Announcing The Jackson Heights Wiki

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The following letter inviting residents of Jackson Heights to share their knowledge of the neighborhood on the Jackson heights wiki was sent today.


May 23, 2017

Fellow Jackson Heights Residents,

This is a somewhat long message, so I’m going to summarize it here for those who’ve been awaiting this email and know what to do: wiki.JacksonHeights.nyc is now ready and waiting for you to share what you know about the neighborhood. (For reasons explained below, the Home page is not editable, all others are.)

The Somewhat Long Message.

The Jackson Heights wiki exists. It’s in the earliest of days – in biblical terms, a tad past separating the light from the dark. So far there’s not a whole lot to see, maybe 50 pages or so, some of which are stubs – starter pages needing polish and additional detail  before they possess real meaning. To give a feel for what’s there now, I’ll describe two existing pages.

  • Holmes Airport – I’ve lived in JH for 38 years and had never heard of Holmes Airport until I did a Wikipedia search for Jackson Heights. I learned that Holmes took up almost a quarter of the neighborhood from 1929 to 1940, when LaGuardia Airport opened and ran it out of business. Beyond the page’s raw information, take a look at the Questions, Resources & Possibilities section where several article additions and an Augmented Reality project are described. The page is an example of how our past can be fodder for our future, or put another way, how to build a mountain out of a molehill. (Is your home on the same spot where Amelia Earhart christened the Goodyear blimp Resolute at Holmes in 1932 ?)

  • The wiki’s Home Page is here. As noted above, this is the only page that can not be edited by the general public. The existence of this solitary “no changes” page provides an opportunity to bring up the need for a formal governance process. For the wiki (I’ll talk about the JacksonHeights.nyc website below), we’re starting out using similar editorial policies and processes to those used on Wikipedia. But because its a neighborhood wiki and not an encyclopedia, we’re going to need to make some changes. There are a lot of sensitive questions about “appropriate content” that need to be answered. Our governance page looks at that and how we make decisions about the wiki policies.

Why The Wiki?

We began our effort with the belief that Jackson Heights is built upon the shoulders of those who preceded us. And we see the wiki as an information archive of where we’ve come from, what we’ve done, and what’s here now. As well, a neighborhood wiki should detail resources and stories on how things got and get done.

We hope to get all meaningful neighborhood information together in one place and arrange for permanent availability. And there’s no realistic way to do that other than through a massive neighborhood-wide collaboration using wiki software.

Wikipedia’s managed to get over 5 million pages in the English language encyclopedia. How many contributors do we need to capture the detail of our neighborhood is unknown. But there are 100,000 residents here to help with the task – plus former residents, visitors, and well wishers – and our wiki software is a most powerful tool.

What can you do today? Here are some suggestions, some easy some difficult.

  • Start a page for an organization you belong to, or improve an existing page about it. Got a memory about a store you loved that is no longer with us (Caffe Greco!), start a page. Write about your building and perhaps some famous past residents (but before writing about current residents, we need to have a conversation about privacy – see the Governance and Appropriate content pages). I recall hearing that former Assembly member Ivan Lafayette had a proposal for an improved local transportation system – if you know anything about it, create a wiki page for it. Are you Cuban, Thai, Indian, or Nepalese? Create a page about your culture’s arrival and impact on Jackson Heights.

  • Simpler is to copy and past a page from Wikipedia. There are lots. Take a look at the Fifth Avenue Bus Company page. This page was clipped from Wikipedia and posted as a new page on our wiki. It needs to be reorganized and refocused about its role here. Eventually the page might have local photos and remembrances of its impact on JH. It will be a slow build process. Every wiki page is a collaboration that will change over time. For now, just get something started.

  • Fixing up existing pages is also quite worthwhile (that’s what most Wikipedians (Wikipedia editors) do. Correct spelling, choose a better word, find a reference, update, reorganize, these are all necessary and worthwhile tasks.

  • If you’re ambitious, follow up on a theme. For example, I started with a copy and paste from Wikipedia of Travers Park. Next I created a page for Thomas Travers from that page and a bit of googling. Next I added pages for Rory Staunton Field and the Staunton Foundation. Added links to other parks, and have stopped “parking” for now.

  • If you’re not interested in pagemaking, perhaps the policy area is of interest. Take a look at the Governance process and Appropriate content pages. These require a good deal of help. They are key to the wiki’s success. If we get these areas right, there’s a good likelihood we’ll succeed.

  • Finally, if you’ve got an idea or a gripe, I’m reachable via the below.

  • Final, final. If none of this appeals to you, forward this to a friend who might be interested.

The Future

The wiki is part of the Jackson Heights Initiative. It was begun by Connecting.nyc Inc., a NYS nonprofit that emerged from a resolution passed from our local community board in 2001. Connecting.nyc applied for and received the city’s license to operate the JacksonHeights.nyc domain. Our goal is to get the wiki and related digital resources in operation, (e.g., the JacksonHeights.nyc website), and transition control to a locally controlled nonprofit within the next couple of years.

The JacksonHeights.nyc website is not ready for viewing yet, remaining in the unimproved state we received it in from the city. Our next message will focus on plans for it. Until then, share your knowledge on the wiki.

Best,

Tom Lowenhaupt

———————————————–

Director, Connecting.nyc Inc.

Interim Director, JacksonHeights.nyc

[email protected]

Connecting.nyc

Jackson Hts., NYC

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Responding To Wannacrypt: The Road Toward A More Reliable Digital Environment

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We’ve never reposted an email before, but upon receiving the below from Brandt Dainow, we decided that because of its simplicity and clarity, it should be passed on uncut.

——

From:] On Behalf Of Brandt Dainow
Sent: Tuesday, May 16, 2017 13:20
To:
Subject: Re: Wannacrypt and Digital Geneva Convention: should ISOC take a position?

Perhaps the comment wasn’t meant to be insulting, but it is, in my opinion, outrageous to call the average computer user “clueless.”  I have observed such a contemptuous attitude amongst IT professionals towards the non-technical since I began working in IT in the 1970’s.  It is unreasonable to expect the average consumer, or even company, to be technically competent in IT.  We do not expect every company, no matter how small, to be able to maintain their own electricity supply, their cars, their plumbing, etc.  Why should IT professionals expect computing to be different?  If it was just an internal attitude, it would do no harm.  But the reality is this expectation of expertise permeates IT design.  Interfaces are hard for the average user because they come with many expectations from IT professionals, even basic skills like how to visually divide up the screen and identify commonalities in icons are not natural.  There’s nothing “natural” about a mouse, it also takes practice and skill.  The result of this expectation coupled with contempt is that computer systems are needlessly complicated, technical documentation is poor or completely lacking, and IT support costs are too high.  No effort is made to simplify maintenance or use, all effort is focused on building new features, adding complexity, and trying to lock users into proprietary systems, against their own interest.  We build the systems, we design the standards.  If IT systems are too complicated for the average user, it’s not their fault, it’s ours.

The market structure then reinforces this.  Why was Microsoft allowed to cease support for WinXP?  Where do they get the right to dictate to the world what we do with products we have purchased and now own?  Did Microsoft drop XP because it was trying to improve consumer conditions?  No – they did it to force people to buy more products.  If Microsoft desired to cease XP support, why did they prevent an industry of XP support developing by restricting access to the necessary code?  If significant numbers of hospitals and government agencies depend on XP, Microsoft’s commercial selfishness endangered lives.  Why does Microsoft prevent other companies issuing security patches for any version of Windows?  They don’t restrict for the common good of society, they do it to make money, and the rest of society can rot as far as they are concerned.  I completely understand Microsoft’s decision to cease XP support – I used to work in Microsoft support and know what it costs.  But that doesn’t mean they couldn’t have licenced it out to others, and there certainly would have been an opportunity to make money doing so.  IP and any other issues could have been easily handled – it happens all the time.  If I had been given the opportunity to start a business running XP patching, with the existing user base out there, I could have obtained millions in start-up funding overnight – such a business is a no-brainer.

We have to stop treating OS’s and other software like optional consumer products and recognise that they are now essential services.  We cannot allow software vendors to do whatever they like – force upgrades, withdraw support, etc.  Free market ideas do NOT have any place here – there is no free market – who is my alternative supplier for Windows?  A free market would have meant people could have shifted to another patch supplier when Microsoft dropped support for XP.  When we will wake up and recognise that we are living under monopoly domination by selfish mega-corps who will act against our interests in order to make more profit?  Companies like Microsoft are simply anti-capitalist.  This pattern has been seen over and over in every new tech industry of the modern ear, going back at least to rail.  The problem is always the same – consolidation into abusive monopolies, and the solution is always the same – government intervention, licencing and regulation.

Regards,

Brandt Dainow

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Internet Society Calls For Hearings on .nyc Contract Renewal

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February 6, 2017, New York City – Last week the New York Internet Society passed a resolution that called for the city of New York to hold public hearings before renewing its contract with Neustar Inc. for the operation of the .nyc TLD. The resolution stated:

“The Internet Society’s New York Chapter urges the city of New York to provide robust outreach and engagement opportunities for the city’s Internet stakeholder community prior to renewing the contract that will guide the operation of the .nyc TLD registry for the next 5 years.”

The resolution was sent to Mayor Bill deBlasio and other city officials with oversight of the city’s digital resources. It cited 14 areas of concern (see page 2 of below letter) and called upon the city to undertake a three stage review before renewing the contract:

  1. The City institute a public comment process.
  2. The City convene a town hall event where all stakeholders may make their views known.
  3. That the City review these comments and, as it sees fit, make appropriate adjustments.

The Internet Society’s New York Chapter (ISOC-NY) is a NYS non-profit founded in 1997 with the mission “to assure the beneficial, open evolution of the global Internet, and to promote local initiatives, maximize the societal benefits which the Internet can bring to the New York area.” It has taken a keen interest in .nyc as a public resource and over the years promoted, webcast, (and, on occasion, hosted) all public events where the development of the .nyc TLD has been discussed.

Here’s the letter:

2017-02-06_isoc-ny_dotnyc

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High-Bid Auctions Deflate the .nyc TLD

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stoptheauctionsJackson Hts., New York, October 27, 2016 – Our hope for an intuitive and trusted .nyc TLD took a hit today when 20 domain names were sold to 10 bidders in city’s first high-bid auction. While the city refers to these as “premium” names, we think of them as heritage names. With our city-TLD’s success predicated on its utility and predictability, this first of perhaps 25 auctions bodes poorly on its chances. More on that in a bit, but first some details on the auction.

The big winners (using their bidder names, the only ones available), were nameinvest and motionx with 4 properties each. Top dollar was spent by changejobs who purchased apartments.nyc, condos.nyc, and realestate.nyc laying out a total of $42,065. The bargain of the day went to hoofhearted who purchased roommates.nyc for $69. In total, more than $68,000 was bid. Here are the auction results:

  • Apartments.nyc
  • 58 bidders
  • winner: changejobs
  • $16,155
  • Construction.nyc
  • 28 bidders
  • winner: anasacebaruzzi
  • $500
  • Kitchen.nyc
  • 23 bidders
  • winner: motionx
  • $2,000
  • Renovation.nyc
  • 22 bidders
  • winner: nameinvest
  • $690
  • Brokers.nyc
  • 32 bidders
  • winner: nameinvest
  • $1,908
  • Furniture.nyc
  • 24 bidders
  • winner: motionx
  • $2,508
  • Lease.nyc
  • 24 bidders
  • winner; breadsticlk
  • $4,100
  • Roommates.nyc
  • 23 bidders
  • winner: hoofhearted
  • $69
  • Brownstones.nyc
  • 23 bidders
  • winner: luckbealady
  • $530
  • Garden.nyc
  • 22 bidders
  • winner:: motionx
  • $1,021
  • Living.nyc
  • 24 bidders
  • winner: greenappletree
  • $2,650
  • Rentals.nyc
  • 48 bidders
  • winner: guyg
  • $5,700
  • Condos.nyc
  • 41 bidders
  • winner: changejobs
  • $4,610
  • Homes.nyc
  • 37 bidders
  • winner: motionx
  • $3,200
  • Lofts.nyc
  • 29 bidders
  • winner: odash
  • $1,200
  • Studios.nyc
  • 27 bidders
  • winner: nameinvest
  • $1,008
  • CoOps.nyc
  • 23 bidders
  • winner: hoofhearted
  • $520
  • Interiors.nyc
  • 22 bidders
  • winner: nameinvest
  • $500
  • RealEstate.nyc
  • 60 bidders
  • winner: changejobs
  • $21,300
  • Sublet.nyc
  • 24 bidders
  • winner: guyg
  • $560

Using market metrics, the city can point to some positive results…

  • The auction winners now have the opportunity to develop these 20 domain names.
  • Someday soon some new websites might emerge and improve our lives. And if they are successful, add some jobs and taxes to our economy.
  • The city and several intermediaries will receive some revenue.

But the negative impacts are far more numerous and consequential…

Let’s explore this proposition by looking at this auction’s effects on a developer shopping for a domain name, and a typical New York internet user. From a developers perspective, with more than 1,000 TLDs to choose from, why choose one from the .nyc TLD? What makes it a better choice than a .com? Or selecting a descriptive TLD: a .lawyer for someone starting a law practice? And from a New Yorker’s perspective, what difference does it make if s/he receives predictable results from our city’s TLD?

The answer to all these questions is trust. While there are several factors that engender trust, to a large degree, it emerges organically from an intuitive TLD. Trust is engendered when one types a domain name and arrives at the expected resource. The simplest and quickest way for the .nyc TLD is to become trusted, is by setting standards that encourage an intuitive name space.

Let me detail the ways the high-bid auctions damage an intuitive and trusted TLD.

  • First, these are heritage names with a meaning that exists in the heads of New Yorkers. They should be providing the base for a more intuitive Internet both for New Yorkers and those seeking our resources. To the extent that they’re not part of an intuitive guidance system, they diminish the reliability of our city’s TLD.
  • Without public interest commitments guiding their use, city residents may utilize these names only at the whim and will of the auction winners.
  • Without public interest commitments, the winning bidders may use them for non-conforming use. The winner of Brownstones.nyc can use the name for a bar, a band, or whatever. If Brownstones.nyc doesn’t tell tourists about our brownstones, it reduces consistency and damages the TLD.
  • Without public interest commitments, selling development rights to our heritage names is like giving control of our street signs to an advertising agency.
  • Without public interest commitments, the winners may leave the names idle, or “parked” in industry parlance. More than 1/2 of .nyc names are currently parked or without content.

Having established public interest commitments for the neighborhood names, and benefited from its 200 year experience with street grids – predictability and ease of navigation – I find it disheartening that the city government has not chosen to follow the winning pattern.

If the auctions continue as is, they will discourage direct, intuitive (type-in) access, making New York’s resources less accessible – finding them will require a search engine. This will diminish our capacity to shape our city and shift it into the hands of Google-like entities.

Beyond its impact on the viability of our TLD, the de Blasio Administration is missing the opportunity to fulfill its commitment to foster opportunities for minorities and women. While the city has indicated a willingness to make some reserved names available for public interest uses, its resource commitment to advance the idea has been inadequate. Similarly, the promised 30 day notification for these heritage auctions doesn’t provide an adequate opportunity to organize hackathons and other networking events that might enable innovative ideas to emerge from our disparate communities.

#StopTheAuctions

This was the first of what might be 25 high-bid auctions for 500 heritage names. The city should stop the auctions and take steps to improve this phase of the name allocation process. Allocating 500 heritage names without associated Public Interest Commitments will cripple .nyc’s intuitive operation, diminish public trust, and reduce the utility and usage of our city’s TLD.

We’ve made several improvement recommendations in a previous post. Today we’re recommending that the city cancel the auctions, and negotiate a settlement with the contractor for its expected revenue. Auction #1 has provided a basis for estimating that settlement.

—–
Thomas Lowenhaupt is the founding director of Connecting.nyc Inc., a NYS nonprofit education organization advancing the operation of the .nyc TLD as a public interest resource. His 2001 Internet Empowerment Resolution sparked the city’s acquisition of the .nyc TLD. Two years ago the Internet Society of New York and Connecting.nyc sponsored a panel on the allocation of these “premium” domain names. See a report on that meeting here.

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#StopTheAuctions

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stoptheauctionsJackson Hts., New York, October 5, 2016 –  There were highs and lows in city hall’s rollout of the .nyc TLD last month. Early on we were cheered when we received notification that our application for the JacksonHeights.nyc domain name had been approved. And with the de Blasio Administration committed to putting the city’s 350+ neighborhood domain names under the control of local residents, we began to imagine that our decade-old vision of an “intuitive” city Internet might materialize; where one would find informative presentations of our city’s art galleries at artgalleries.nyc, find banks at banks.nyc, and locate a church at churches.nyc. And with each such directory a bonus would arrive: the opportunity for a New Yorker to form a new small business.

But our confidence plummeted when the city’s contractor announced that a high-bid auction was to be held on October 24 for 20 domain names:

  • Apartments.nyc
  • Construction.nyc
  • Kitchen.nyc
  • Renovation.nyc
  • Brokers.nyc
  • Furniture.nyc
  • Lease.nyc
  • Roommates.nyc
  • Brownstones.nyc
  • Garden.nyc
  • Living.nyc
  • Rentals.nyc
  • Condos.nyc
  • Homes.nyc
  • Lofts.nyc
  • Studios.nyc
  • CoOps.nyc
  • Interiors.nyc
  • RealEstate.nyc
  • Sublet.nyc

These are the first of what might ultimately be 3,000 auctioned names, many of which are vital to the realization of that intuitive city and the utility of the TLD.

The basis of our disappointment is epitomized by the hotels.nyc domain name. It’s reasonable to assume that, in a high-bid auction, an entity such as the Hilton Corporation, with deep pockets and 30 hotels in or near the city, will win. When this occurs two associated outcomes can be predicted with reasonable certainty: a traveler looking to hotels.nyc for a city hotel would assuredly be provided with a highly skewed view of the city’s 250+ hotels (a Hilton perhaps?). And a comprehensive listing of hotels, perhaps creatively mixed to include an AirBnB-like listing, fashioned by a local entrepreneur will never materialize.

With our being awarded the license for JacksonHeights.nyc, we have a big stake in this development: If people come to believe that hotels.nyc and other such civic infrastructure names are in essence offering “biased directories,” what hope is there that they will come to trust that JacksonHeights.nyc presents the considered and collaborative intelligence of its neighborhood namesake?

To summarize, the city has established a workable model to guide the allocation of the neighborhood names, requiring detailed public interest commitments (PICs) from those interested in the rights to their development. Further, those awarded neighborhood name must return every three years to demonstrate they’ve met their PICs. In contrast, the plan for auctioning hundreds, perhaps thousands of these civicly important names does not require any PICs from the auction winners. And there’s no review process whatsoever, with the names issued virtually forever.

#StopTheAuctions

If the city sticks with the high-bid auction (a holdover from the Bloomberg Administration), several negatives will result.

  • Our opportunity to establish .nyc as a managed and trusted TLD, a safe port if you will, will be severely diminished.
  • We’ll loose the opportunity to provide access to these new resources to capital starved entities. The local flavor and creativity will suffer.
  • We’ll loose an opportunity to bolster our digital self reliance. We’ll remain dependent on distant search engines to filter and present our digital resources.

The city should stop the auctions and follow these steps to improve the name allocation process.

  • City Hall should establish a public policy that facilitates the identification and development of civicly valuable domain names.
  • Considering the economic and aggregation benefits that arise with a well managed and trusted digital resource, it should categorize the 3,000 names: those that can be auctioned immediately, names for negotiated allocation (like the neighborhood names), and names that have PICs and are destined for high-bid auction. (Here’s a start.)
  • The city’s Department of Small Business Services should do outreach to small and minority businesses and empower them to participate in these auctions by sponsoring hackathons, networking events, loans, credits…

The city should begin governing the .nyc TLD as a common that belongs to all New Yorkers. While Mayor de Blasio has taken some commendable steps, e.g., the neighborhood names and a nexus policy that restricts ownership to New Yorkers, success requires an investment. The city should immediately re-establish its .NYC Community Advisory Board and enable meaningful public engagement in the auctions, and deal with issues such as abandoned names, idle names, WHOIS, rates, and consumer protections.

Longer term, the city charter needs to be revised to reflect the Internet’s existence.

—–
Thomas Lowenhaupt is the founding director of Connecting.nyc Inc., a NYS nonprofit education organization advancing the operation of the .nyc TLD as a public interest resource. His 2001 Internet Empowerment Resolution sparked the city’s acquisition of the .nyc TLD. Two years ago the Internet Society of New York and Connecting.nyc sponsored a panel on the allocation of these “premium” domain names. See a report on that meeting here.

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