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September 04 2012

13:13

LocalWiki Releases First API, Enabling Innovative Apps

We're excited to announce that the first version of the LocalWiki API has just been released!

What's this mean?

In June, folks in Raleigh, N.C., held their annual CityCamp event. CityCamp is a sort of "civic hackathon" for Raleigh. During one part of the event, people broke up into teams and came up with projects that used technology to help solve local, civic needs.

citycamp.jpg

What did almost every project pitched at CityCamp have in common? "Almost every final CityCamp idea had incorporated a stream of content from TriangleWiki," CityCamp and TriangleWiki organizer Reid Seroz said in an interview with Red Hat's Jason Hibbets.

The LocalWiki API makes it really easy for people to build applications and systems that push and pull information from a LocalWiki. In fact, the API has already been integrated into a few applications. LocalWiki is an effort to create community-owned, living information repositories that will provide much-needed context behind the people, places, and events that shape our communities.

The winning project at CityCamp Raleigh, RGreenway, is a mobile app that helps residents find local greenways. They plan to push/pull data from the TriangleWiki's extensive listing of greenways.

Another group in the Raleigh-Durham area, Wanderful, is developing a mobile application that teaches residents about their local history as they wander through town. They're using the LocalWiki API to pull pages and maps from the TriangleWiki.

Ultimately, we hope that LocalWiki can be thought of as an API for the city itself -- a bridge between local data and local knowledge, between the quantitative and the qualitative aspects of community life.

Using the API

You can read the API documentation to learn about the new API. You'll also want to make sure you check out some of the API examples to get a feel for things.

wanderful.jpg

We did a lot of work to integrate advanced geospatial support into the API, extending the underlying API library we were using -- and now everyone using it can effortlessly create an awesome geospatially aware API.

This is just the first version of the API, and there's a lot more we want to do! As we add more structured data to LocalWiki, the API will get more and more useful. And we hope to simplify and streamline the API as we see real-world usage.

Want to help? Share your examples for interacting with the API from a variety of environments -- jump in on the page on dev.localwiki.org or add examples/polish to the administrative documentation.

CityCamp photo courtesy of CityCamp Raleigh.

Philip Neustrom is a software engineer in the San Francisco Bay area. He co-founded DavisWiki.org in 2004 and is currently co-directing the LocalWiki.org effort. For the past several years he has worked on a variety of non-profit efforts to engage everyday citizens. He oversaw the development of the popular VideoTheVote.org, the world's largest coordinated video documentation project, and was the lead developer at Citizen Engagement Laboratory, a non-profit focused on empowering traditionally underrepresented constituencies. He is a graduate of the University of California, Davis, with a bachelor's in Mathematics.

February 28 2012

14:00

As TriangleWiki Gets Ready to Launch, LocalWiki Reflects on Its First Year

Hey friends!

Whew! A lot has happened since our last PBS Idea Lab blog update! Our first focus community, DentonWiki, has been doing great, and several of our other focus communities are close to launching.

triwikiday_editparty-300x225.jpg

Just recently, nearly 50 people came together in Raleigh, N.C., to join a massive in-person content-building sprint to build up the soon-to-be-launched TriangleWiki.org. Folks from all walks of life joined in -- two city council members and Raleigh's chief planning director even came by to help out. Read more about the event on our blog.

And our new software has been rapidly adopted by communities around the world. Since our last email, over 180 independent communities have installed our LocalWiki software, making us one of the most-installed Knight News Challenge projects ever!

Our first year, in review

We thought it'd be great to take some time to look back and reflect on our past year. We've put together this report highlighting some of what we've accomplished and where we're headed:

Check it out and share widely!

xo-
Philip & Mike

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