Monday, January 07, 2008

Can you ever have too much information?

With the expansion of the internet, neighborhood groups have the ability to connect residents with computers to important neighborhood information. Sometimes the information includes sensitive subjects, such as crime reports, which makes some neighborhood residents uncomfortable. If you were thinking of operating a neighborhood listserve or website, would you moderate comments, limit content, or in any other way control the flow of information?


GMichaud said...

Actually I think it is difficlut to have too much information, although it requires sifting through literature. Personally I rather have too much info than not enough.
In a community listserve you can be overwhelmed by emails. Yet even then a subject that interests you may not interest someone else.
I have found many useful tidbits of information about Tower Grove South. It is an interesting way to be part of the community.
I either delete or organize into other folders threads that I don't have an immediate use for.
Crime is also interesting. At first I felt like I was in a neighborhood full of crime, every report, no matter how small, becomes magnified.
But now I see there are many good people around watching out for each other. And while this doesn't replace knowing your neighbors on your block, it is good to see so many concerns voiced, and it is a good way to help keep crime rates down.
In general it is a good vehicle to bring communities together. (There are meeting notices, social gatherings and other events announced)
In fact the potential of neighborhood listserves and websites is just now being explored and realized. I'm sure as time goes on they will only become more useful.

Ben West said...

Although the Internets indeed give us a distinct impression of drinking from the firehose, is it still our choice look into that hose in the first place. I believe a greater concern with highly-localized online presences like neighborhood listservs is their potential to distract from the real (and centuries-old) way of building community: knowing your neighbors face to face, chatting with them, and walking the street.

This problem is exacerbated by the simple fact that not everyone has ready access to the Net, the refined ability to sift thru all this information meaningfully, or the time to do so. Such inequalities can easily become mechanisms of exclusion when these neighborhood lists come to host diverging viewpoints, debate, or other content the list admins may find objectionable.

The Net works great to connect you with Franz Liszt enthusiasts in Hungary, but it can fall tragically short as a realistic replacement for block watches and neighborhood meetings.

GMichaud said...

Actually I think the listserves enhance the real (and centuries old) way of building community. For what I can see it expands horizons rather than limit them.
If any thing it is bringing diverse people together that might not otherwise communicate.
I hardly think a solution would be abandon these community bulletin boards because some people can't participate or sift through the information.
Notices for block meetings are posted on the listserve, that involves real people going to these meetings.
Nor do I think people are going to stop walking down the street and talking to their neighbors because they have a computer.
It is an value added community benefit, helping expand and bring the community together.
Computers can be used to exclude for sure. Anything can be misused, a hammer can be used to build a home or destroy one.
If a person is distracted from real life because of a listserve, they probably would be distracted by many other things.