Quantifying communities

Although I write pretty much exclusively about publishing, I try to read more broadly. A change of pace is often helpful in focusing my thinking about publishing topics, and much of what happens in the world ultimately affects or is reflected in published works.

One example is a post, “How citizen diplomacy can help communities innovate”, that Andy Cutler wrote earlier this year. In it, Cutler describes incipient efforts to link Providence, Rhode Island and Copenhagen, Denmark as two smaller, sister cities.

Cutler makes a case for thinking of smaller cities as useful vehicles for this kind of change:

Smaller cities understand and work within the confines of their size each and every day. Size matters, and smaller cities have the power to enlist professional (and personal) networks in order to bolster ideation and ultimately create meaningful change quicker than their larger counterparts.

The Providence-Copenhagen initiative has several goals (adapted here from Cutler’s post):

  1. Find new ways to engage student populations
  2. Create new forms of arts and cultural exchanges
  3. Foster student and professional exchanges
  4. Leverage existing events and conferences
  5. Enhance the quality of interaction of cities by opening new channels of understanding and information sharing
  6. Explore new economic development opportunities

Without saddling a new effort with too many competing priorities, I might expand the fifth point a bit.

“Opening new channels of understanding and information sharing” would benefit from an explicit consideration of Esther Dyson’s “quantified community” movement. Building journalistic enterprises into trusted sources of local information is an idea that could improve both news organizations and the communities they serve.

About Brian O'Leary

Founder and principal of Magellan Media Consulting, Brian O’Leary helps enterprises with media and publishing components capitalize on the power of content. A veteran of more than 30 years in the publishing industry and a prolific content producer himself, Brian leverages the breadth and depth of his experience to deliver innovative content solutions.

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