XX in Tech
Exactly a year after Anna Wintour sprinkled her glossy fashion dust on Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Vogue has decided to switch its gaze from women in New York politics to women in New York tech.
After taking a gander at Silicon Alley’s female founders, investors, and stalwarts, the magazine opted to profile New York City’s social media-savvy chief digital officer (or “head nerd” in 4 Times Square parlance) Rachel Sterne for being “the face of a new era of digital governance.”
The feature, which isn’t available online (Bad, Conde! Stop that!) says, “Sterne is part of a new generation of bright, attractive women who are turning Silicon Alley into less of a boys’ club.” We’d quibble with Vogue‘s notion that women judged on their relative attractiveness makes it less of a boy’s club. But hey, it’s Vogue, which means we get references to Ms. Sterne’s “willowy, six-foot frame” and “striking figure.”
This morning, the NYC Digital Tumblr featured a big, bold link to NYC Open Data, advertising a catalog that “offers access to a repository of government-produced, machine-readable data sets.” Given the city’s penchant for exposing this data, we wondered if this catalog was new.
“It is new – it’s a big deal for us,” replied the city’s chief digital officer Rachel Sterne. “First time we have API- enabled data, which has long been a goal.”
In response to the announcement, entrepreneur and investor Mark Birch wrote, “The age of open sourcing government is upon us and it starts with open access to data.”
Hack Hack Hack Hack It Apart
We had our suspicions when we heard that the city was hosting a hackathon to transform its creaky, outdated 1.0 website, but minus a hackathon’s trademark scrappy flavor (Interested participants had to submit portfolios in advance and it helped if they had designed a website with over 1 million visitors a month.) Developers were likewise suspicious. One local representative, Mike Caprio, wondered if the city wasn’t just creating “a no-bid process for giant design firms in the city to compete with each other to create designs for no pay.”
But although the developer teams selected to participate skewed toward the larger side–the New York Daily News reports teams representing companies from Google to Victoria’s Secret– it sounds like the winners were inspired by the start-up world. Among the five awardees chosen by judges like Chief Digital Officer Rachel Sterne and Meetup co-founder Scott Heiferman were an team of expats who developed a Q&A site in the same vein as Stack Overflow and Quora. They suggested seeking out “super-experts” to answer everything from where to eat on the LES to how tricks for getting your kid into kindergarten.
Tech and the City
When the city announced today it’s hosting a hackathon at General Assembly to “reimagine” its 1.0-esque website, Betabeat was picturing something like Music Hack Day or the Foursquare hackathon, where a bunch of scrappy, sweatshirted programmers jammed together some code over the weekend for funsies–you know, like in the picture the mayor’s office is using to promote the event. Oops. We should have read the rules.
In a chilly, temperature-controlled auditorium at Time Warner headquarters, insulated from steam gathering outside, the top representatives of the New York City’s efforts to make good on that Road Map to a Digital City gathered to discuss the recently-released plans. How often do Chief Digital Officer Rachel Sterne, NYC EDC President Seth Pinsky, and DoITT Commissioner Carole Post really get together—when not on stage to demonstrate city’s newly-streamlined approach to tech? Actually, all the time, assured Ms. Post.
In a nod to Sterne’s emphasis on social media as the first steps in digitizing New York, Twitter’s Adam Sharp, who was just celebrating his “halfaversary” as manager of government and political partnerships, was also on stage. The conversation naturally dovetailed into other Internet Week memes, like the suddenly-ubiquitous “Made in NYC” label.
Tech and the City
The city plans to aggregate all city news on a Facebook page, build more public wifi, host hackathons, open up more data sets, redesign nyc.gov and eventually introduce a .nyc domain name, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Chief Digital Officer Rachel Sterne anounced today during the presser for the “Road Map for the Digital City,” a 60-page report produced by Ms. Sterne and other officials from the mayor’s office based on online surveys and in-person meetings–”over 4,000 points of engagement,” a blanket term that includes comments on Facebook and Twitter.