"New York" entries
A joint effort by New York City, San Francisco, and Yelp brings government health data into Yelp reviews.
One of the key notions in my “Government as a Platform” advocacy has been that there are other ways to partner with the private sector besides hiring contractors and buying technology. One of the best of these is to provide data that can be used by the private sector to build or enrich their own citizen-facing services. Yes, the government runs a weather website but it’s more important that data from government weather satellites shows up on the Weather Channel, your local TV and radio stations, Google and Bing weather feeds, and so on. They already have more eyeballs and ears combined than the government could or should possibly acquire for its own website.
That’s why I’m so excited to see a joint effort by New York City, San Francisco, and Yelp to incorporate government health inspection data into Yelp reviews. I was involved in some early discussions and made some introductions, and have been delighted to see the project take shape.
My biggest contribution was to point to GTFS as a model. Bibiana McHugh at the city of Portland’s TriMet transit agency reached out to Google, Bing, and others with the question: “If we came up with a standard format for transit schedules, could you use it?” Google Transit was the result — a service that has spread to many other U.S. cities. When you rejoice in the convenience of getting transit timetables on your phone, remember to thank Portland officials as well as Google. Read more…
A centrist New Yorker finds a reason to cast his vote strategically.
I’m writing this from an hour-long polling line on the Upper West Side, where no political races will be remotely competitive this year. The presence of so many people willing to put up with the inconvenience of a long wait to cast a vote that’s unlikely to make a difference is inspiring, but under conditions like this one my mind tends in a cynical direction, and when I go cynical I start to think about voting Republican.
That temptation comes not from the party’s position on FEMA or climate change, its willingness to force legislative cliffhangers rather than compromise, or its alertness on issues as diverse as Barack Obama’s birth certificate and the war on Christmas.
Rather, the temptation arises from this map, which shows the concentration of political influence in just a small handful of “battleground” states. Mitt Romney and Barack Obama have together visited Ohio 75 times. They’ve visited New York 24 times, almost all of which were fundraisers and media appearances. The political cycle, and the issues it chews over, are calculated to excite voters in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida — hence a focus this year on industrial offshoring and retiree health care. Political campaigns use the same big-data approaches that any clever startup or retail chain would use to segment voters and target them directly. Undecided voters in swing states have enormous leverage. The rest of us have been mostly segmented out of the process.
As much as I hope Obama will win today’s election, I’m tempted by the thought that my vote — which is practically certain to have no impact on the outcome of any election today — might be better spent strategically in making New York a slightly more competitive political arena. Read more…
A few early and broad questions in our exploration of NYC's startup community.
Since the crisis of 2008 New York City’s massive financial sector — the city’s richest economic engine, once seen to have unlimited potential for growth — has languished. In the meantime, attention has turned to its nascent startup sector, home to Foursquare, Tumblr, 10gen, Etsy and Gilt, where VC investment has surged even as it’s been flat in other big U.S. tech centers (PDF).
I’ve started to poke around the tech community here with a view toward eventually publishing a paper on the rise of New York’s startup scene. In my initial conversations, I’ve come up with a few broad questions I’ll focus on, and I’d welcome thoughts from this blog’s legion of smart readers on any of these.
- How many people in New York’s startup community came from finance, and under what conditions did they make the move? In 2003, Google was a five-year-old, privately-held startup and Bear Stearns was an 80-year-old pillar of the financial sector. Five years later, Google was a pillar of the technical economy and among the world’s biggest companies; Bear Stearns had ceased to exist. Bright quantitatively-minded people who might have pursued finance for its stability and lucre now see that sector as unstable and not necessarily lucrative; its advantage over the technology sector in those respects has disappeared. Joining a 10-person startup is very different from taking a job at Google, but the comparative appeal of the two sectors has dramatically shifted.
- To what degree have anchor institutions played a role in the New York startup scene? The relationship between Stanford University and Silicon Valley is well-documented; I’d like to figure out who’s producing steady streams of bright technologists in New York. Google’s Chelsea office, opened in 2006, now employs close to 3,000 people, and its alumni include Dennis Crowley, founder of Foursquare. That office is now old enough that it can generate a high volume of spin-offs as Googlers look for new challenges. And Columbia and NYU (and soon a Cornell-Technion consortium) have embraced New York’s startup community.
William Gibson's apt predictions, why C matters, and a vote against lightweight DRM.
This week on O'Reilly: James Turner noted that the corporate dystopia predicted in "Neuromancer" has come to pass, author David Griffith discussed C's continued popularity, and Joe Wikert explained why lightweight ebook DRM isn't viable.
A judge has dismissed lawsuits from Amazon and Overstock.com challenging New York's "Amazon tax," which was enacted last year. From the Associated Press: The law applies to companies that don't have offices in New York, but have at least one person in the state who works as an online agent — someone who links to a Web site and receives…
July New York Tech Meetup runs from changing the world gratis to shameless consumerism, and even some of both.