May 21, 2013
What do you propose we do about all the people who want to live in Cambridge?

There’s really only one question you need to ask people to understand whether they’re serious about Cambridge’s future or are posturing for reasons best known to themselves:

What do you propose to do about all the people who want to live in Cambridge?
It’s really a multiple choice question with 4 possible answers:
  1. nothing
  2. repel them at our borders
  3. convince them to live elsewhere
  4. build, to the best of our ability, to accommodate them

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February 21, 2012
Who says Harvard doesn’t have a sense of humor?
Alum William Falik gave Harvard $100,000 and said that, with his name, all he’s ever been able to get named for him was a restroom. Then Dean Elena Kagan took him up on it and, in the shiny new Wasserstein building up on the 2nd floor, is the Falik Mens Room.

Who says Harvard doesn’t have a sense of humor?

Alum William Falik gave Harvard $100,000 and said that, with his name, all he’s ever been able to get named for him was a restroom. Then Dean Elena Kagan took him up on it and, in the shiny new Wasserstein building up on the 2nd floor, is the Falik Mens Room.

January 31, 2012
Cambridge Information Technology Department Unable to Answer Basic Questions about its iReport App

Eight days ago, as part of preparing an NeighborMedia article on the iReport and MyPD apps, I asked Mary Hart, Chief Information Officer of the City of Cambridge some basic questions about the the app:

  • What’s the reaction been to the Cambridge iReport app?
  • What marketing has the city done to make citizens aware of
    the app? 
  • How many times has it been downloaded?
  • How many problems have been reported through it?
  • How has the app improved the delivery of city services?
  • Has the app decreased departments response time to problem reports? If so, by how much?
  • How much did this app cost the city?
  • Does the City own the source code to the app?
  • Are there plans to open up the API to allow other developers to find ways to add value?
  • You’ve recently added the reporting of unshoveled sidewalks to the app. What are your future plans for additional functionality?

If you walked through Kendall Square, knocked on the door of some mobile app startup company, and asked these questions, you’d get immediate answers. Someone would be living and breathing these numbers because they define the success of the effort.

In Cambridge, one of the core defenses of the management of the city is that its finances have been managed well. But, when it comes to the Information Technology budget, how would you know? Last year’s budget failed the basic test of informing the public of how its money is being spent. And public promises to open up IT planning have yet to be realized.

Not all of Cambridge is like this. The Police Department answered my (easier) questions in less than an hour and followed up to make sure I had what I needed.

I spend a lot of time in technology circles and they are astonished that Cambridge, home to MiT and Harvard, the birthplace of Facebook, with Microsoft and Google a major presence, does such a poor job with its own technology. We shouldn’t be astonished as the story is consistent and as plain as day.

January 30, 2012
"We don't need a business improvement district; we need a resident improvement district"

An interesting article from today’s New York Times about the effort to create a Business Improvement District in SOHO, NY. Central Square would be lucky to have some of the SOHO’s problems - too many tourists, too much retail - but the core concern, the aggregation of power and influence that would come with a BID, is something to consider when one thinks about changes to the Square.

January 29, 2012
Seen at the corner of Harvard and Prospect Streets, Cambridge MA.
So, how do you report this sort of thing?
The Cambridge iReport App doesn’t do Traffic and Parking signals, only potholes, rats, unshoveled sidewalks and missed trash pickups.
The Department of Traffic, Parking and Transportation (when did they add “Transportation”?) web site doesn’t list an email address. It does have some very specific online forms for reporting issues with traffic signs, traffic lights, and the like. And a general web form for reporting issues with the web site.
So I used that.
I really expect that the city I live in would be better than this.

Seen at the corner of Harvard and Prospect Streets, Cambridge MA.

So, how do you report this sort of thing?

The Cambridge iReport App doesn’t do Traffic and Parking signals, only potholes, rats, unshoveled sidewalks and missed trash pickups.

The Department of Traffic, Parking and Transportation (when did they add “Transportation”?) web site doesn’t list an email address. It does have some very specific online forms for reporting issues with traffic signs, traffic lights, and the like. And a general web form for reporting issues with the web site.

So I used that.

I really expect that the city I live in would be better than this.

January 20, 2012
Harvard Library Staff have a really bad week

Harvard Library staff have had a really bad week. And when the official clarification is that not all library staff will have to reapply for their jobs, you’re really not in a very good place at all.

 Cambridge - Harvard Square: Harvard University - Widener Libary

January 14, 2012
Irony.

Irony.

3:17pm  |   URL: http://tmblr.co/Z29gGwEmHU3G
  
Filed under: cambridge cambridgema 
January 11, 2012
After all the debate about Cambridge’s sign ordinance, all the concern about how, if adopted, it would ruin the Cambridge skyline, the talk about how one man, who didn’t want a Microsoft sign on the building in which he is tenant, and how he single handedly funded the signature drive that forced the City Council to reconsider, look what we have in Kendall Square, on a different building overlooking the Longfellow Bridge…
Yes, it’s a Microsoft sign.
Microsoft: well played.
Cambridge political process: you be the judge.
Phillip Ragon: probably looking up the meaning of pyrrhic victory.

After all the debate about Cambridge’s sign ordinance, all the concern about how, if adopted, it would ruin the Cambridge skyline, the talk about how one man, who didn’t want a Microsoft sign on the building in which he is tenant, and how he single handedly funded the signature drive that forced the City Council to reconsider, look what we have in Kendall Square, on a different building overlooking the Longfellow Bridge…

Yes, it’s a Microsoft sign.

Microsoft: well played.

Cambridge political process: you be the judge.

Phillip Ragon: probably looking up the meaning of pyrrhic victory.

January 7, 2012

Cambridge Winter Market at the Cambridge Community Center.

4:51pm  |   URL: http://tmblr.co/Z29gGwEQ8ZMS
  
Filed under: Cambridge CambridgeMA 
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