LocalWiki: An Insider's Guide to Cities

If you want to know something about Davis, CA, don’t go to the website of the local paper or the city, go to DavisWiki, a repository of all things Davis, written by the public. Thanks to a recent grant, could something similar be coming to your town?

Eight years ago, UC Davis students Philip Neustrom and Mike Ivanov launched DavisWiki to collect "somewhere in cyberspace" all of the information about the campus and surrounding city bound up in people's memories and experiences. They intended to not only preserve and share their knowledge of Davis, but also to leave the website open for the community to provide their input. Emily Badger writes, "[a]nd then the whole concept took off, with Davis residents relishing the opportunity to contribute what they knew."

"It's the most comprehensive, hyperlocal thing ever," says Neustrom. "One in six people there visit it every day," adds Badger. "It has 18,000 pages now, about which businesses have bathroom changing tables, where to find all-you-can-eat buffets, and how to dodge a Davis zombie attack." Thanks to a grant from the Knight News Challenge, LocalWiki, the software behind DavisWiki, is now being developed so that other cities can start their own wikis. The Raleigh-Durham Triangle, Oakland, Ann Arbor, and even Antarctica have already taken part in the project.

Reid Serozi, who's leading the Raleigh-Durham site, "suspects that something happens to a community when it possesses all of this knowledge about itself. Maybe people will become more involved with their neighbors, or with programs they didn't realize existed. Participating in a virtual, live story-telling about your town implies that you may take more ownership of it, too."

Thanks to Jessica Hsu

Full Story: A Crowdsourced Hyperlocal City Guide, Coming To You Soon


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