What makes a good local website?

Submitted by Jeff Buster@rea... on Mon, 01/09/2006 - 21:57.

Here I am in NORTH EAST OHIO, concerned about the civic situation, but, as is true for all of us, with a limited amount of time and energy.   When the muse strikes me, and I am ready to post to the web, what is the most efficacious web site on which to post?  Fresh brewed daily?,  Hotel Bruce? Cppl Cleveland?


Is it healthy to be asking these questions? or is it sacrilegious to be asking?  


I want to make a difference.  I want my ego to be acknowledged.  My time is limited.  Which web site!?


Now this gets into the  nitty gritty of web site maintenance.   Who's in charge of the editing?  Who's in charge of allocating "stickiness" to the content?  Who promotes an individual's contribution to the top of the blog?


who's naive?  every web site is in competition with every other web site.

Kick ass or die!  A web site is like having kids....once you give birth...you've got to take care of the offspring.


How's this real  neo web site doing in terms of parental care?  Are you going to post here, or go somewhere else in the Cleveland virtual landscape?  Why?  

 Darwin was a health conscious guy….



what makes a good website?

Jeff, you raise several interesting points, and I will try to provide an unbiased response here.  I say try, because its difficult to endorse other sites which don't seem to provide a truly comprehensive suite of services and features using open source technology.  

Ultimately you should be comfortable with the quality and caliber of dialogue on the site you choose.  You should determine what specific outcomes the site is trying to achieve as well.  In the case of RealNEO, we are just spawning an exciting and revolutionary web presence that has only begun to scratch the surface of possibility.   New functionality will allow truly cutting edge features - like streaming video, video blogging, and mobile technology integration to emerge in the near future.

More important than these 'wow' factors, however, is the very premise and basis for the site.  REALNEO is focused on driving regional economic development.  This mirrors the drive for sustainable community development as well - the two go hand in hand.  How do we strive to accomplish this?  In a number of ways:

1.  Allowing any citizen to register, create a profile, and gain the ability to connect to others virtually and conveniently.  This results in the building of community and the serendipitous outcomes that result from new introductions and intersections.

2.  Alerting and informing the public of important events that pertain to economic development - covering many of these so those who could not attend still obtain the core content and are thus educated.

3.  Empowering civic entrepreneurs and change agents with unprecedented open source technology (COILS) that allow them to affordably build community and dialogue around their passion area and initiative.  Over time these could develop into new nonprofits and other positive change organizations.

 4.  Allowing for content managment that provides a user information in the way they would like to see it, based on the profile information provided.

  5.  Related to #3 above,  providing underprivileged communities new opportunity via our technology - for example, helping to provide East Cleveland with an unprecedented web presence, collaborating with others to bridge the digital divide, and working to resolve key health issues like lead poisioning which are particularly difficult in communities like East Cleveland.

6.  Allowing for unbiased representation from anyone who wishes to meaningfully speak their mind on posted content.  (Moderation is required to manage inappropriate content or inappropriate marketing ploys), but the main premise is capturing the unadulterated thoughts and comments of people of our region whenever possible.

7.  Providing Forum areas :  Arts and Culture, Education, Economy, Environment, Health, and Technology  within which key areas of concern cna be addressed, challenged, and posted.  Facilitating dialogue and interaction around subtopics within each of these six spheres should result in positive outcomes toward sustainability, quality of life, and economic development.

It is important to note that embracing this new technology and the concept of social computing requires a paradigm shift - and as such there will be a learning curve and acclimation curve as uptake of the new paradigm progresses.  We are now working to help facilitate this by growing the number of active and engaged participants and continuing to provide new points of value that facilitate participation and engagement. Plans for aligned educational efforts are underway as well.  It is an exciting time for RealNEO and we are at a critical juncture: we need active and concerned citizens like you, Jeff - to join this unprecedented effort toward positive regional outcomes.  Thanks so much for your comments!

re: which site is Northeast Ohio?

 My short answer is: There isn't one.  Sudhir is right. RealNEO has an economic development focus while Hotel Bruce has more of an environmental / sustainable living slant.  Brewed Fresh Daily is kind of a nexxus of the Cleveland's blogging community while Cool Cleveland is a little more lifestyle-oriented. cleveland.com is the world through the eyes of the Plain Dealer. Take your pick. How do you want to make your voice heard?  If you don't quite find something to your liking, feel free to get your own thing going.

But, ultimately, the beauty of the web is that it is, more often than not, a meritocracy and a democracy.  A website is a culmination of the people who make, contribute and maintain it.  Which means your question absolutely aren't stupid.  Every web user should ask themselves the same questions.  This isn't TV.  We can talk back...it's all a matter of what to say.

This site is powered by Drupal, an excellent content management system which I personally use. The content, itself, is the result of the contributors. If you post it, it will be on (as was the case with your post). There are abilities to moderate built into the software, however.
For disclosure, I used to work with RealNEO and I have been doing web development since 1995.
Good luck on finding where and how you wish to contribute.


Excellent topic and comments

Derek and Sudhir raise important points. Bottom line is today's technology empowersa individuals in entirely new ways, and the pace of change is increasing. We encourage anyone who is interested to post to realneo, including blogging. We also encourage anyone interested in "what makes a good local website" to get together and help us build realneo into a great local website, and build NEO into as community that is excellent with information technology, where all people know how to participate in the global information age, not just how to post to local websites. That is how NEO will gain competitive advantages through IT. Please email me at norm [at] realinks [dot] us if you want to participate in a working group to advance these causes... and feel free to post your thoughts as comments or as new blogs, stories or forum topics at realneo.

Which website?

Frankly, I think you have to resist the notion that any one particular site will be a magic bullet. As Derek points out, each website you mention performs a particular function. I would also suggest that each site servers a particular audience as well. The beauty of the webpages are that they are built on hyperlinks. If you post something here, you can cross-post it at BFD, submit the link to Cool Cleveland, send it to the PD as a letter to the editor. For you message to sink in, treat it like a campaign, and expose the audience your trying to reach as many times as you can.

A good example

I agree. A good example is the debate over a new I-90 bridge across the Cuyahoga and the trench through Cleveland. This debate has been well facilitated in the PD, Urban Ohio, The Cuyahoga County Planning Blog, BFD, Cool Cleveland, REALNEO and a range of live and virtual public forums. But, it is because there are many people passionate about related issues, using a diverse set of tools to communicate like a campaign, that the message is sinking in where it counts, in NEO, Columbus and at the federal level.