The NetSquared experience was more than a bit intense: two extended days of discussions with the progressive and powerful. We were one of 21 projects recognized for our efforts to use the internet for social change. We came home to our swampy fertile crescent with a bit of seed money to get our project going. It's a small seed, but it's an official start. So, thank you NetSquared. I've been asked to define this project in terms of its benefits. How does the development of this mapping application directly create positive change? How will people use it? How will the benefits be realized?
Our project will create a visualization tool that can be used to document the historic significance of neighborhoods. Yesterday I spoke with Liliana at the Partnership for Transformation of Urban Communities about how we can help map their photo census of Pontilly. Pontilly is the neighborhood organization for Ponchartrain Park and Gentilly Woods. These are early and mid-20th century neighborhoods that have joined forces to lobby for historic district status. Our photo-mapping presentation tool can help them achieve that goal. They are so close. They have already created the photo census of the neighborhood and uploaded the photos to a server. Their data is in a spreadsheet. The photos and data just need to be integrated into a dynamic map to help tell their story.
Open data. Open source. Open access. We will make it clear to participants upfront that they are contributing to the creation of a virtual public library. Any data sets integrated into our maps will be licensed though Creative Commons. Our maps will provide information about the sources for the data, recognizing the work of the people, organizations and archives who are creating and providing the data and photos. The data sets themselves will be exportable as KML for re-mashing. We have so much more to gain by sharing this information, than by keeping it proprietary.
Our project will create a library of historic base maps and data sets. This is a dream come true. Every architect I know (and I know more than my share) would love to have the ability to review different historic site maps online and then be able to actually USE those maps to present their work. Not only will architects use this feature, but so will the academy, the non-profits, the government, city planners, the schoolchildren, the tourists.
We are creating a site-specific presentation tool for telling stories. The Neighborhood Story Project's mission is "Our stories told by us." In a collaboration with Tulane City Center, they produced Cornerstones, celebrating the everyday monuments of New Orleans culture and neighborhoods. They are accepting nominations to expand their registry of everyday monuments, sites which other people just don't see. It's such a beautiful project. We have partnered with the Tulane City Center to help integrate their photos, oral histories, video and building plans into a dynamic map.
I don't think I would be so engaged in this mapping project, were it not so incredibly loaded with potential. Our crescent city is such fertile ground for mapping and data collection and photo documentation. We need to strike while it's hot.