Okay, in theory, this all sounds great. Advances in mobile technology and social media have democratized both the generation of and access to data, and this democratization strengthens political accountability. We’re not just talking about the people out there who have the will and time to spout things into the blogosphere, we’re talking everybody who has ten seconds and a smart phone. A new era in governance. Sounds great. But can you give me a concrete example of how this plays out?
Mom Maps. It started with a Bay Area mom who wanted to keep a database of kid-friendly places to share as a resource with other moms. It became an iPhone app. Then its smart phone platform acquired a dynamic dimension that allowed moms to rate places and discuss changes as they occurred. It became crowd-sourced vigilance, a way to monitor in real-time whether or not public spaces are kid-friendly. Moms started using the app, and a conversation started to emerge about broken glass in playgrounds, swings that had become defunct, shady characters and drug use in the area. And the city started to listen. Hear Jill Seman’s story about the panhandle park in San Francisco here.