In July 2005, we need to publicize the HistoricMississippiCommunityNetwork. Please offer ideas about how best to accomplish this. Some things to consider:
We want to contact:
- Network users
- Potential hosts for additional roof nodes
- Potential content providers
- Potential technical contributors
- People interested in learning how to manage the network
Mississippi Street Fair
The Fair is August 13th from 10AM to 7PM (setup begins at 8AM).
We'll need folks to man our table and demonstrate the wifi connection, and hopefully(!) some network services.
Give People what they Want
Pre Script: (This whole debate seriously begs the question as to why no one at PTP has bothered to send a questionnaire to people who actually live in the MGP area. Are we really the technician-patriarch-gods of what is best for people? I mean, just because we set the hardware up doesn't mean we can read peoples' minds and/or know what is best for them. Why not ask them what they want? That said, the ideas below are what I personally would find useful as a person who lives in a neighborhood. You know, trying to get into people's heads a little, as opposed to voicing the tired old party line about "forums." Please feel free to add things that you believe people would actually USE, WANT, NEED and LIKE.)
I like the survey approach. Perhaps we should make little surveys (post-card sized) that are addressed and stamped for our P.O. Box. Then we could put these in coffee shops, local businesses, bring them to events, etc. Of course, we could do a web-based survey, but that may be putting the cart before the horse a little bit. -CalebPhillips
There seems to be some debate on how to get people involved in MGP Node. One group believes if an online community "meeting place" is made available, people will flock to it (an "if you build it they will come" mentality). The other group responds "wtf...lame?"
I think both are right. Simply building a community portal by saying, "yo! Here is something where you can write!" is naive and doesn't consider what people want ... and well ... wtf? A person can post a flier or call their neighbors if they want to talk - there is nothing inherent in such a system that the Internet does better. So why would they turn to the Internet for a forum that a couple of dozen people right next door are reading? They wouldn't. It doesn't make sense.
What the project needs to do to succeed, then, is offer things that people in a neighborhood routinely find themselves wishing they had, solving common local annoyances, building a system that otherwise couldn't be built, etc. We must ask ourselves "what do people WANT that they ARE NOT getting elsewhere?" How does the Internet solve certain things better than traditional methods?
Easy access to menus. I am lazy. I am not going to walk to every place in the city personally collecting menus. But by god, when I have a hypoglycemic attack, I want one on hand. Making menus available online would be awesome - business owners could even update their own. AlexisTurner
A list of restaurants within a mile radius. I also like to go out to eat. A lot. Sadly a lot. Citysearch-like sites are frustrating - the interface stinks and there is to much info to be meaningful. A page populated with minimal (name, address, phone, delivery, outside link to more info) citysearch data just for my neighborhood, however, and that looks pretty and is easy to read would sure be handy. AlexisTurner
Community radio station. I believe that others should be subjected to my musical taste so that they can see the light. Everyone else in the world also believes this about themselves. Community radio is expensive, illegal, and only works in a limited range...but not on the Internet. The Internet makes community radio possible as an outlet that people would not otherwise have. (On the plus traditional-activist-rhetoric side, it teaches people how to produce things, not just consume them, through active involvement.) AlexisTurner
Hours for businesses. Self-explanatory. AlexisTurner
Traffic-cam. This may be moot somewhere as small as Mississippi, but I know downtown it would be nice to know whether there is a protest (oops, I mean traffic jam) happening before I head out the door. AlexisTurner
Bulletin board. One-stop-shop for those omnipresent, tree-killing, old old old fliers that every coffee shop seems to have. A person can upload a (ad, concert, event, lost animal, drug induced paranoid rant, etc) flier with an expiration date, title, and type of flier. Voila!...the flier goes away when it is outdated. People can choose what type of fliers to look at/ignore. It appears in all locations that connect to the node, not just one or two. (Alexis Turner) Perhaps items should expire after some time too? This sounds alot like CraigsList, and maybe it isn't a good idea to re-invent the wheel here? (CalebPhillips)
Suggestion box. Once a handful of useful things have been put up and people start using the site, they will come up with their own ideas for what is important to them. AlexisTurner
I think if we create a portal that provides these things that the larger Internet does not provide as well/at all, people will use it and enjoy it. But simply duplicating efforts that have been done elsewhere is folly.
Comment on Alexis's ideas: Other than the traffic cams and radio stations, we've offered something that will do all those things. No business, other than the ReBuilding Center, has used it so far, despite many invitations to do so. Which is not to say that those are bad ideas. They are great ideas, but I'm not sure how to convince people to use them.--MichaelWeinberg
The mantra of web development (depressingly) is "don't make me think." There's even a book out there with the title. For something to work on the web it has to be absurdly easy to figure out, it has to already exist (at least in beta form), and people have to know about it. So, if the place you are referring to is mississippi.personaltelco.net, then I don't see where the menus, etc exist, and this is probably why it hasn't caught on. All I see is an ugly page where it says that I can post bulletins, but, as a lowly user, I can't even figure out how to do that!
Also, once you have something kickin', force people to go to it by making it the first thing they see when they connect to the network. Splash page. --AlexisTurner