I went to the NetSquaredDC (www.net2dc.com) event last night at the Google DC headquarters — nice officespace, but it was even niftier in the conference area we used. They were serving fruit and fondue (as well as the more standard vegetables and spread) in a large space with huge (perhaps 50-60″?) flat screens lining the walls and two projectors on the front wall, all wired to the same source — maximum viewing potential. It was great to be in Google’s space — I had done a blog posting on Google’s opposition to the California ballot measure that would end marriage for same-sex couples there earlier that day (Google’s statement actually came in the form of a solid statement from co-founder Sergey Brin).
At any rate, we were treated to a presentation by Kristen Taylor of the Knight Foundation (relation to Knight Ridder) on their Knight News Challenge, which is an impressively aggressive grant opportunity for individuals interested in open-source-based media innovation that serves a geographic community. If you’re curious where media is headed in the 21st century, definitely check out some of the previous winning projects.
The one project that Kristen happened to show us was EveryBlock, a dynamic aggregator of various forms of information specific or relevant to your actual street and close surroundings, starting with the most recent happenings including police reports, city service calls, restaurant and store reviews, and Flickr photos.
Interestingly, the first thing I noticed and decided to click on was a local blog posting describing a shooting/homicide literally just one block north of me on Sunday, which I happened to pass by on my way home from the gym. Turns out the blog is devoted to safe streets in my neighborhood (8 block radius?). Funny, I didn’t think our streets were that bad, compared to elsewhere in DC.
Clearly, this goes far beyond the mashup I blogged about years ago that combined police blotter info and Google Maps (which I think has long since vanished, or I’d link to it). I’m hooked already.
Interestingly, EveryBlock hasn’t yet made its platform open-source, but has somehow still gotten the Knight Foundation’s blessing because they’ve promised to do so “when it’s completed.” When is something like this ever complete, as compared to a constant work in progress like everything else on the web?