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Hack Your Town

“If guns are about power, then hacking is about secret knowledge, and knowledge is also power.” – Charlie Stross in The Fear Factory

“Live so that when your children think of fairness and integrity, they think of you.” – H. Jackson Brown

Chicago Trib news app developer leaves Chicago and moves to small town of Tyler, Texas to be a responsible parent. Instead of mostly moaning about life in the boondocks (and, unlike D and me, who used to simply leave Smalltown Ohio for other actual cities), said developer uses his experience to “improve the things [he doesn’t] like, either through application of will or technology or both.” Enter Hack Tyler.

Tyler has information that could be freed. Tyler has government that could be opened. Tyler has news that could be hacked. Moreover, Tyler has an almost completely unexploited market. There are no hackers there. The small number of high-tech businesses that exist in the region are either web development shops serving local businesses or robotics companies.

… Is this all going to go off without a hitch? Not a chance. I expect to spend many nights being painfully underwhelmed with the place and with myself, but this is the best way I know how to deal with it.

So far, Christopher Groskopf (@onyxfish) has changed Tyler’s bus transit system from an online PDF to Tyler On Time. And then the city announced they are overhauling the system and routes with it. While (I guess) that project is on hold, Groskopf is now looking at what to do with the city’s demographic and other data.

To be honest, what grabs me about Hack Tyler is not at all Future Boy Brings Fire To Australopithecus And Amuses Himself In Process, but this guy’s surrender to his circumstances as a divorced father. Once you make that decision to be present in your reality and your child’s life, keeping yourself occupied, going and useful comes with the territory, I suppose. And he admits that it is terribly hard. Good parents have always been a heartening puzzle to me – they selfishly procreate and then spend the rest of their lives willing to give those very lives for their children if necessary. When the aliens come and ask why we must be spared, I will point towards parents. That will keep them busy.

What also tickles me is this statement from the O’Reilly Radar interview: “Texas has a history of transparency projects that I was unaware of.” We’re working on cool projects NO ONE KNOWS ABOUT. Solid. Also, no one tell Rick Perry.

1 comment… add one
  • 3Suns September 7, 2011, 7:03 PM

    Outstanding post. I will be forwarding this one along.

    P.S. Tyler On Time is brilliant, and would be very handy from a smart phone I am sure. Here is a similarly elegant, while admittedly much less complex, time zone “calculator”.

    http://everytimezone.com/

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