Coauthoring the opposite of crime maps


Reading MLPodcast‘s interview with Platial.Com Co-Founder Di-Ann Eisnor, what excites me about Platial is the opportunity for anyone to map what they LOVE about their neighborhoods and communities.  As housing markets slide into downcycles across the country, consumers will make homebuying decisions less on financial return and more on quality of life.  That’s where interactive, community mapping comes in.

But the transparency that Web 2.0 enables also comes with a “dark side,” so here’s a challenge / invitation: 

It’s discouraging for me to see how much attention the Chicago Crime map is getting, not because it isn’t a brilliant web 2.0 application but because it focuses on the worst of humanity.  Some of us have begun to talk about creating the “opposite of crime maps.”  If there are dozens of types of crime that can be mapped, shouldn’t there be at least that many ways to map “social capital” or good old-fashioned neighborliness?

My guess is that organizations like NeighborWorks have already created a typology of community assets, but wouldn’t it be fun to invite ordinary people, like those Platial attracts, to help create some kind of “folksonomy” of tags that capture the friendliness, uniqueness, and richness (measured in generosity of spirit not housing values) of their neighborhoods and communities?

If others are interested, two dates might be considered for organizing such a grassroots campaign, which could include both real estate consumers and professionals:

1.  Dan Gillmor, author of We the Media and founder & director of the Center for Citizen Media, is convening a Citizen Journalism Un-Conference in Boston / Cambridge at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School on August 7, 2006; and

2.  A week later, August 14th is the halfway point to Valentine’s Day.  Maybe it’s never been celebrated before, but why not create a day to celebrate summer romances?  It’s no accident that Platial attracts hopeless romantics, so why not use that date to invite neighbors to say what they LOVE about their communities, too?  (Afterall, Worcester, Massachusetts is the home of the modern Valentine in America and both the novel and movie, Love Story, were set at Harvard Law School, so why shouldn’t Cambridge be the birthplace of the first annual celebration of Half Valentine’s Day?)

Could be a great way to begin aggregating “the opposite of crime maps” around the country or at least a demonstration project here in Boston / Cambridge in conjunction with WikiMania.

Posted in Mapping

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