It’s a little thing, but I just gotta love it when users, unsatisfied with “official” information provided by an institution, take matters into their own hands. Check out JustRoutes. The site grew out of the creators’ “frustration at [the] frankly, rather anarchic public transport system [in Dublin]. Seeing that information about bus rail and luas within Dublin was poorly collated and presented it was clear that a new approach was needed, thus was born.” Their approach seems to involve traveling every public transportation route in the Dublin area with a GPS unit in hand, tracking the route, and then mashing the data with a Google map. (The feature that allows you to pinpoint your start and endpoint is very cool, btw. Why isn’t that a feature on “vanilla” Google Maps?)

Last week, I presented with Rob Ponjsajapan of Georgetown University and DTLT’s own Andy Rush about social media (and the philosophies and concepts behind it) to a group from the College Communicators Association of Virginia and D.C. One of the messages was that institutions need to abandon the notion that they can (and should) “control” all the information about their business. These days it’s just too easy for users to take matters into their own hands. And, quite frankly, users are usually a whole lot better at defining what they need in terms of information, and, with the way technology eases the mashing, presentation, and sharing of content, they are poised to contribute something meaningful.

The real lesson, in my mind, for institutions is to pay attention to what all those users are doing. There’s also an important lesson here for students. How many of our students realize that they have this kind of power?

And, once again, I found this cool site via Emily Chang’s ehub.

One thought on “Remapping”

  1. It was awesome working with you and Andy last week, and I’d love to continue some of the conversations we started!

    Your Crimson Connect example for the “authenticity” slides was spot-on—when students or staff are frustrated by not being able to accomplish certain tasks via institutional tools, they’re going to say, “This is stupid—[insert freely available tool here] allows me to do this, so I’ll just build it myself and open it up to other folks who might get some use out of it.” They don’t care about why an institution can’t provide a particular tool or service. There’s an increasing disconnect between what can be done using freely available web services and what institutions are able to provide.

    I wanted to point you to an post by Derek Powazek that I’d intended to use in Friday’s session but didn’t get around to discussing. Here’s a quote from Powazek’s post:

    “People have been posting product suggestions, customer support, and personal biographies to the net since its invention. But for a long time the net has been considered this “other place,” disconnected from the real world. These sites show what an outdated notion that is. The web is no more a separate virtual world than the phone network is … I think sites like these also signal a shift in the balance of power. Companies (and even people) no longer have a choice about their participation on the web. We are having the conversation now, whether you like it or not.”

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