Mapping Hilton

The OpenStreetMap of Hilton currently looks like this:

Which is pretty good, considering some parts of Perth; but it could be much better. So I’ve downloaded some Walking Papers (it’s rather an easy way to get a map printed on a grid of individual pages, along with an index page; here, there’s seventeen A4 pages all up):

Walking Papers screen capture

And shall print them, and (once the rain’s buggered off again) shall walk the streets (probably dropping off a few of the Freo Society’s new brochures along the way), clipboard, pen, and camera in hand, and fill in whatever’s missing.

Take that, Google Earth! (Hmm, yes, possibly not the most smashing blow to the forces of privatised data, but one likes to do one’s bit, eh?! Especially as it’ll culminate in a nice coffee at Figo’s.)

The launch of Freospace

I’ve just returned from the official launch of Freospace, the council’s new publishing platform for precincts (not to be too alliterative about it or anything), at the North Fremantle bowling club. It’s a collection of blogs, one for each precinct, to which precinct members can post news and whatnot—mostly minutes of meetings so far, but it’s early days—and on which anyone in the community can comment.

I’ve written about Freospace before, but of course now it’s all public and ready to use, there’s a few more things to mention:

  • They’re using WordPress, with the multi-site feature enabled. The choice of this is almost too obvious and sensible to mention, because if someone is setting out to create any sort of group of blogs, WPMU (or whatever they’re calling it these days) is likely to be at the top of the list. It’s just that when it comes to government, one can’t take sensible decisions to be inevitable (don’t take that the wrong way!).

  • It’s not completely open-slather: user registration is closed, so the hoi polloi aren’t able to post news—but they can post comments on anything, and I’d imagine that anyone wanting to get involved would be able to do so pretty easily. Far better getting involved with this sort of community-web stuff face-to-face, anyway, I reckon. Keeping it all online isn’t necessary when we all live so close!

    Which is an interesting point: the precinct group meetings seem to still be the focus of engaging with Freospace—but again, that may change, as people get involved who mightn’t be so keen on the meetings. Get ye along to freospace.com.au!

  • There’s lots of talk about ‘conversations’ and these blogs enabling community collaboration and whatnot. Which is great, but I can’t help but feel that ultimately this is about community relating to Council, who are still somehow separate and in the position (within this framework at any rate) of power. I don’t mean that in a negative way, really; just that this doesn’t strike me as being the online equivalent of the noticeboard at the shops. The element of anachism, or collective ownership, is possibly missing. I might be wrong about this. Freospace seems more part of the mechanism of representative democracy, a fantastic way for us all to meld our ideas and reach a better understanding of the “will of the demos” or something. It’s not somewhere to post your announcements about lost cats or upcoming book club meetings.

All up, I think Freospace is brilliant, and absolutely in the right (technical, and social) direction. Thank Stallman that the Council didn’t see fit to use Friendface or Ning, or some other ridiculous silo’d means of communication!


Update: I’ve just noticed that not all Freospace sites are active yet: O’Connor, South Fremantle, and White Gum Valley seem to still need a bit of love!

The awards night

Just home from the WA Heritage Awards, where the Freo Society won the community based organisation category (which surely they should’ve hyphenated?). Nice evening, jolly exciting—despite a fair bit of a gosh-this-is-middle-class-Perth feeling—makes me glad to be part of it nonetheless.

It was good to be there, also, because my grandmother Marnie (aka H. Margaret Wilson), won the inaugural state heritage award in 1992. It makes me miss her, and wish she were around to talk to about all this stuff…

FreoWiki is go! (Or GoFreo is a wiki?)

We had a great gathering last night at Little Creatures to talk about FreoWiki (including what to call it; one suggestion is GoFreo). Some topics…

  • It’s all set up and good to go, at http://freo.org.au/;
  • The site overall is licenced under CC Attribution 2.5 Australia, but people can put whatever licences they want on individual pages or media;
  • Some ideas are being bounced around about alternatives to FreoWiki as a name;
  • The Fremantle Herald might be interested in adding their archival content to FreoWiki—at the moment they’re only keeping the four most recent editions on their site, and we could host a complete archive;
  • Personal, first-person content is desirable: people’s recollections of Fremantle, or visions for its future;
  • The entry page needs to look good, and (visually) convey what it’s all about;
  • We’ll make cards to hand out to people, with some small bit of info about FreoWiki, and a URL with a blank after it (i.e. freo.org.au/_____________) in which we can write the name of the page that we’re suggesting people use; e.g. to a business owner, with the name of their business (then we scurry home and quickly add some content to that page);
  • Good thought needs to be given to ways of ensuring longevity of the project (if it takes off), both technical (backups etc.) and organisational;
  • We should enable using media from Commons (already done);
  • Plus lots of other stuff that I can’t right now remember!

So now it’s time to start adding content! :-) The easy bit, really.

On saving bits of the web (but not why it’s worth it)

172 doomed BBC websites saved by one geek, for $3.99 [Local archive]

I used to not bother saving anything that I read on the web, figuring that it was all either insignificant ephemera or would be there forever. Now, I save whatever takes my fancy — not aiming at comprehensiveness (of course! I’m not the IA) — and stick it up wherever seems fitting (Wikisource, if it fits there, or one of my own sites).

Of course, there’s no guarantee that *my* copies of this stuff will survive, but that’s why *everyone* should save the things they think are interesting. That way, there’s multiple copies (hmm, which reminds me of LOCKSS), and it also gives some insight into the person doing the saving — personal archives are often more interesting than institutional…

Wikipedia meetup in Freo

(I might be two days late with the birthday wishes, but that’s only because I’ve been too busy partying…)

On Saturday afternoon more than a dozen Wikipedians turned up to Little Creatures to raise a toast to ten years of Wikipedia. There was beer, t-shirts, discussions of intricacies of Wikipedia (none of which, for once, had to be prefaced with an explanation of what the flippin’ deal is with editing), and a broadside infiltration from — of all things — a Reddit crew who had heard about the free swag.

So happy birthday to Wikipedia, and thank you to everyone who came on Saturday for rekindling my enthusiasm for all this. I’m excited about the possibilities for some sort of collaboration between the Fremantle Society and Wikimedia projects. (More on that, later.)

Freo on the web

I am trying to get my head around all of the various places that Fremantle features (regularly, topically) on the Web. I want to figure out where the Fremantle Society’s website fits in, and what it might be used for (what might be missing from elsewhere).

So I started from the outside, yesterday, and moved inwards…

  1. Wikipedia, a first port of call for general info about anywhere, gives a reasonable overview to Freo from an outsider’s perspective. The Fremantle category has the subcategories show in the graph at right (which comes from the catgraph tool by User:Dapete). Obviously, this categorisation isn’t complete, and needs to be improved to reflect what’s actually important in Freo. (More on this later…)

  2. Next, there’s the Council’s website, fremantle.wa.gov.au, which has recently undergone a redesign, and is looking… umm… well, there’s lots of great information for residents and whatnot! There is a news feed, and a calendar of upcoming events (which I’d link to, but it’s a JS overlay thing that doesn’t seem to have it’s own URL). There are plans for new web-based methods of communication with constituents: firstly via a CRM for interacting with Council (for the general public? or just precinct committees?); and secondly (and I think this is going to be separate from the CRM) a network of community-group/precinct websites, called FREOSPACE. This is akin, perhaps, to the Cockburn Community Portal.

    I got my information about these plans from the presentation that Jen Valesini (Coordinator of the Fremantle Volunteer Service; is that right? perhaps not; anyway, she was part of the Precinct Review) gave to last week’s Freo Society meeting; and the Precinct Group Report.

  3. Then, there’s a host of topical and personal blogs: Adele Carles, State MP for Fremantle, Brad Pettitt, Fremantle’s Mayor, Cyclefreo, Dismantle, FERN, the Fremantle Environment Resource Centre, Freo Tribe, the blog of the Fremantle Society, Freo’s View, Tom M. Wilson, Love Freo, Melissa Parke, Federal MP for Fremantle, and The Painted Fish. There are more. I’ve started collecting a list of these as a ‘Freo Planet’ (to use that possibly-too-geeky term for an aggregation of news feeds); the planet itself has a news feed, the idea being that one could subscribe to just one source to get all Freo news.

There’s more to be looked at, but in a general sense I think there is room for a ‘reference’ website about Fremantle. An open site for the stories and detail of Freo, rather like Wikipedia but with ‘non-notable’ topics permitted (not notable in a global perspective, that is). Somewhere that will record, preserve, and make available the minutiae of what goes on here. Is the Freo Society the best organisation to provide this? I don’t know. I’m talking about something more than just the straight ‘history’ of the City (for that one might say that the Local History Centre would be the best coordinator). This would be a site that accepts photos of caravans on South Beach in the ’40s as well as contemporary cafe reviews. It would have a comprehensive calendar of events, and essays on life in Fremantle…

Perhaps I’m getting a bit carried away. Certainly it’s time to stop writing, and head down to Kulcha….

WordPress TwentyTen theme ported to MediaWiki

Last week I needed a simple, reader-focused skin for a MediaWiki install, and I figured WordPress’ TwentyTen theme would be suitable. So I ported it to MediaWiki.

The skin can be downloaded from Github, and I’ve also added it to the MediaWiki gallery of user styles.