December 31, 2011

Changing gears

I've spent the last eight or so years writing this blog and getting involved in Dryden politics. I've run for offfice, chaired a party committee, and participated in many conversations.

I've learned a lot about Dryden's history, people, and neighborhoods. I've also watched people argue for a wide variety of contradictory proposals that they said they were doing because they valued history, people, and neighborhoods.

After all of this, I've concluded a few things:

  • Local political life is indeed much more interesting (and diverse) than the supposed "higher levels" of government.

  • People happily choose their own sets of 'facts', don't like to have those 'facts' challenged, and sometimes complicate things further by refusing to share their 'facts'.

  • "Listening" in political conversation usually means "I'm hearing you and can tell you what you said" rather than "I'm willing to change what I think based on what you think". People's opinions can and do change, often very slowly, but marshalling facts against strongly-held bad ideas rarely accomplishes much.

  • I'm fairly tired and have less time to share. That's largely thanks to having toddlers, of course!

All of this tells me that it's time to change what I've been doing. In this case, it means refocusing on two things:

Even more local emphasis

I still plan to stay involved in "Greater Dryden" conversations, but I joined the Varna Community Association board this month. I'll also be focusing more on the stretch of 366 where I live and the adjacent 13/366 overlap, as well as what I can do at my own house.

Data collection and analysis

Many conversations, especially those around traffic and other environmental impacts, would benefit from data that our governments just barely collect. Even when information is available (like census data), it often comes as either a flood or a trickle.

Right now, the most obvious place to see this in action is my weather station, which needs a more readable page and some additional tinkering - but is exactly minute-by-minute reporting of data regarding hyperlocal conditions.

I'd like to add a few things down by the road, like a weathercam so people can see road conditions before they leave the house. Ideally, I'd like to be able to do something like this daily report on traffic, though unfortunately that seems to have broken. I'd love to do similar things for air quality and radiation tracking, and make these kinds of tools available cheaply to a lot more people than the current primarily government market. (Safecast is a big inspiration here.)

There will be a lot more to come, and this blog probably won't change instantly, but that's a rough look behind and ahead.

Posted by simon at December 31, 2011 7:47 AM in
Note on photos


Randy said:

Whatever you do Simon, I'm sure it will be done well.

I've enjoyed checking in with your blog for years, even when I was living back in LA. Now that I'm more local again (4 years now) it is still an invaluable resource and often a joy.

Keep up the good (more focused) work!

Thanks for all you do - as a fairly new resident of the town having your blog in my reader has been a great way to start to get up to speed on the town.