Zilino - Your friendly e-participation engine

Curious to see what Tim and his colleagues are working on...

PEP-Net launched: New european eParticipation Network

My colleague Hans Hagedorn just came back from the PEP-Net Kick-Off:

PEP-NET will be a European network of all stakeholders active in the field of eParticipation. PEP-NET therefore already includes public bodies, solution providers and citizen organizations as well as researchers and scientists. The network is open to all organizations willing and actively trying to advance the idea and use of eParticipation in Europe.

The project aims to help overcome fragmentation and promote best practice by connecting established and experienced eParticipation players and networks throughout Europe as a critical first step. The objective of this project is to achieve critical mass for the establishment of a Pan European eParticipation Network (PEP-NET). Such a network will act as a repository and disseminator of good practice and exchange of experience, and be a visible resource for all interested parties across the European Union.

PEP-NET will ensure wider access to European eParticipation projects and permit more effective dialogue between eParticipation experts, researchers, practitioners, public administrations, civil society organisations and the interested public with the ultimate goal of facilitating knowledge transfer, encouraging further eParticipation trials and establishing European leadership in this field.

 

Lifestyle Democracy

Recently I stumbled across Traci Fenton's article 7 Trends Making Businesses More Democratic and finally discovered a term to better describe a major influence on our work that I've been thinking about a lot: Lifestyle Democracy.

We vote for the next American Idol, buy goods after reading the pros and cons that others discussed, rate our top movies, pictures, podcasts and get recommendations on what to watch, read, listen to next.

It’s the rise of what I call “lifestyle democracy,” where everything from media to music, education to fashion is being democratized. The effect of this trend: With life becoming democratized employees will expect the same at work.

... and citizens from their governments.

 

Google Earth Use in Everyday Life

As planners, geographers, researchers, etc. we're all excited about the opportunities that Google Earth provides for our daily work. But looking at this survey/question Lifehacker posted today (amongst a tech-savvy audience), it doesn't seem like the data, information and interactivity we create on top of it has hit the masses yet. At the time of this post, 66% use it very infrequently, though the options are poorly worded/incomplete. But the comments provide a nice overview of how different users apply GE:

... Google earth helps me get a nice lay of the land so to speak before I travel anywhere ... maybe for my science teacher trying to explain global warming, but the only time I've actually USED Google Earth was for a science project ... Sometimes, I will "fly" to my mom's house when I feel homesick ... I've used Google Earth to track most of our Geocaching expeditions ... I do a bit of cycling and skiing. It's great to export the kml file, and show other people where you have been ... and of course: I get a bit sentimental when I look at my own house in Google Earth, and see my old 1985 V-8 Thunderbird still parked in the driveway! I miss that car... I stupidly sold it, years ago

- just to offer a few sound bites. What really strikes me is that nobody mentions any planning related uses - no zoning maps, no 3D visualizations of new buildings, no fly-throughs for masterplans/comprehensive plans...

Looking for a new job

I recently left my former job at PlaceMatters in search of a new challenge. While I've taken on some freelance work for now, I'm ultimately looking for a full-time position somewhere at the intersection of Planning, Public Relations/Involvement and Communication Technology. 

If you, or anyone you know is looking for a passionate employee with hands-on experience implementing all stages of public involvement projects for regional visioning, comprehensive planning, and community planning, a tech-savvy urban and regional planner or creative communications manager, please have a look at my portfolio and resume and contact me.

Starbucks' eParticipation efforts a success story

When I first heard about the My Starbucks Idea campaign, I didn't pay much attention. After checking back and reading more about it, I have to say I'm impressed. 

The site asks customers to "shape the future of Starbucks" in four ways: Share, Vote, Discuss, See. Ideas are voted on after they are submitted and the ones with the most votes go into review. The "See" section lists the customer-submitted ideas that were actually adopted.

Looking at the way this eParticipation offering is designed, it seems like they've done their homework. The facilitation team is on the ball, the way ideas move from their initial stage to being implemented straightforward and transparent plus they’ve taken the “let’s talk and maybe it will impact action” concept and made the action a measurable component.  It makes the consumer feel like they're actually impacting change.

The site is powered by Salesforce.com, the same San Francisco customer-relations management firm that powers IdeaStorm.com for Dell Inc. The world's No. 2 personal computer maker started IdeaStorm early last year in hopes of repairing its battered customer-service credentials.

Both online communities offer three options for weighing in -- sharing an idea, voting on it and discussing it -- plus a tab with updates on which ideas the company is putting into action. [via seattlepi.com]

It's great to see our society moving towards a participatory culture and large companies embracing it. That still leaves the question: If Starbucks opens up and lets us, the customers, discuss "why extra milk the only difference between Venti and Grande drinks is", to a point where they now actually consider changing this (after 15000+ votes and 120+ comments), when do our cities and communities follow?

Story Telling via Google Maps

It's fascinating to see how new web technology is reshaping story telling. I recently found this great example of science fiction story telling via the O'Reilly Radar

Penguin books is working with 6 authors to tell 6 stories in 6 weeks. The first one, The 21 Steps, is told via embedded Google Maps. Wow. What a great method of delivering stories, especially this one that follows a man around town (inspired by the classic thriller The 39 Steps).

Anatomy of an eMeeting

Over the last weeks I finally found the time to put together a video outlining our eMeetings using  the video footage we collected during our community workshops for the Routt County 2030 project. 

eParticipation and Cross-Media Participation Webinar

Today I was invited to host a webinar for the EBM Tools Network  talking about our civic engagement work. I boiled down the longer presentation I usually give to leave room for a very interesting Q&A session afterwards.

 

Play audio file to listen to a recording of the presentation >>
 

EveryBlock talks about their online maps

EveryBlock launched end of January as a geo-referenced news and data aggregation platform in San Francisco, New York and Chicago.

The site attempts to answer one deceptively simple question: “What’s happening in my neighborhood?” For EveryBlock, it boils down to three types of information: geographically-relevant news and blog entries, civic information, and “fun from across the web.” (via TechCrunch). 

They received over $ 1m in last years Knight Foundation News Challenge in competition with our iCommunity.TV.

Besides the huge potential and the interesting ambitions of this endeavor, their online maps caught my attention. Unlike most other spatial web applications, they didn't build a mashup using base layers from Google, Yahoo or Microsoft.

 

With Google Maps or any other web-based mapping service, we’d be limited to the color palette, typeface, and other design elements that service’s designers chose. While those maps can be handsome products, their choices aren’t our choices, and don’t mesh well with our site’s aesthetics. Additionally, maps are fundamentally layered — eg., a parks layer sits on top of a streets layer, which sits on top of a cities layer, and on down. Maps can be composed of many such layers, up to a dozen or more. The maps from Google Maps, however, don’t let us choose which layers we receive. They are “collapsed” down into a single image, one that is well-designed for general purpose, but one that includes layers we’re not interested in displaying.... (via their blog)

 

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