The Human-Human Interface


The World Right Now

At the other end of the demographic spectrum from Wyoming, New York City’s 311 government information hotline is not only a disseminator of information, but has learning feedback built in. Checkout the performance statistics for types of inquiries – the government affairs equivalent of Google Zeitgeist.

“Third, the government learns as much as the callers do. That’s the radical idea at the heart of the service: Every question or problem carries its own kind of data. Menchini’s system tracks all that information; just as the heralded CompStat system mapped problem crime areas with new precision, 311 automatically records the location of each incoming service request in a huge database that feeds info throughout New York City’s government. Think of 311 as a kind of massively distributed extension of the city’s perceptual systems, harnessing millions of ordinary eyes on the street to detect emerging problems or report unmet needs – like those worries about unrefrigerated insulin. (Bloomberg himself is notorious for calling in to report potholes.)”