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Derivative Works from Daniel X. O'Neil

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Camp Fire

Camp Fire
Camp Fire,
originally uploaded by juggernautco.

Summer closes. The Edgerton fires still warm me.

This summer we spent a few days in a cabin in Edgerton, WI. It's amazing how campfires can make you feel-- safe, primal, agressive.

I look forward to the apples of Fall, but still tuck the fires of Edgerton in me.

To Panera Bread, With Love

Most of us vagabond laptop workers are highly aware of the fact that Panera Bread has free wi-fi in every one of their stores. On any given day, I am all over the city & suburbs meeting with clients, picking up my kids, sending documents, etc., and the mental geography of all the spacious, clean, coffee-filled, outlet-rich Paneras is a major consideration in my motion planning.

Thank you, Panera. You get my money.

Open Source Emergency Response

So today John Hilkevitch did a story about the CTA Alerts utility that I set up on UPOC with my brother, the CTA Tattler.

It's always dangerous to talk to reporters-- you never know what quotes they're going to cobble together and say you said. But I think he did a good job of attributing some cohesive text to me based on my rambling.

When I said that I was "incredibly interested in the ability of human beings to affect their surroundings instead of whining and complaining", what I was talking about was a concept I've been thinking about alot lately:

Open Source Emergency Response.

The current way we deal with emergencies (terrorism, service outages, etc.) is that the people who are near the emergency but not immediately injured are considered objects who must be managed or removed so that the First Responders (fire, police, EMT) can do their jobs.

But what if we applied the things we've learned from the open source software movement-- that everyone can help everyone, that an immense and loosely coupled group of people can often outperfom a finite set of professionals, that you don't have to wait for the answer to come from on high-- to emergency response?

If we all knew what to do in emergencies-- how to move the injured, how to spot remaining danger, where to go for cover, and so on, we could all be assets and not just obstacles.

The CTA Alerts utility is a small step in that direction. That's what I meant to say.

Meetings and Power

As the former president of a Catholic elementary school board, and a member of this-and-that parish group, ad-hoc committee, and other community groups, I am pretty familiar with the inside of a meeting room.

I am also pretty familiar with the idea of obsessively photographing obscure picture sets.

That's why I am taken in by Paul Shambroom's, MEETINGS SERIES, a set of photos taken at town council and community meetings across the country. Banal and oddly similar in both people and room types. Here's his take on the project:

These photographs emphasize the theatrical aspects of meetings: There is a "cast", a "set", an "audience" (sometimes), and a "program" (the agenda). Seating arrangements, clothing, and body language all provide clues to local cultural traits and political dynamics. The subjects play dual roles as private individuals and (sometimes reluctant) public leaders. Power may be relative, but the mayor of a town of 200 has much in common with the President of the United States. We see ourselves reflected (either in positive or negative) in our leaders, exemplifying both the highest ideals and lowest depths of the human spirit. Our reactions to them help define our perceptions of our own place in society, as insiders or outsiders, haves or have-nots.

via Design Observer.

Best Gossip Website Ever

I recently found OH NO THEY DIDN'T!, a LiveJournal community site that has the flat-out best celebrity dirt on the internet. I recommend reading it through bloglines-- less clicking, more pictures.

Get Rider-to-Rider CTA Service Alerts on Your Phone, SMS, or Email

upocSo my brother Kevin has a weblog called CTA Tattler. It has lots of readers and a pretty broad community of people interested in the daily live of the Chicago Tranist Authority has formed there.

The site get lots of action when there is a service interruption on the CTA– people log on after being frustrated after rough commutes peppered with precious little actual useful communication coming from CTA employees– the people who “should” know.

But I also noticed that people posted tons of specific information about the transit conditions that would have been useful if it was received at the right time (like, during rush hour when people were making transit decisions).

So I started a group on UPOC, which is a pretty nifty free wireless notification utility. I signed up years ago and started a group called “Five Dollar Meals in Chicago” as a test. It kinda went nowhere, but I never noticed much spam in the group and I’ve never been solicited by UPOC directly, so they seemed to be a relatively non-evil group providing a useful service for free.

The new group is called CTA Alerts and its description is “Rider-to-rider communication in the event of service disruption or emergency on the Chicago Transit Authority”. Kevin posted about it this morning and we have 52 members already.

Upshots for those interested in an internet life:

  • You don’t have to rely on traditional sources of information (silent or misleading CTA workers) or ineffective technology (bad loudspeakers)
  • You can use free, reliable technology that is widely available (weblogs, wireless notification utilities, etc.) on hardware you already own (cell phones, computers, etc.) to make your life better (be better informed and make better on-the-spot decisions
  • God bless the internet.

    Go here to sign up
    or just use this nifty form.


    Daniel X. O'Neil: Chicago-based writer and internet developer. I am a co-founder of and the People Person for EveryBlock, a site that pulls together local news and public information. I run dozens of personal projects and websites for clients, and also own half of a poetry book company.


    EveryBlock: A news feed for your block.
    CTA Tweet: Unofficial Twitter tracker for the Chicago Transit Authority.
    CityPayments: Database of all vendors, contracts, and payments that have been posted by the municipal government of the City of Chicago
    Wesley Willis Art: Site dedicated to the fact that Wesley Willis was an artist.
    Wide Right Turn: An incomplete look at the role of variation in a capitalist society.


      follow me on Twitter





      • Wesley Willis Art
        Site dedicated to the fact that Wesley Willis was an artist.
      • CTA Alerts
        Wireless notifications about service on the Chicago Transit Authority.
      • Wide Right Turn

        An incomplete look at the role of variation in a capitalist society.
      • Derivative Works Art Manifesto
        Humans own their experience of copyrighted content.
      • Y!Q Link Generator
        Simple form for creating Y!Q links to add relevance, annotate text, and provide more sophisticated layers of meaning to web content.