fulcrum of everything that the initial push might set off. This is definitely one of the objectives of World Streets, and I hope that you will take this as an invitation to run with any of this with your own ideas and initiatives. Of course I have to hope that whatever it is will be consistent with the basic philosophy we so strongly believe in, but in any event I am confident that the quality of the fundamental ideas and philosophic principles is sufficient to guarantee that this will pretty much have.

3. Correspondent contributions: As originally promised this is a no obligation activity, and I propose that in the first months the pattern that will suit you best will be the one that we mutually learn as the project advances. Again the sections Contributor Guidelines and Correspondents are useful as background reading which I can heartily recommend prior to posting or commenting if you will. I might add that we have particular interest in contributions which will fall under the categories including Honk!, the infamous Bad News Department, Toolkit , outstanding new projects or programs, people or groups that are making a difference, and basically anything that might be going on in your city or area of interest which has universal interest and potential application.

4. Eyes on the Street map. This is a pretty good microcosm for the rest. It is intended to illustrate in a striking manner the way in which we are attempting to combine the global and the local. There are a couple of ideas that we are looking at integrating into both this map and the project overall:

Local identification: Each city symbol needs to link to a specific person and a specific place. When you click a city, take Pune in India as example, this will take you direct to Sujit. I have tried to take him at his exact address in his neighborhood, 383 Narayan Peth, but I am going to need a little help from him in order to pinpoint the exact location of his home. I hope that we will be able to do this for all of our cooperating colleagues. (You will hopefully appreciate in this context why I have so doggedly insisted on the initial identification encompassing both the name of our cooperating colleagues and the city/country affiliation. Also In this regard, kindly you make sure I have your exact street address so, as close as possible to attaching it to your listing.)

Green Map: I am also playing around with the concept of linking each city to a Green Map (See www.greenmaps.org). As part of this, have already placed links not only in going but also in Barcelona, Seattle, Cape Town and one or two others.

Traffic cams: Another possibility that I intend to have a closer look at is that of finding the nearest traffic cam so that the visitor can get some kind of feel for what the streets actually look like at different points in time in that place.

4. Expanding World Streets coverage: We already after less than a week have more than 40 kind colleagues who have indicated that they will be pleased to exercise this item street function in their city and more broadly. I would hope during the course of April, the second month our new journal, to bring this up to ensure coverage of something like 100 world cities, i.e. cooperating colleagues.
Geographic: More coverage of Africa, the Middle East, the former parts of the Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc, Latin America and Asia are definitely called for as priorities. And I think we should be very ambitious about coverage in both China and India.

Gender: One of the basic pillars of this project is that we need to engage more women in the process of planning and decision-making. Thus far of the first 40 correspondence coming in, only eight are women. To rectify this, I intend to adjust the outreach in these next ages to give heavy reference to qualified female colleagues, so if you have nominations for me please be sure that they will be immediately activated.

Sorry to have tied up so much of your time with this, but I think it is important that we get off to a strong start and a shared understanding of the best way to go about all this. Of course as always your suggestions, corrections, and ideas for doing better are enormously well.

Eric Britton
Editor, World Streets

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