On Aug. 22, South Bend, Indiana, became the 15th municipality (and, with a population of roughly 101,000, the smallest!) in the US to sign an open data policy into law. …. What’s uncommon about South Bend is not just its size, but the fact that their new policy firmly grounds “open data” in the state’s public records law.

Read more on the Sunlight Foundation blog 

Should residents take municipal projects into their own hands? (poll) |

I think we’re likely to see this more and more.  As people develop a much stronger sense of community around specific issues through being able to connect to others who care about them easily through web tools, we’re going to see more and more cases where people feel more only empowered, but reinforced in their sense that something has to be done.  There’s a diffusion of ownership, a sense of being individually capable of being an agent for a larger issue, that seems to be reinforced by internet tools, despite the media fuss over us all starting vacantly at screens and getting stupid. 

Like a lot of the elements of this diffusion or decentralization of power (crowdfunding, tactical urbanism, etc.), I do think that three is a sea change going on here that will not be stoppable.  Fighting against it, like the investigations into the Cleveland bike lanes, might succeed sometimes, at least for a while, but I think this is a symptom of a deep paradigm shift in how at least a significant number of people relate to their communities.  The ones that succeed will be the ones that learn to deal with and harness this energetic, demanding, impatient, multi-faceted and intricately connected “public” and enable them to be meaningful and powerful actors.  The communities that try to command and control this will drive away the people who are most capable of enabling the community to adapt.

Should residents take municipal projects into their own hands? (poll) |

There’s nothing like a dashboard full of data and graphs and trend lines to make us feel like grown ups.


You’re supposed to put these dashboards up on a wall, on a huge plasma screen. Because of course numbers are twice as persuasive if you make them twice as big.

Stijn DeBrouwere, Cargo cult analytics

Go read this post, it’s awesome.

h/t David Churbuck, who added:

The admonition that, “You can’t manage what you don’t measure,” has built a corporate culture more concerned with looking buttoned-up, on the ball, and obsessively accurate than being intuitive, empathetic and innovative.

I was the guy who built these dashboards, peered at them for magical insights, puked them at my bosses, and over time I started to get really cynical and put tired old quotes pissing on measurement into my PowerPoint presentations:

Einstein: “Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.”

Warren Buffett:”They studied what was measurable, rather than what was meaningful” 

I know Debrouwere’s post appealed to me because he was specifically addressing metrics in the newsroom — a place I spent most of my career. But it also struck a current chord with me because of  my work for clients, all of whom cite Big Data incessantly as a force for disruption and transformation, yet haven’t the faintest clue of how to harness it or whom the Oracle will be in their organization who will study the digital tea leaves and come up with the single “AHA!” that will make them Measurement Legends.

(via stoweboyd)


This photograph, part of Shadi Ghadirian’s “Qajar” series, shows a young woman posing with an object banned under the Iranian Revolution. It’s one work out of many which will be shown at an exhibit at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts that features the work of 12 women photographers from the Middle East. There’s a lot to learn here.

Image: © Shadi Ghadirian