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August 27 2013

A new school year begins in Chicago - World Socialist Web Site

A new school year begins in Chicago - World Socialist Web Site

A new school year begins in Chicago
By Jeff Lusanne and Kristina Betinis
27 August 2013

Chicago Public School (CPS) students return to school this week in a dramatically different environment. School closures and consolidations have resulted in longer commutes through dangerous areas, falling school enrollment and overcrowded classrooms. The deep cuts to school budgets have also resulted in barebones classroom instruction. Meanwhile, the district has still managed to award principals thousands of dollars in merit pay bonuses.

#états-unis #éducation #chicago

May 20 2013

Kaoru Arima: And Then. Queer Thoughts Gallery, Chicago

In Chicago, Queer Thoughts Gallery presents And Then, the first solo presentation in America by Japan-based artist Kaoru Arima. Arima was born in 1969 in Aichi, Japan. The artist has exhibited extensively in Japan at venues including Misako and Rosen (Tokyo), and was included in the group exhibition The Age of Micropop: The Next Generation of Japanese Artists at The Art Tower Mito (Mito). Arima has shown internationally with Galerie Dennis Kimmerich (Düsseldorf), in group shows at Galerie Catherine Bastide (Brussels), Bortolami (New York), the Walker Art Center (Minneapolis), the Carnegie Museum of Art (Pittsburgh) and Shane Campbell Gallery, Lincoln Park (Chicago).

For the solo show And Then, Kaoru Arima presents new paintings on canvas and works on paper. For Arima, the works represent a formal development from his continued series of drawings on whited-out newspapers.

Kaoru Arima: And Then. Solo exhibition at Queer Thoughts Gallery, Chicago. Opening reception, May 3, 2013. Video by Francisco Cordero-Oceguera.

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April 23 2013

Kate Levant: Inhuman Indifference / Monique Meloche Gallery, Chicago

Inhuman Indifference at Moniquemeloche Gallery in Chicago is artist Kate Levant’s first exhibition in her hometown. The exhibition features a body of work that is comprised of the artist’s latest material investigations into the functioning of objects and their properties.

Kate Levant was born in 1983 in Chicago, IL. The artist currently lives and works in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Levant is currently in her second year as artist-in-residence at the Rijksakademie. Her work was featured in the 2012 Whitney Biennial and included in other group exhibitions at the National Gallery of Zimbabwe (upcoming); The Island, organized by LAND /OHWOW Flagler Memorial Island, Miami; St. Joost Akademie, the Netherlands; Center for Creative Studies, Detroit; and Frontroom Gallery, Cleveland to name a few. Levant earned a BFA at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and an MFA at Yale University School of Art where she received the Susan H. Whedon Award in 2010.

Kate Levant: Inhuman Indifference at Moniquemeloche Gallery, Chicago. April 13, 2013. Video by Francisco Cordero-Oceguera.

> Right-click (Mac: ctrl-click) this link to download Quicktime video file.
> On YouTube:



April 18 2013

School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) MFA Show 2013

The MFA Show of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago is the culminating presentation of MFA Candidates and an opportunity for new and ambitious work to be presented to the public. For over four months a team of three distinguished Guest Curators and 12 Graduate Curatorial Fellows have spent hours in SAIC’s MFA graduate studios: engaging artists, viewing current work, and envisioning the culminating exhibition. This invested approach allows for dialogue, process, and collaborative decision-making to guide the curatorial teams as they work together with 108 participating artists to bring the MFA Show to fruition over time.

School of the Art Institute of Chicago MFA Show 2013. Opening reception, April 12, 2013. Video by Francisco Cordero-Oceguera.

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April 04 2013

Paralyzed Enchantment / New Works by Michael Madrigali and Oliver Henry at CourtneyBlades, Chicago

The exhibition Paralyzed Enchantment is the first show of the Chicago-based gallery CourtneyBlades after a major renovation. It features new works in painting and sculpture by the artists Michael Madrigali and Oliver Henry.

Michael Madrigali was born in Santa Barbara, CA. He currently lives and works in Chicago. He will complete his BFA at the School Art Institute of Chicago spring 2013. Recent group exhibitions include Salmagundi (Alcatraz), Gif Shop (Courtney Blades) and Tilt Shift (Sullivan Galleries).

Oliver Henry was born in Melbourne, Au. in 1990. The artist lives and works in Chicago. He has just returned from a second research expedition to Marfa, TX.

Paralyzed Enchantment / New Works by Michael Madrigali and Oliver Henry at CourtneyBlades, Chicago. Opening reception, March 29, 2013. Video by Francisco Cordero-Oceguera.

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> On YouTube:



March 19 2013

The City of Chicago wants you to fork its data on GitHub

GitHub has been gaining new prominence as the use of open source software in government grows.

Earlier this month, I included a few thoughts from Chicago’s chief information officer, Brett Goldstein, about the city’s use of GitHub, in a piece exploring GitHub’s role in government.

While Goldstein says that Chicago’s open data portal will remain the primary means through which Chicago releases public sector data, publishing open data on GitHub is an experiment that will be interesting to watch, in terms of whether it affects reuse or collaboration around it.

In a followup email, Goldstein, who also serves as Chicago’s chief data officer, shared more about why the city is on GitHub and what they’re learning. Our discussion follows.

Chicago's presence on GitHubChicago's presence on GitHub

The City of Chicago is on GitHub.

What has your experience on GitHub been like to date?

Brett Goldstein: It has been a positive experience so far. Our local developer community is very excited by the MIT License on these datasets, and we have received positive reactions from outside of Chicago as well.

This is a new experiment for us, so we are learning along with the community. For instance, GitHub was not built to be a data portal, so it was difficult to upload our buildings dataset, which was over 2GB. We are rethinking how to deploy that data more efficiently.

Why use GitHub, as opposed to some other data repository?

Brett Goldstein: GitHub provides the ability to download, fork, make pull requests, and merge changes back to the original data. This is a new experiment, where we can see if it’s possible to crowdsource better data. GitHub provides the necessary functionality. We already had a presence on GitHub, so it was a natural extension to that as a complement to our existing data portal.

Why does it make sense for the city to use or publish open source code?

Brett Goldstein: Three reasons. First, it solves issues with incorporating data in open source and proprietary projects. The city’s data is available to be used publicly, and this step removes any remaining licensing barriers. These datasets were targeted because they are incredibly useful in the daily life of residents and visitors to Chicago. They are the most likely to be used in outside projects. We hope this data can be incorporated into existing projects. We also hope that developers will feel more comfortable developing applications or services based on an open source license.

Second, it fits within the city’s ethos and vision for data. These datasets are items that are visible in daily life — transportation and buildings. It is not proprietary data and should be open, editable, and usable by the public.

Third, we engage in projects like this because they ultimately benefit the people of Chicago. Not only do our residents get better apps when we do what we can to support a more creative and vibrant developer community, they also will get a smarter and more nimble government using tools that are created by sharing data.

We open source many of our projects because we feel the methodology and data will benefit other municipalities.

Is anyone pulling it or collaborating with you? Have you used that code? Would you, if it happened?

Brett Goldstein: We collaborated with Ian Dees, who is a significant contributor to OpenStreetMaps, to launch this idea. We anticipate that buildings data will be integrated in OpenStreetMaps now that it’s available with a compatible license.

We have had 21 forks and a handful of pull requests fixing some issues in our README. We have not had a pull request fixing the actual data.

We do intend to merge requests to fix the data and are working on our internal process to review, reject, and merge requests. This is an exciting experiment for us, really at the forefront of what governments are doing, and we are learning along with the community as well.

Is anyone using the open data that wasn’t before, now that it’s JSON?

Brett Goldstein: We seem to be reaching a new audience with posting data on GitHub, working in tandem with our heavily trafficked data portal. A core goal of this administration is to make data open and available. We have one of the most ambitious open data programs in the country. Our portal has over 400 datasets that are machine readable, downloadable and searchable. Since it’s hosted on Socrata, basic analysis of the data is possible as well.

February 16 2013

Science Podcast – Making Crime Prevention Pay - AAAS Meeting [Feb 16, 2013]

At the AAAS meeting, economist Jens Ludwig argued that there is no one solution to violent crime and that small, light interventions can prevent violent crime and provide large returns on investment.

September 05 2012

Gary Stephan and Michael Pfisterer at Devening Projects, Chicago

Devening Projects + Editions in Chicago currently presents two solo shows. New York-based artist Gary Stephan shows new works on paper in an exhibition entitled The Story of What Happens. It’s Gary Stephan’s second show with the gallery. He presents over 100 works on paper produced over the last two years. Hamburg-based artist Michael Pfisterer’s exhibition presents recent work based on research into and documentary of a series of early scientific instruction models. The show is titled Beyond the Garden of Cyrus. Both shows run through October 6, 2012.

Gary Stephan and Michael Pfisterer at Devening Projects + Editions, Chicago. Opening reception, August 26, 2012. Video by Francisco Cordero-Oceguera.

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> On YouTube:


August 23 2012

Wobbly Misconduct. Group Exhibition at LVL3, Chicago

The exhibition Wobbly Misconduct explores themes of balance and tension and investigates the edge of stability. Rachel de Joode creates still lifes with everyday objects, pulling the human-like qualities out of the inanimate. Amy Feldman abstracts geometric shapes into semi-recognizable forms to manipulate figure-ground relationships. Allison Wade interplays objects and materials, focusing on points of connection, both physical and visual. These three artists adopt non-traditional uses of traditional forms and materials to allow for a glimpse of the thin line between stability and uncertainty. The show runs through September 23, 2012.

LVL3 was founded in 2010 in the Wicker Park neighborhood of Chicago. LVL3 is dedicated in supporting collaborative work and group shows to foster connections between emerging and established artists.

Wobbly Misconduct. Group Exhibition at LVL3, Chicago. Opening reception, August 18, 2012. Video by Francisco Cordero-Oceguera.

> Right-click (Mac: ctrl-click) this link to download Quicktime video file.
> On YouTube:


May 28 2012

Performance by Melina Ausikaitis at Julius Cæsar, Chicago

Chicago’s Julius Caesar presented work and a performance by artist Melina Ausikaitis on May 6, 2012. Through songs and painted window screens Ausikaitis develops seductive moments of aloneness and earnestness. Melina Ausikaitis lives and works in Chicago, USA. Julius Caesar is an artist run gallery founded in 2008 and located in the East Garfield Park neighborhood of Chicago.

Performance by Melina Ausikaitis on the occasion of her opening at Julius Caesar Gallery in Chicago. Melina Ausikaitis at Julius Cæsar, Chicago. Opening reception and performance, May 6, 2012. Video by Francisco Cordero-Oceguera.

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May 16 2012

A. Laurie Palmer: Still, yet, else, further, again / Solo exhibition at Threewalls, Chicago

In this video, VernissageTV attends the opening of Chicago-based artist A. Laurie Palmer at Threewalls in Chicago. The exhibition is called Still, yet, else, further, again and refers to synonyms found on the Internet for “more”. The centerpiece of the exhibition is an immersive sculptural installation in the main gallery, titled Hole. Hole is built up from stacked circular layers of cut and joined re-used lumber. Visitors can choose to be lifted up and into the hole, by a counter-weight hoist system. The exhibition runs until June 16, 2012.

Threewalls was founded in 2003 to provide greater support and visibility for the visual arts community in Chicago. The founders wanted to encourage a greater awareness of Chicago’s art scene by inviting emerging professional artists to Chicago.

A. Laurie Palmer: Still, yet, else, further, again / Solo exhibition at Threewalls, Chicago. Opening reception, May 4, 2012. Video by Francisco Cordero-Oceguera.

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> On YouTube:

Press release:

A. Laurie Palmer’s research-based art practice explores matter’s active nature on a range of scales and speeds. Her work taps into and collaborates with material forces and constructs situations and structures that invite consideration of our own capacities and agencies. She has most recently focused on how we use and share land and other natural resources, specifically through an extended investigation of industrial mineral extraction sites and the movements of substances between land and bodies. The title of the exhibition Still, yet, else, further, again, refers to synonyms found on the Internet for “more,” which as a set of terms with questionable similarity elicits what German Marxist philosopher Ernst Bloch calls the “Not Yet.” In other words, “more” stands in for a state of “comprehended hope” for a transformed world, the seeds for which are embedded in the present but not yet developed.

Still, yet, else, further, again features two works, “Hole,” an immersive sculptural installation in the main gallery and “794 mph,” a single channel video projection. “Hole” is built up from stacked circular layers of cut and joined re-used lumber, each layer having a progressively wider circumference. Visitors can choose to be lifted up and into the hole, by a counter-weight hoist system. This system, designed by Chicago Fly House, employs a 400 pound limestone and calcite rock from the local Bolingbrook quarry as counterweight to elevate a person safely strapped into a chair high enough to see over the lip of the hole. The system requires one person to manually work the chainfall to hoist another person in the chair. Literally starting with the holes punctured in our environment by corporations like BP, the experience of “Hole” establishes an equation between ore and body referencing the circles of increasing complexity related to human/nature interactions, unregulated growth and over-consumption, as well as spatial and temporal expansion.

“794 mph,” makes a different demand on the viewers’ experience with time, space, and the waiting future: willingness to slow down. Referring to the speed that the earth turns at the latitude where the footage was shot in Santa Cruz, CA, in 2010 and 2012, the long shots of night becoming morning in the video unfold at the actual speed of earth turning. While seeming fast at 794 mph, the viewers’ experience is in fact very slow, with each shot requiring between 15 to 45 minutes, marking a non-spectacular temporality.

A. Laurie Palmer’s work takes various forms as sculpture, public projects, writing, and interdisciplinary collaborations. She has shown, lectured, and published nationally and internationally since 1988, both independently and with the artist collaborative Haha, and has received generous foundation and institutional support, including from the Louis Tiffany Foundation, the Illinois Arts Council, the Richard M. Driehaus Foundation, the ArtCouncil (now Artadia) and the Radcliffe Institute. Around the year 2000, she began to focus her individual practice on local projects relating to land-use. The book 3 Acres on the Lake: DuSable Park Proposal Project, published by WhiteWalls Press in 2004, documents a public art project and exhibition related to these concerns. In 2008, WhiteWalls published With Love from Haha documenting twenty years of Haha’s site-based work, and also marking the end of that long-term collaboration. For the last five years she has been researching and writing a book on industrial mineral extraction sites in the U.S. and the movements of substances between land and bodies (Eating the Earth), which is now on review. She has returned to the studio to work on sculptural projects related to this ongoing research, and to other considerations of matter’s active nature and explorations of our collective capacities for change.

A. Laurie Palmer studied English literature and studio art at Williams College as an undergraduate, and completed her MFA at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1988 in printmaking and sculpture. She has taught full time at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and at Carnegie Mellon University, and part-time at the University of Chicago, UIC, and Vermont College. For the last fifteen years she has taught sculpture at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She also was an art writer for ten years.


April 09 2012

David Salkin: Room for Views. Installation at Peregrineprogram, Chicago

The current exhibition at the artist-run space Peregrineprogram in Chicago presents Room for Views, a new installation by Chicago-based artist David Salkin. David Salkin studied Architecture at Tulane University in New Orleans. In Room for Views, he creates an environment made of patterned objects, including rugs, quilts, and a taxidermy leopard. David Salkin currently lives and works in Chicago. The exhibition runs through April 29, 2012. More information and press release after the jump.

David Salkin: Room for Views. Solo exhibition at Peregrineprogram, Chicago. Opening reception, April 1, 2012. Video by Francisco Cordero-Oceguera.

> Right-click (Mac: ctrl-click) this link to download Quicktime video file.
> On YouTube:

Press release:

PEREGRINEPROGRAM presents Room for Views, an installation by David Salkin.

Trained in architecture, Salkin’s usual practice involves manipulating plans and grids to form patterns and images that are meant to be inhabited and read as prototypes for new urban formations.

Here in Room for Views, the artist implements an array of patterns within materials with the hopes of discovering a therapeutic and highly customized environment. Built with silk, cotton, polyester, nylon mesh, resin, cardboard, vinyl, and a variety of smaller ready-made objects, the furnishings are assembled in the exhibition space, describing what the designer’s ideal room would resemble.

In their individual manifestations, the patterns seem to confound. A checkerboard design in the quilt is an instance of how figure and ground can be clearly inferred, yet it is not clear whether this is an unnavigable plan, or a mysteriously structured tessellation. Other maneuvers, such as the use of color, keep things further in flux. For example, in a series of vinyl banners, the reading of an urban representation is suggested but only so, as positive and negative elements are confused. Yet what is confounding is also perhaps fruitful, as Someone Else’s Maquette, an indeterminate and sly construction suggests. Salkin’s point is, the identification of any programmable elements might elude, but also delight us.

Multiplicities here collide and as importantly connect. All hanging like walls, the repetitious banners that appear to flicker and frame time are juxtaposed with a unique cotton quilt, an article that unfolds quite different metaphoric and temporal dimensions. The quilt bears a man-made design with organic variations in its internal repetitions, somehow mimicking but not quite surpassing what nature commands. Pyrite fragments and a taxidermy leopard head articulate their own fluent geometry and symmetry, and one could indeed be beguiled by the wonderful and exotic. Yet, equally dazzling is a hand-knotted silk rug that solidifies the use of this aesthetic ideal for real life outside a gallery setting. More than a whimsical grouping of textures, Salkin’s assemblage aims to direct our attention to what we value. The gathering of this gamut of patterned materials, including plants, a resin tile city and a Biodome, reminds us of the many ways our material environment is ordered: in systems, in hierarchies, and most of all, in our heads.

David Salkin is from Sarasota, Florida and studied Architecture at Tulane University in New Orleans. He currently lives and works in Chicago.


August 20 2011

Other entries to the 20th anniversary of the End of the Soviet Union on - oAnth - you find here

August 19 2011

Top Stories: August 15-19, 2011

Here's a look at the top stories published across O'Reilly sites this week.

The Meat to Math ratio
Big data, machine learning, and an iterative, experimental mindset are essential for businesses — and increasingly, company valuations are tied to the efficiency with which firms put information to work.
Opening government, the Chicago way
Sustainability and analytics are guiding Chicago's open data and app contest efforts. The city's approach offers important insights to governments at all levels.
Data science is a pipeline between academic disciplines
Strata speaker and PhD candidate Drew Conway discusses how data science is influencing the processes and outcomes of academic research in the social sciences.
Honeycomb and the Android tablet tipping point
"Programming Honeycomb" author Marko Gargenta discusses the state of Android 3.x, the technical hurdles of Honeycomb, and why the slow adoption pattern of Android tablets may soon change.
Leaky paywalls and ads: What publishers can learn from the New York Times
Recent analysis of the New York Times' online paywall has put emphasis on advertising and the freemium model. Book publishers may not realize it, but those same things can apply to their content products.

Strata Conference New York 2011, being held Sept. 22-23, covers the latest and best tools and technologies for data science — from gathering, cleaning, analyzing, and storing data to communicating data intelligence effectively. Save 35% on registration with the code STRATA (offer ends 8/22).

August 17 2011

Opening government, the Chicago way

Chicago Skyline @ Night by Rhys Asplundh, on FlickrCities are experimenting with releasing more public data, engaging with citizens on social networks, adopting open source software, and finding ways to use new technologies to work with their citizens. They've been doing it through the depth of the Great Recession, amidst aging infrastructure, spiraling costs and flat or falling budgets. In that context, using technology and the Internet to make government work better and cities smarter is no longer a "nice to have" ... it's become a must-have.

In 2011, with the election of former White House chief of staff and congressman Rahm Emanuel, Chicago has joined the ranks of cities embracing the open government movement. Before his inauguration, Emanuel released a strategic plan that explicitly endorsed open data as a part of Chicago's future. The new administration hired its first chief technology officer, John Tolva, and a chief data officer, Brett Goldstein. In the months since, the new Chicago government is doing something notable, as far as governments go: it's following through on some of its open government promises.

Interviews with Chicago journalists and open government advocates, along with Tolva and Goldstein themselves, led me to a clear conclusion: there's something new going on in the Windy City that's worth sharing with the rest of the country and world.

"Appointing Tolva and Goldstein was one of the biggest ways in which Rahm has followed through," said Virginia Carlson, president of the Metro Chicago Information Center (MCIC), in an interview this summer. "The two of them make for a powerhouse, with Brett helping with releasing the data, in terms of the APIs and the time he's spent with the community."

The city has been releasing about two datasets a week since the new administration came into office, said Brian Boyer, news application developer for the Chicago Tribune. (That data trend is a big part of what motivated Boyer to work on the Panda Project.)

From where Tolva sits, what's happening in Chicago is not limited to open data or involving the tech community in improving the city. The culture of the mayor's office "changed radically with Mayor Emmanuel," said Tolva (@ChicagoCTO), speaking in a phone interview this summer. "I'm seeing the passion of the startup world here."

There's a long road ahead for open government in Chicago — the legacy of corruption, fraud and graft in City Hall there is legendary, after all — but it's safe to say that a new generation of civic coders and city officials are doing what they can to upgrade both the tone and technology that underpins city life.

"There was a lot of catching up to do," allowed Tolva. "A lot of it has been the open data publication. We've been getting very high-value datasets out almost every day. We launched an app competition. We got a performance dashboard up."

All of that is only the first step, he said. "It's part of a larger vision for stoking the entrepreneurial fires, where open data is used for much more than transparency. Data is a kind of raw material that the city encourages people to use. We're working on a digital roadmap and thinking more broadly. What can we do that will help businesses make the city more livable in a systemic way? One way we're going about that is rethinking what public space means. What are the kinds of data and interoperability standards that will allow that invisible architecture to be as accessible as a park is, and as malleable in purpose?"

Strata Conference New York 2011, being held Sept. 22-23, covers the latest and best tools and technologies for data science — from gathering, cleaning, analyzing, and storing data to communicating data intelligence effectively.

Save 30% on registration with the code STN11RAD

Tolva also offered some constructive criticism for the technologists in the open government movement to consider: "The community of civic nerds has not done a great job at engaging the big civic innovators who have no knowledge of technical skills or that area," he said. "We're trying to bring them together. One of my roles — the reason we're in the mayor's office — is to try to be that translator between the architects and the urban planners of the world and technologists."

Tolva said he is working on both economic development and applying technology to empower others to help the city work better. "I'm working with the commissioner to evangelize and convene innovators in Chicago's technology community, including Threadless, Groupon and EveryBlock. We want to promote that sensibility from the mayor's office, in terms of business developments. One third of my job is the analytics part of that, bringing data-driven decision making to the city departments, down into the individual commissions."

The movement toward opening up Chicago's government data predates the Emmanuel administration, as Carlson reminded me when I asked about new releases since the inauguration.

"The conversations started in November of 2009," she said. "The city has been building its data catalog for over a year and a half. We've been waiting for someone to come in and pull the switch. Maybe one quarter of what's now available was available before the new mayor took office. Three quarters of the data was sitting on internal servers waiting for someone to say, 'yes, we can publish it!' The salaries of city workers, for instance, was absolutely something that Rahm has released, along with lots of 311 data."

311 data has been the target of much of the initial open government activity in cities around the country, given the insight it can provide into the problems that citizens are reporting and the customer service they receive from their governments. When city officials can look at what 311 data can reveal about their urban environments, for instance, new opportunities emerge for improving the way government can target its efforts in cooperation with developers and citizens. That's the kind of "citizensourcing" smarter government that Tolva is looking to tap into in Chicago.

"This is as much about citizens talking to the infrastructure of the city as infrastructure talking to itself," he said. "It's where urban informatics and smarter cities cross over to Gov 2.0. There are efficiencies to be gained by having both approaches. You get the best of both worlds by getting an Internet of things to grow."

The most important thing that Tolva said that he has been able to change in the first months of the young administration is integrating technology into more of Chicago's governing culture. "If a policy point is being debated, and decisions are being made, people are saying 'let's go look at the data.' The people in office are new enough that they can't run on anecdotes. There's the beginning of a culture merging political sensibility with what the city is telling us."

That culture sounds more than a little like the new data journalism, applied to an emerging civic stack.

"I'm proud — and a bit harried by — the number of people asking for a regression analysis," said Tolva. "We have policy analysts who are dabbling with ArcGIS and trying Python."

The business case for open data

Like every other metropolis, Chicago has budget constraints. In the current economic climate, spending public dollars has to provide a return for taxpayers. Accountability and transparency are important civic goods — but making a business case for open data requires more grounded arguments for a city CFO to support these initiatives.

"The mayor is firmly committed to innovation that really matters and that can be built upon," said Tolva. When it comes to the business case for open data, Tolva identified four areas that support the investment, including an economic rationale:

  1. Trust — "Open data can build or rebuild trust in the people we serve," Tolva said. "That pays dividends over time."
  2. Accountability of the work force — "We've built a performance dashboard with KPIs [key performance indicators] that track where the city directly touches a resident."
  3. Business building — "Weather apps, transit apps, that's the easy stuff," he said. "Companies built on reading vital signs of the human body could be reading the vital signs of the city."
  4. Urban analytics — "Brett [Goldstein] established probability curves for violent crime. Now we're trying to do that elsewhere, uncovering cost savings, intervention points, and efficiencies."

Opening Chicago's data

Opening up Chicago's government data further will take time, expertise, and political support, along with a lot of hard work. Applying it is no different. For now, Tolva and Goldstein have the former three components firmly in hand. The latter is what lies ahead.

"In the realm of public safety, I had a good sense of the relevant data structures," said Goldstein in an interview this summer. "The city is an enterprise that's so large, with so many different functions and so many different data structures, that making sense of the landscape and developing a plan is a challenge."

From enterprise resource planning systems to public health to transportation, there's great diversity in how city data is structured and stored.

"One of the things Chicago has done very well is collect data," Goldstein said. "Now, one of the things we need to do is develop a holistic vision for an enterprise data architecture and data warehouse. How to do you take the things that are meaningful from architecture and then make them meaningful to the public?"

Given the challenges involved here, it wasn't surprising to hear Goldstein say that "we're not where I want to be yet" — but he's approaching the process methodically. "I want to know the entire lay of the land, have everything mapped out and understand the next steps."

As he looks ahead, Goldstein is less worried about access or load concerns, given the city's use of the Socrata online platform for open data. He's more focused on sustainable design.

"I want to make sure that the path we take the city on is sustainable and has a more open architecture," he said. "I find that when we choose proprietary solutions, it's hard to get the data out. If I'm going to sit down and code, I'm going to do it in Python, use Linux, and I'm going to be happier about it.

Goldstein is well aware of persistent issues around data quality that have dogged the use — and reputation — of open government data releases. "I'm very traditional in how I deal with data," he said. "It's the same as working with analytics. You need to make sure data is clean and high quality."

The process to get to clean data is, as Goldstein described it, quite methodical: "We have multiple phases for how we roll out data internally, starting with working with the business owner. We figure out how we'll get it out of the transactional database. After that, we determine if it's clean, if it's verified, and if we can sign off on it technically. "

The last step is analyzing whether the process is sustainable. "Some people send a spreadsheet, upload it and maintain it manually," said Goldstein. "That's not sustainable. We have hundreds of datasets. We're not going to do that. You need to write code that updates data on its own, and then you can focus on new datasets."

At a high level, Chicago's chief data officer emphasizes the value of open data in providing the city with insight into its business processes. "Opening data alone isn't enough," Goldstein said. "We're giving people the data to make meaningful apps and do meaningful research — but are we putting out a tabular dataset? Is it spatially enabled? Are we offering KML files directly versus a downloadable file? If we keep the KML file updated, then [application developers] can access the data directly from the app."

In this respect, Goldstein's focus on making data clean, sustainable and directly available suggests that he's attuned to what citizens want when they build applications. An open data study from late last year found that a majority of citizens prefer to explore and interact with data online, as opposed to downloading data to examine in a spreadsheet.

To fully embrace this vision, however, Chicago is going to have to build out its data capabilities to become a smarter city. "The first step is moving over to a more open platform," said Goldstein. "You don't have to make a multi-million-dollar investment to get a fancy GUI and something meaningful. If you bring something over to Linux, between Python and R you can produce some remarkable outcomes. These are some really low-cost solutions."

They're looking to use city data to make the city more productive and the processes better, said MCIC president Virginia Carlson. "For example, what if the city wants to understand zoning and the retail food landscape? Using its own food licensing and food inspection data, they can see where food is being sold. If Walmart is coming in, can the city mine its own data to understand where food deserts are and have a much richer understanding of its landscape?"

The city won't be working on this alone either, emphasized Goldstein. "We have great academic partners and lots of people coming to the table. We don't need to be afraid of using these tools. It's high time."

Refining apps competitions

The design of the Apps for Metro Chicago competition, offers some insight into how Chicago has learned from what other cities have done in their own open government and open data efforts. The competition is taking a next-generation approach, trying to provide technical assistance and connect communities with software developers.

"When I think about where we are, versus a San Francisco or Boston, it's because of examples of what worked and what didn't," said Tolva. "The judging criteria for the competition takes into account the sustainability of an idea, along with its cross-platform nature." In the video below, city officials talk about open data and building applications that are useful to the community.

Given the points that have been raised about the sustainability of apps contests, tying development to the demonstrated needs of citizens looks like an idea whose time has come. Look to the submitted ideas for NYC Big Apps in version 3.0 of its competition, for instance.

"We've elevated business viability in the judging rubric and are working with a great partner, MCIC," said Tolva. With regard to NYC BigApps 3, "there are all kinds of apps that we'd love to have," he allowed, but the applications in Apps for Metro Chicago have to solve business problems.

"The judging rubric has it that you have to demonstrate community participation and then release open source code," said Carlson. "The app has to be free to users for a year. We're very conscious that we don't want this to be a big competition ... and then it's over."

Tolva also focused on building community around apps contests and bringing more voices into the process. "We're using the Apps for Chicago to get a new kind of civic engagement and participation, which you can get involved in whether you write code or not," he said. "We've invited community leaders and groups to the table. The idea for a 'Yelp for social services' didn't come from a technologist, for example. We're curating ideas from non-technologists."

Apps for Metro ChicagoThe hypothesis in Chicago is that this hybrid strategy will result in better outcomes for taxpayers, developers and, crucially, citizens. "The apps competition needed to have a data expert, with someone outside of the city running it," said Carlson. "Justin Massa helped write the rules. Chicago was the first place to bring in unbiased external experts. Can we understand what we need to by doing open data right? This story is just beginning. The questions will be if, in six to eight months, whether this model works. We need to promote data sharing and cleanliness between data departments, to have data tickets, an internal account and a liaison, who can share that information, getting that productivity feedback and communication with developers."

The better part of an apps competition is the feedback on the data, said Carlson, not just how the city can use data on the public-facing side but apply data on the enterprise architecture side. "We're trying to capitalize on the cool factor to enhance internal processes, working with staff, and trying to get data to understand the city."

Writing the rough code of history

"We have been trying to get data out of state and local government for more than 20 years," said Carlson. "For me, to see this tide coming along from loosely affiliated millennials willing to stay up all night is inspiring. That's what's creating the energy to free up the data — this distributed network that's been living and breathing opening up the data."

There's more than the energy of millennials to celebrate here, however, as she emphasized. "They're pushing the data out to citizens as a way of running the city," she said. "It's in a business enterprise kind of way — that's the way Rahm is thinking about it. Using it internally hasn't been emphasized a lot, but it's a big part of what they're trying to do."

To get anywhere close to achieving that goal, Chicago will have to close the IT gap between the public and private sector, particularly in the emerging field of data science.

From the outside, it looks like the city's technology officials are hungry to improve how Chicago uses technology. "In the private sector and research community, we do cutting-edge work," said Goldstein. "Why shouldn't the government do this? Why should the bar be any lower?"

For now, as the new administration finds its way, there's hope that Chicago will take a leading role among other cities adopting open government.

"The combination of committed political leadership, engaged civic leaders and a vibrant start-up scene has made Chicago the place to watch for people who care about technology and society," said John S. Bracken, director of media innovation at the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, when asked for comment. "We're living in what is potentially one of the most important times in the city's history."

Photo: Chicago Skyline @ Night by Rhys Asplundh, on Flickr


March 15 2010

Ungefähr Chicago

“Ether” von Ivan Villafuerte. Angenehm metropole, etwas verlorene Stimmung am Lake Shore Drive in Chicago:

Ether from Ivan Villafuerte on Vimeo.

(Gefunden bei Vimeo)

Reposted fromglaserei glaserei

April 16 2009

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The Tyranny of Oil: The World`s Most Powerful Industry, and What We Must Do to Stop It

Antonia Juhascz associate fellow with the Institute for Policy Studies, a fellow with Oil Change International, and a senior analyst for Foreign Policy In Focus

(Nov 20, 2008 at the University of Chicago. Courtesy of CHIASMOS)

The author of The Bush Agenda: Invading the World, One Economy at a Time (2006), Juhasz has also written extensively on various aspects of globalization. Her articles and commentary on politics and policy have appeared in New York Times, International Herald Tribune, Los Angeles Times, Miami Herald, Petroleum Review Magazine, In These Times, and Washington Post, among other sources.

From the World Beyond the Headlines Series.

© 2008, The University of Chicago

by @uchannel: permalink

for more informations go to Antonia Juhasz Website - she gave a lot of interviews, e.g. Democracy Now , The REAL News Network, etc.
Reposted bySigalon Sigalon

January 19 2009

TERRA Special Engagement - Grant Park, November 4th 2008

On November 4th, 2008 history changed course. in one of the largest and most dramatic public gatherings to date in the US, President Barack Obama claimed a landslide victory against John McCain ushering in a new era in American politics.

Two graduate students from Montana State University's MFA Program in Documentary Film were on-site in Grant Park that momentous day and produced a film that captures the anticipation and excitement of the masses.

As Obama takes over the White House many wonder what new changes are in store for stem cell reseach, alternative energy, and the preservation of our wild spaces. Important issues in science and nature are once again on the agenda and we at TERRA are hopeful that Obama will move these issues back to the forefront.

December 22 2008

Play fullscreen
Innocents Lost: When Child Soldiers Go to War
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