Sunday, December 21, 2008

Friday, December 19, 2008

Outcome Based Meta Action: Part One

Part of the current dilemma on Long Island, and elsewhere, is the lack of clarity an action or actions will have on the status quo.

Will it solve the problem? Will it create additional problems?

The above simple graphic is an attempt to illustrate a small part the rational, collaborative approach we are advocating with One Long Island.

More in Part Two.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Interesting proposal ...

Here is a another proposal for the consolidation of governmental entities in New York State.

It will be interesting to see the details. On first blush the referendum reform seems well thought out. Yes there should be uniform, more simple rules for public referendum (as we've advocated in our Referendum Cycles, Virtual Constitution, Best Practices Wiki sections among many others). Allowing counties to "forcibly" consolidate districts however seems counter to the idea of a streamlined referendum process, although I may be misreading the intent of the proposal.

Less clear on the press release is the methodology for determining the validity and the efficiency of districts, towns, villages etc although I'm sure that will be forthcoming.

Just because there are a lot of districts doesn't necessarily mean they are a bad thing or not well managed. Well coordinated small units can be as effective or more effective than larger units and "corruption" and "inefficiency" is part of the human condition against which we must always be vigilant, it is not the sole domain of one form of government (or any organization for that matter) over another. Increased collaboration and coordination among all branches of government should always be our goal.

Lastly, it would be interesting to see this current proposal integrated into all of the other ideas for comprehensive change in New York, from all quarters and to take the best parts of each so that we may move forward in unison and with a common purpose.

I'm afraid however, that until we have the access to information and fair and complete analysis of the type we've been proposing (for the last 15 years or so and more vigorously for the past couple of years) large scale sustainable change may be rather difficult since there will always be a trust issue to overcome.

Is what we are being told true and are we getting all the information we need to make a rational judgment?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Climate Change initiatives ...

I read with interest the ongoing "Climate Communities" project of which Nassau County is a part and on Monday had the pleasure of hearing the Governor of New York address a gathering of the Long Island association.

Once again I was struck at how many good things people are doing and saying in all of the various disciplines, and also sadly, how truly disorganized we are.

The Governor spoke of the need to "reorganize" New York State for greater efficiency. This is certainly a good approach. He also spoke of the difficulty of getting everyone on the "same page" so to speak and the urgency of doing so. Also good.

SO above we have an partial example of a symbiotic relationship between one of the things the Governor wishes to do, that is allow SUNY and other universites the freedom to become a larger part of the economic engine of New York and to help drive innovation and job creation and the worthwhile Climate Communities project.

Free SUNY and make it easier for them to engage in business arrangements with local government. Streamline the ability of SUNY and local government to do joint projects and make application to the Federal Government for real world projects. Integrate what they are doing with the new Long Island Master Plan. Establish Green Accelerators across the state. Innovate with programs like "Better Place."

Where is the money you may ask? There is more than ample money in the system if it is organized properly and allocated effectively to at least get the ball rolling. More important is the need to free SUNY and others to be entrepreneurial and to cut the red tape.

We can not be so afraid of potential "corruption" that we paralyze our ability to be successful.

Apparently New York State is close to 15 Billion in the hole according to the Governor. Now is the time for bold new thinking and yes, some risk taking.

Playing it safe has only lead to stagnation in New York.

If "change" and reform is on the menu, we should leave no stone unturned in making comprehensive sustainable progress in addressing New York's and Long Island's future.

It is time for collaborative meta-leadership.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Making decisions with incomplete data ...

We've spoken ad nauseum about the need for accurate meta-data and a methodology for analyzing and implementing good public policy based upon same.

Bad public policy is created often in times of crisis (as now with the world financial crisis) when everyone is under pressure to just "do something." Worse, there are folks who use this time to push through pet projects or create legislation out of the existing fear in the populous.

But what effect do our actions have? How does one action affect another in the harsh light of reason?

Do we know? Do we want to know?

No, we don't currently know and yes, I believe most folks want to know so they can make a reasoned judgment.

Can we know? Of course. Certainly on Long Island and in New York we can.

All of the One Long Island series of "modular" proposals are based in real and workable solutions to our problems. They just require a little creative, analytical thought rather than the sometimes "knee jerk" reaction we have to addressing the issues of the day.

Good public policy requires most of all, an accurately informed, engaged public.

One Long Island is an attempt to create a platform to do just that.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Current events ...

"The significance of the report, however, is debatable right now.

It doesn't take a genius to figure out that a cap would help, regional consolidation would help, and taming the power of the unions would help. But even now, with the state in a fiscal crisis, Albany can't come to grips with cutting some money out of school aid -- and so great is the power of the status quo that reforms of the underlying causes haven't even been put on the table.

So, Suozzi ends up with a report that identifies the problem, but doesn't really identify a legislative strategy for achieving change against the opposition of NYSUT and the other special interests. And without a strategy, it's all just paper."

"Taking a page from The Great Depression’s playbook, Nassau County on Tuesday unveiled its “New Deal for Nassau,” a program designed to boost government efficiency by cutting down on delays caused by bureaucracy and red tape.

The program, which is in its preliminary, fact-finding stages, is a mission by Legislature Presiding Officer Diane Yatauro and Legis. David Mejias to make it easier for businesses to operate in the county, stimulate the economy and attract new companies, development and jobs."

The two most recent well intentioned acts only serve to point out the continuing difficulty we are having on Long Island coordinating our actions for the "greater good."

There are many fine ideas on Long Island, or in many cases programs and activities in various stages of completion. What is lacking is dynamic collaboration of the type we have been advocating.

Rather than start a "new" program or report, perhaps we should take stock of what we currently have and what has been issued before. Perhaps this information should be "converted" into a dynamic format we've been talking about and analyzed prior to starting a "new mission."

The problem with "new" programs which cover existing problems is that they very rarely take into account the work and information that is available. This is generally not the fault of the proposers of a new project since the information must be made available to them (and us) in the "meta" format we have also been promoting.

The danger with new programs which don't take into account the fine work that has come before it is that we then contribute to the "cycle of stagnation" by never moving beyond the "new, bright and shiny" phase where everyone is excited by the expectation of something new and better. This is the allure of "change." Everyone defines it in their own way because we have no "common language" to help us define what it is we are actually talking about so therefore we never truly make progress on solving our problems.

This is one of the issues the One Long Island series of ideas attempts to address.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Change is here ...

The results of the current New York State elections have brought into clearer focus the need for a different approach to problem solving and organization on Long Island.

The old adage "to the victor belong the spoils" is one Long Islanders must be more acutely aware of more than ever. In a time of diminishing resources and a political power shift towards New York City and its boroughs, Long Island stands to lose whatever power it currently holds.

Elected officials generally will take the course of least resistance, and for New York elected officials, its easier to help their own constituents than to worry about the "big picture" and Long Island in particular.

Shouldn't then Long Island elected officials (in this particular case the NYS Senate) be looking to form a coalition (political and/or otherwise) on Long Island and with upstate officials so that the balance of power between urban, suburban and rural interests in maintained? Is the model of the NYS Assembly and the accumulation of power in the boroughs of New York City a harbinger of the future?

Maybe, maybe not. But why risk the future of Long Island's interests until we are certain of a fair and balanced approach to governance in New York State? It is simply illogical to give away power and influence when you don't have to and before you have a verifiable scheme in place to replace the one you have, as imperfect as it may be. That would be simply like "re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic."

Take a comprehensive approach to solving the problems and the inequities in the current system, don't just shift power so that some problems get solved and others become more pronounced, perhaps to devastating effect on large numbers of Long Island, suburban and rural residents. Yes NYC is vitally important to the economic well being of our state. But we should not put all our efforts into NYC to the exclusion of other existing and potential economic engines across the state.

Because of Long Island's fragmented nature, it is somewhat easy to pit one constituency against another whether using political means or other devices. Long Island is ripe for a divide and conquer strategy.

By withholding (intentionally or unintentionally) information from the public or otherwise making it difficulty for the public to get a "clear picture" of the reality of our circumstances and leads to extreme partisanship and demagoguery, neither of which is healthy for Long Island's long term health and well being.

It is also clear that until there is a "unified"approach to solving state-wide issues (and national issues for that matter) Long Island will need to fortify itself against the coming storm. We must create an environment that will inoculate ourselves from extreme changes to our environment and give us the flexibility to adjust quickly and naturally based upon logic and reason within a dynamic environment.

The "One Long Island" series of ideas, while appearing to be only an abstraction are, in fact, based in reality and on concepts we can accomplish immediately.

As we've stated before trust is the key and there can not be trust without verifiable information and objective analysis within a collaborative, dynamic environment.

It will take time, but the the results will promote real change based upon a "bottom up" collaborative approach to problem solving.

No one leader can "save us." No "one idea" can solve all our issues. No "one group" can or should determine our future.

We must change the dynamic on Long Island and subscribe to a shared Long Island Philosophy which is based in a pragmatic approach wit in a flexible, dynamic environment if do not wish to fall prey to other regions in the state or the nation.

A strong Long Island can be a model for the nation on how to create a new regional dynamic that can work with other regions yet allow independent, creative dynamism within our own region to continually reshape and reorganize how we operate and how we address any new challenge we may encounter.

What seems different and noteworthy about the I.B.M. approach is its sweeping comprehensiveness and message,” said Rosabeth Moss Kanter, a professor at the Harvard Business School. “Putting the pieces together under one inclusive and rather bold label can stimulate discussion and innovation.

Monday, October 20, 2008

More "open" ideas for Long Island ...

Here is another "open platform" system that may, in addition to Dublin Core, Lydia and others we've discussed, serve as a basis for creating a rapid, collaborative Long Island communication network.

In addition to all the other One Long Island projects, this Long Island Open Code Library concept may (and as also previously discussed) offer the public an unprecedented opportunity to participate in their own "destiny."

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Why wait for a crisis?

In the end, Lincoln was proved right again: "With public sentiment, nothing can fail; without it, nothing can succeed."

The current debate on the economy has illustrated perhaps the key issue in moving forward on substantive change on Long Island and an issue the One Long Island program seeks to address.

Without the public trust nothing is possible.

We can see the overwhelming reaction to the public perception that a "solution" is being foisted upon them by those who "know better."

We can see many parallels to this attitude on Long Island. There are plenty of folks who claim to have the answer. Maybe they do, maybe they don't.

It does not make the proposers "evil" or not interested acting in the public interest. In fact, ultimately they may have the correct solution.

It won't matter. The public distrust of government, large organizations and powerful individuals is so ingrained that to fight it is a fool's errand.

Lincoln was correct. Without a public buy in, change is virtually impossible. One Long Island is an attempt to re-organize how we approach problem solving on Long Island so that public sentiment may be achieved and that big issues may be addressed and solved in a civil and productive manner.

Why wait for a crisis?

Friday, September 12, 2008

Building a New Long Island Economy: Part One

Some more inter-related topics:

One on cutting "red tape."

One on regional planning.

One on the Long Island economy.

As we've posted previously it seems a fairly obvious observation that the above issues among many others, are inter-related. Often times we can not change one thing without causing change in one or more other areas.

We've also spoken about the "diversity" of organizations (some might say duplication or redundancy of organizations) on Long Island, not only in government but across many different disciplines. Never-the-less, this is the current state of affairs and changing it by reduction may take more time and effort than its worth. Many organizations exist because of something, not in spite of it and have the constituencies to prove it.

As previously stated, organizations, of all types, that are no longer necessary will become extinct naturally if there is a dynamic philosophy on Long Island, which concentrates on innovation and self-renewal.

So, what to do?

There seems to be a general consensus on the big issues. The problem is that the consensus has been reached using the only data available to organizations and that data has not been standardized or normalized (the term my friend Mark Fasciano uses and which the correct one, he's the PhD not me), also an issue we've spoke about previously with among other posts the Long Island Dublin Core Initiative idea among other concepts. Additionally the methodology utilized to reach these various conclusions is similarly not uniform, has not been vetted and is generally in a static format rather than a dynamic format making it only semi-useful.

Therefore, conclusions reached using these various data will never be "bullet proof" and as such are subject to attack, justified or unjustified.

Once the information leaves the area of verifiable fact and enters the world of opinion, then, constructive action is virtually impossible as the various competing interests jostle over who is correct.

We are not suggesting that informed opinion should not be solicited, but it can not be the sole basis for or a major component in building a new Long Island economic model or creating a Long Island Philosophy.

Without a flexible, dynamic structure in place we will continue to make only sporadic progress and remain stuck in the "cycle of stagnation" we've spoken about previously.

More in Part II.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Some updates ...

Sorry about the lack of posts lately.

It isn't that I've run out of ideas (although some might say that would be a good thing), I've just been busy on a number of other fronts.

1. Making some good progress on the "Green Accelerator" concept.

2. Even more promising developments on the whole One Long Island project and how it relates to "Meta- Planning" on Long Island.

3. My music CD project nearing completion. Not coming out too bad as far as I can tell from early reaction. Although people may just be acting politely so as not to crush my enthusiasm.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Trust: Part II

"I propose that the Internet is the truest sense of the modern-day city. There are dense populations, a social infrastructure, complex architecture, rules, and culture. I will suggest that there is transportation as well as residences. Drawing mainly on the ideas of Jane Jacobs I will present the Internet as a modern day city that is governed under what I define as "Democratic Anarchy."Emily's paper addresses an issue I've been pondering lately: The extent to which an Internet community such as Second Life is a city. Another way to put it is to ask to what extent are such communities substitutes or complements to real face-to-face communities? I use Jane Jacobs's work as the analytical foundation, of course, which is why her concepts are so prominent in Emily's discussion."

"Instead of chasing non-Long Island planning and economic development consultants, the planning board should consider keeping the economic impact here on Long Island by integrating into its plans the economic and planning expertise available at each county, most Long Island towns, the Long Island Association, Dowling College and Stony Brook University. Recommendations will emerge that the planning board can discuss, at a cost the region can afford."

"An alliance like this makes sense for Long Island. The range of interest groups already agrees that we need more affordable housing. We should get leaders from these groups together in a room, and tell them to come out when they have a concrete plan to build it.

Sure, there will be disagreements. But the power, breadth and common interest of the group would make it difficult for individuals to scuttle good proposals on the basis of narrow interests. And, as in Boston, once the unified group presented its plan, there would be no stopping it.

Many talented and well-placed people would join such an effort, if only we could get it started. That will take leaders, and importantly, leaders from the business community. A couple of individuals, determined to replace hand-wringing with action, is all it would take to get the ball rolling. Who will step up?"

Here we have three elements (of many we have been discussing on this site) which, at first, may seem not to have a lot in common.

Virtual cities? Aren't those just games?

Integrated planning? How do you accomplish that?

Common agreement on a big issue? How to get started implementing these big ideas?

OK, so as we've previously explored current web technology (2.0 and emerging 3.0) makes it reasonably easy to communicate. Among many questions we might ask are, what information do we communicate? How is it relevant? How has it been vetted? Is it dynamic or static information? How do we avoid this "democratic anarchy" explore above?

OK smart guy, if its so easy to communicate, why don't we just communicate get more done here on Long Island. Ah ha very true, but first you must be willing to communicate and have the means and opportunity to communicate.

This is actually what we've been advocating with our "One Long Island" series of proposals (and actually back to the Oyster Bay 2000 days of 1992-93).

So we have the technology to communicate effectively, there is certainly enough capital on Long Island to create/expand the "virtual infrastructure," we have plenty of smart people with great ideas here on Long Island ... sooooooooo .. what's missing?

In a word, trust.

We simply do not trust the that information we receive is complete or has been vetted and analyzed completely (whether it has or not), we do not believe we (the general public) is adequately informed or that our opinions even when heard even matter, we are generally suspicious of government and large organizations ... in short in the maze and daze of daily living we do not have the time to focus on the "larger issues" of the day in a way that will allow us to trust that the correct actions are being undertaken.

So what to do?

Well you could try to just ram things through a la Robert Moses. It won't work, but you could try.

You could try to convince everyone that you have thought of every possible angle and contingency and that your conclusions are bullet proof. It won't work, but you could try.

First we must establish trust, and more importantly a methodology to ensure that this trust is verifiable.

More in Part III.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Meta-leadership: Part V

"Transactional leaders use conventional reward and punishment to gain compliance from their followers."

"Transforming leadership... occurs when one or more persons engage with others in such a way that leaders and followers raise one another to higher levels of motivation and morality. Their purposes, which might have started out as separate but related, as in the case of transactional leadership, become fused. Power bases are linked not as counterweights but as mutual support for common purpose. Various names are used for such leadership, some of them derisory: elevating, mobilizing, inspiring, exalting, uplifting, preaching, exhorting, evangelizing. The relationship can be moralistic, of course. But transforming leadership ultimately becomes moral in that it raises the level of human conduct and ethical aspiration of both leader and led, and thus it has a transforming effect on both."

The definition for "transforming leadership" can also be a definition, at least in part, for "meta-leadership."

Although I am not a huge fan of the whole "need for leadership issue" since it almost always leads to those designated as leaders accumulating and hence almost never willingly relinquishing power (thank god for George Washington), thus leading to the "cycle of stagnation" we've talked about earlier, there is a "tradition" that needs and expects some sort of leadership model.

The meta-leadership model (or transformational model) at least offers the hope of creating a "dynamic environment" that will allow us to engage in clear thinking based on real time data and analysis and collaborative organization building. Meta-leadership might also be further defined as the "absence of static leadership and organization."

This dynamism is necessary in a world with diminishing resources, a larger population, greater competition among and between geographic regions as well as a whole host of criteria that will define our immediate and long term future.

Meta-leadership can and should allow for the dynamic interaction of small, medium and larger groups and organizations. It does not demand (transactional leadership) a certain way of doing things.

Therefore, leadership is based upon need and ability in real time (or virtual real time) not just upon someone being designated as a leader.

More in Part Six.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Static planning vs dynamic planning ...

"The Town of Huntington is about to release Comprehensive Plan Update: Horizons 2020, a draft version of what will become a roadmap for future development in the town that includes Huntington Station, East Northport and Dix Hills.

The town will put copies of the plan in libraries throughout Huntington, as well as Huntington Town Hall at 100 Main Street. It will also be posted on the town’s Web site."

Good to see some long range planning going on and the Town Huntington is to be commended for the effort.

But like previous planning efforts on Long Island (and elsewhere) we still have not bridged the gap from "static planning" into "dynamic planning (as previously discussed on this site)."

Wouldn't it be productive to have this plan (and other "local" plans across Long Island) be part of a Long Island dynamic meta-plan and as generally available meta-data?

Furthermore, shouldn't the information gathered in the Huntington model be available island- wide for study and possible use in other jurisdictions?

Won't situations change over time? Wouldn't it be helpful to update and analyze all or part of what you are doing in virtual real time, rather than have to start the process from scratch each time?

As we've stated previously, if governmental entities (like the Town of Huntington) , individuals, and organizations had access to easy to use, available analytic tools, methodologies, data structures etc., when one entity creates good work, it links to the "greater entity" (Long Island) so that all may benefit.

More to come ...

Monday, August 4, 2008

Modular Long Island: Part II

Last year around this time we started talking about a "modular Long Island" concept.

In point of fact, all of the One Long Island series of ideas is "modular" in that each idea can stand on its own or easily "integrate" with other elements of One Long Island (or already existing compatible ideas, organizations, systems etc.).

A large problem on Long Island as elsewhere, and one that we've talked about ad infinitum, is the seeming inability to link similar ideas, organizations and programs and further, the seeming inability to understand (or to recognize) the impact of one or multiple actions on the immediate and long term status of Long Island.

Ah ha, you might say, it is impossible to think of everything at once.

Under current conditions, difficult yes, impossible no.

The fact is, we must learn to think differently and on multiple levels simultaneously if we are to create substantive, positive and sustainable change.

Some look at the many levels of government on Long Island as the main culprit in our apparent dysfunction. Certainly this has something to do with it. But the organization of government is merely an outgrowth of how we wish to govern ourselves and more narrowly, to "control" our geographic area and immediate environment.

If we look beyond government, you pick the discipline, not for profit, information/data services, environmental, education etc, we will see the same level of "diversity."

Some see this "diversity" governmental or otherwise as a bad thing. I say it doesn't really matter if there are systems in place to foster simple and effective collaboration. People, no matter who they are or who they are affiliated with, must come to the table willingly and must trust that the process and the information they receive (and provide) is accurate, fair and reasonable for there to be long term sustainable change.

Government and other types of organizations will only achieve their optimally effective size and structure through the type of collaborative and "dynamic" interaction we've advocated over the past year (actually since 1993 with Oyster Bay 2000).

Its almost as if we must break organizations and their respective missions down to their component parts and reassemble them in new, more dynamic and flexible shapes.

This type of thinking enhances opportunity for those currently on "the outside looking in" and additionally, actually assists those who may initially lose some clout and influence they enjoyed under the old regime(s) in having more, if a different type of, influence and opportunity as Long Island creates a greater and more expansive, dynamic environment.

It won't happen overnight, but it will not happen at all unless we try a different approach. This is some of the thinking behind the Long Island Meta-Planning, Meta-Data, Meta-Think Tank etc, etc, etc concepts.

More in Part III.

Friday, July 25, 2008

A different perspective

Interesting and potentially helpful show here.

Always nice to see different perspectives. It helps shake the cobwebs off the old grey matter.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Meta-Leadership: Part IV

If we define Meta-Leadership, in part, as the ability to facilitate a change from a "static" environment to a "dynamic" environment, then this partial chart helps illustrate this point (click on the chart for a larger view).

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Meta-Leadership: Part II

We referenced a good article on "Meta - Leadership" in an earlier post.

Although I'm not a big advocate for "leaders" being able to solve all our problems (I much prefer a broad based collaborative model, for all the reasons mentioned in the previous 250 posts), since we live in essentially a quasi-hierarchical model, leaders do have an important role in fostering collaboration and finding workable solutions.

But who do we "hire" as leaders and what should their qualifications be?

Well first, it would be an important asset to be someone who can find common attributes between concepts, ideas, organizations and people.

What makes us similar? How can Group A assist Group B? How can I make the "situation" good for everyone? How do I create a "dynamic" atmosphere for continued positive growth and sustainability.

What we don't need is, hire me I have all the answers and I'll take care of your every need. That's too easy and too dangerous.

Democracy and sustainability require hard work and accountability on all levels.

Do we even train folks to be "meta-leaders?" Do our leaders engage in "meta think" or are they victims of the expedient. Do we allow long term, broad based action to take time to develop properly? Do we give ourselves a chance to be successful?

Do we need a whole new school to teach "meta interdisciplinary thought and action."

On Long Island, as is the case elsewhere, we need leaders who can "connect the dots" across disciplines and forge collaborative partnerships divorced from competitive, political or personal issues.

Every area, whether its a state, county or any geographic region can not be the same. All have unique attributes.

With all due respect to states rights folks, if for example, state A is better suited for project Y, shouldn't we as a nation support state A be successful? Shouldn't all states support one another in maximizing what they do best? If all states are successful, isn't our nation successful?

Shouldn't a meta-leader, on any level, be able to help conceptualize and help implement a collaborative effort to achieve these goals?

The ideal in America is one of fairness and equity. A meta-leader who can inspire these ideals is worth listening to. A meta-leader who can help turn these ideals into reality is worth "hiring."

More in part III

Friday, June 20, 2008

Long Island Referendum Cycle: Part Two

We've been advocating a more "dynamic" form of organization on Long Island on this site (and since 1993) with a whole host of interconnected ideas.

So why propose a referendum cycle?

A cycle of referenda on major issues, either one per year or multiple per year, ensures that ideas, information and analysis are continually reviewed, updated and subject to public debate and modification.

This cycle requires, even forces public participation and debate on the issues that govern Long Island.

No issue can be "put on the shelf" for too long. Information is not allowed to get "stale."

"Finger pointing" and the "blame game" will subside as citizens feel more "empowered" and less "dependent" on traditional forms of organization which many believe have not been adequate to address current issues.

More in Part Three.

Please note: This is our 250th post.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Collaborative Rationalism: Part One

Interesting article today on turning Long Island's downtowns into more interesting places to live and work.

Contained in the article is this quote:

“Everything is so interconnected, so you feel sometimes that you can’t fix anything until you fix everything,” said Mayor Ernest J. Strada of the village of Westbury, talking at one point about a zoning question, but really addressing a deeper issue — the lack of a central planning authority on Long Island, a problem that exists in many suburbs. Each of the more than 100 communities of Nassau and Suffolk Counties have zoning and planning agencies that govern development within their own borders."

Also in the paper today is Nassau County's interest in redeveloping 105 acres it owns in Bethpage. Perhaps someone will propose a "cool downtown" with "next generation" housing adjoining "21st Century" business opportunities. Time will tell.

Mayor Strada is correct in stating that "everything is interconnected." But then again, it always was. There's just more of it now.

Also true is the fact that there is no central planning authority on Long Island, but don't hold your breath waiting for one anytime soon. That would take almost an act of nature to accomplish.

What we can strive for and are attempting to strive for in the One Long Island series of idea is something akin to a new "collaborative rationalism."

If we define:



1. Reliance on reason as the best guide for belief and action.

2. Philosophy The theory that the exercise of reason, rather than experience, authority, or spiritual revelation, provides the primary basis for knowledge.


intr.v. col·lab·o·rat·ed, col·lab·o·rat·ing, col·lab·o·rates

1. To work together, especially in a joint intellectual effort.

then we may define "collaborative rationalism" as the act of working together for a common cause based on reason (facts, meta data , analysis etc) and furthermore using this "collaborative rationalism" as a basis for our Long Island Philosophy and the main driving force behind a better more sustainable future for Long Island.

So if there are 100 communities each with their own zoning map, there is no reason why we can not, as a first step create a "meta zoning map" of Long Island, using comparative mathematical formulae, algorithms to "pierce the maze" of zoning regulations and find equivalencies across Long Island.

For example a "B Zone and related regulations" in North Hempstead is equivalent what zone or zones in Smithtown?

It is a reasonable easy project to come up with a Long Island Meta Zoning map (or Long Island Comprehensive Meta-Planning Project or any one of a dozen similar names we might name this concept). It might not be perfect but is is doable and would be a useful first step.

More in part II.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Some excellent ideas ...

I just returned from New York Institute of Technology's "Sustainable Solutions for Converging Crises" conference.

While all the presenters were excellent, two presenters in particular stood out as having great relevancy and potentially effective applications for Long Island.

Project Better Place is a brilliant concept for the distribution of electric automobiles.

Daniel Lerch of the Post Carbon Institute has written a very clearly thought out book regarding the energy crisis and its impact on public policy.

Both sites are well worth your time and effort.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Long Island Next Generation Housing Referendum?

"Many LI leaders are present and accounted for here (only the first half-hour was available for preview), including Nancy Rauch Douzinas, president of the Rauch Foundation; Paul Pontieri Jr., mayor of Patchogue; Matt Crosson, Long Island Association president (and co-host of Ch. 21's "Crosson and Welles"); Wayne Hall, mayor of Hempstead, and many others. Crosson, speaking tonight, sets the table with this thought: "Long Island is losing young people at the same time the baby boomer [retirement] tsunami is beginning, [and] we will be in serious trouble. ... The Island's economy depends on the availability of young people in the workforce, and if we don't have that, the cost of living goes even higher, and [business] growth will be virtually impossible."

The consequence of this vicious cycle is a decline in housing prices."

Good show and well worth watching.

As stated previously, affordable housing for young people is perhaps the top issue facing the economic viability of Long Island.

How about this for an idea.

Long Islanders have shown that they are willing to support environmental and open space bonds by an overwhelming majority.

What if the same procedure was applied to the issue of workforce or next generation housing?

How about the "Next Generation Housing Referendum?" If the problem is as acute as many believe and many believe that the public is in favor of changes to permit higher density development, then perhaps we should provide a forum to raise the capital quickly (it can be a revolving fund, replenished as the units are sold).

The units can be constructed on existing state, local and federal property (at least in the beginning to get the process jump started) which are exempt for the most part from local zoning restrictions. If, as we've been told, Long Island needs upwards of 100,000 units of workforce housing, then swift, decisive "public supported" action needs to take place.

Another option is to use the referendum funding (presuming the referendum passes) to purchase property, convert it to municipal property for the purposes of building the housing (payment in lieu of taxes to the community), then return it to private hands via homeowners association or other device where it then returns to the taxrolls.

The referendum "board of managers" should be comprised primarily of citizens, business leaders and others who would determine and ensure a fair process.

If as strong a case can be made that a "next generation" fund is required for the long term health of Long Island as was made for open space preservation, then passage should be a relatively simple affair.

Part of the reason private sector incentives have not worked or have only had minimal impact is that there just isn't the return on investment for workforce housing as there is for traditional housing.

Additionally, there is some question in the public's mind as to the extent of the need. A full and complete debate within the context of a referendum would allow a clearer picture of the need and the solutions.

Of course I've oversimplified the issue and there are many details to be worked out, but if the retention of younger Long Islanders is a true priority, then the government, with the consent and support of the citizens must take decisive and direct action in accomplishing the task at hand.

Monday, May 26, 2008

SUNY Ideas ...

"One argument that SUNY leaders make - and it will be easier to make the case once a new permanent chancellor is finally selected - is that public higher education is never more important than in tough economic times. For one thing, people losing jobs rely on SUNY schools for retraining. For another, the campuses - like Stony Brook, Farmingdale, Old Westbury, and the community colleges in Nassau and Suffolk here on Long Island - have a huge impact on the economy. So this is a bad time to slow that economic engine."

Good editorial above on SUNY.

As important is the need to restructure the way the state allows for the commercialization of research coming out of its system in a manner similar to California and other states.

There is a treasure trove of great ideas and products available to New York coming out of the SUNY system, but there must be a rational incentive for both inventors and the taxpayers of the state.

The "Green Business Accelerator" concept we proposed for Stony Brook is just one model of what can be accomplished.

Opening up the the commercialization of intellectual property coming out of SUNY is a great way to offset SUNY budget cuts, pour money into the state economy, develop new business and new business models, create good jobs among many other benefits.

The current system provides little incentive and too many roadblocks to innovation.

For a state that prides itself on being a world leader in many areas, the current situation at SUNY is a threat to this continuing quest for excellence.

Friday, May 23, 2008

More progress ... I think ...

Some additional partially complete tunes for my new CD.

Fool for Punishment

Most Unusual Turn of Events

Average Man

Yes, I will finish all 14 of them this summer. I hope.

Then on to the next group of 14 and the boxes of unrecorded stuff as well.

May I can finish them all by the time I'm 84 or so if I don't compose anything else.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Long Island Independent Media Consortium: Part Two

So we have all these different organizations on Long Island, all with varying degrees of technical expertise and many on different seemingly incompatible systems.

What to do?

They key to making this all work is to "build bridges" using a "common language."

What do we mean by a common language? We mean giving Long Islanders the tools necessary to engage in productive, positive public discourse in a flexible, collaborative manner. These tools include all the Web 2.0 and Web 3.0 tools and concepts contained with One Long Island.

Gee. we can't get all that done right now, so what can we do?

Start simply. First get all web sites and blogs up to Web 2.0 standards. This may be as simple as adding an XML feed to your site or creating a free blog and linking it to your existing site.

Secondly, talk to your organization about how and who it would be advantageous for you to collaborate with and the subject areas of collaboration of most interest to you. Do not just limit it to organizations or individuals within your own field of expertise.

These are the starting points for high level Long Island "end user" operated media service. It also creates an environment for all types of innovative collaboration.

After all, the idea is to get things done, not just talk, write or do studies about them, isn't it?

The Long Island Independent Media Consortium idea is really just part of one larger idea of creating a Long Island Philosophy. One that will give our citizens the skills, hope and courage necessary to make the substantive change required for a positive future on Long Island.

More in Part Three.

On a separate note here is how my new CD project is progressing. A few tunes in various stages of completion ...

Did You Think I Was Surprised?

You Better Treat Me Right

Prelude 3a

Monday, May 19, 2008

Long Island Independent Media Consortium: Crowdsourcing

Excellent site for "crowdsourcing" an idea we had explored in earlier posts.

These ideas are directly on point for our "Long Island Independent Media Consortium" concept.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Prelude 3a

Just something else I've been working on here ...

Long Island Independent Media Consortium: Part One

Another way to look at the recent Cablevision - Newsday "merger" and its effect on the diversity of content, advertising rates and a whole host of other issues, is as an opportunity to create a new business model for the delivery of media services on Long Island.

As we've stated many times previously, there are a ton of smart folks on Long Island with great ideas and relevant, informed opinions.

It's really a shame to waste the intelligence and ingenuity of our own citizens and counterproductive to the future health of Long Island not to put these folks "to work."

How about "Get the Whole Story at the Long Island Independent Media Consortium"?

There are also many fine organizations on Long Island.

There are many fine local publications, websites and blogs on Long Island.

There is plenty of capital on Long Island.

So what's missing?

Collaboration among and between autonomous bodies. Once folks get the idea that we can collaborate without losing our individual, organizational or corporate "identity" or "brand" the power of such a collaborative movement will be self-evident.

More in Part Two.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

If you build it ... Part Two

So much of the news and information we receive is "bundled" and delivered from multiple sources.

Those of us who use RSS/XML readers on a regular basis know that there is a universe of information out there to be delivered in virtual real time for those willing to do a little exploration.

So if we were constructing a Long Island news and information "portal" or a series of collaborative "portals" what would we need to do?

First of all, let's be clear. The news and information is already generated by us. We may pay others for a service to distribute it and analyze it, but we are the news and information. 

This is not to diminish what media folks do or a particular expertise they may bring to a particular subject, but without us they're out of business. Much as we elect representatives from the various forms of government to work for our common interests and confer that privilege upon them, so too do we confer the same privilege upon the media.

Much of what we've discussed over the past year or so (even back to 1993 for that matter) is directly applicable to this particular product. In fact we've explored this theme with the Citizen Media and Citizen Alert posts (among many others) some time ago. I tend to see most of this as inter-related.

A good portion of information is free and one can very easily create a robust information portal and in fact can create a portal that the end user (us) can customize to their own particular viewing preferences. 

Moreover we can integrate LYDIA technology (as we are in a number of One Long Island projects already) to create a powerful news and information analysis tool.

The individual will be able to discern what is accurate and factual. How about that!

Ah ha you say, what about the hard hitting investigative reporting we all need to make sure those in high places are not up to low down and dirty deeds!

Again. Think of where most of the leads come from to expose wrong doing. That's right. You and me.

Will we always need professional investigative journalists? Of course. But they are simply an outgrowth of an investigative public, active and knowledgeable in its own affairs with access to the information and tools necessary in a representative democracy. 

We really shouldn't depend on journalists or elected officials or others to do our homework for us.

Am I advocating the dissolution of all profit based media? No. Advertising dollars pay salaries. Reporters aren't going to work for free. Someone has to gather up even the "bundled" news although over time this need may dissipate as well.

Am I advocating the fact that an organized and collaborative public can inform itself on an equal, or in some cases superior manner? Yes.

More in Part Three.

Monday, May 12, 2008

If you build it ... Part One

But, he said, while the deal will "please" shareholders, "unfortunately for the consumer, both editorially and financially, it is never a good idea to let one media conglomerate control pricing and editorial content."

OK so I don't pretend to be a media expert.

But it strikes me as a lot of doom and gloom that only "one player" will control the news and editorial content for all of Long Island.

Sure Newsday and Cablevision have great brand ID and a lot of smart folks working for them.

Why don't I worry?

Because it is very easy to create a competitor network (or collaborative networks) constructed out of the many content sources we have here on Long Island.

What news do people really want? My experience is first they want the news that most effects their immediate daily life. "Hyperlocalism" is a buzz word often used to describe the web based confluence of news, information, video etc, focused on a "finite" location or area of interest. Do folks in Sayville care about what's happening in Bayville? Maybe a little, but not a lot.

Next maybe they are interested in a regional perspective and so forth almost like expanding waves of knowledge gathering.

Most national and international news, sports, entertainment news etc is provided from a wide array of organizations and sources predominately through XML (extensible markup language) or some similar protocol which updates news almost as it happens. Most of this information is free to use for non-profit enterprises and for a nominal fee for profit oriented enterprises.

Next opinion. Look everybody has an opinion. Hopefully its an informed opinion. There are tons of blogs, podcasts, video what have you out there giving opinions on almost anything you can think of. What if, for example, you set up a rotating multiple xml feed of ten food critics? Wouldn't that be better than one? Wouldn't that give the public a better view of what's out there?

In fact, why should we be limited by any one group's point of view or control over the distribution of content?

How about (as we've explored previously) a rotating editorial board made up of regular citizens and members of various organizations of let's say 20 at a time, rotating through every 60 days on staggered shifts? It can actually be a "virtual" editorial board able to meet on a moments notice. Wouldn't this ensure that all voices are heard and that there is a true diversity of opinion made available? Why should only a few folks have all the fun!

Additionally, there is the issue of trust. Does the general public (or anyone for that matter) trust that the information they are getting is accurate and presented fairly?

My belief is that the more power (information is power) in the greater number of hands the greater the likelihood is that we will have an equal playing field for the debate of ideas that will shape our future.

Toward this end we have a number of "One Long Island" projects underway and in the planning stages that would make the creation of this "Long Island independent information and news" project a reality.

Would it replace existing news institutions? No. There would be no purpose in that as the existing institutions provide an important service and one that many folks depend upon.

But there is room for improvement and real diversity of news, opinion and thought on Long Island.

It is possible to create a reliable collaborative Long Island news and information network that is, among other things, accessible, flexible and accurate.

More in Part Two.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Putting the "public" in public media ...

The "public" as subsidizer of the news business? The "public" as a monolithic "object" in league with the media?

Or the "public" we envision in our "One Long Island" projects?

"....While it is the only business protected by the Constitution, the press isn’t shielded from the laws of supply and demand. If the current business model isn’t working, then it’s because the distribution of news has radically changed, allowing those with Internet access to dictate their news content.

Judy and Mickey are not going to be able to save Newsday, and the idea of a local media collective is dead on arrival. The future of Newsday will be decided by veteran financial professionals, seasoned media analysts, digital marketers, government regulators and, most importantly, by the market forces that are shaping how and who gets their news.

If Rupert Murdoch and his News Corp. are the front-runners in a bid that comes in at over half a billion dollars, then it’s because he understands economy of scale, the impact of digital media on traditional print and how to ensure that people still want a newspaper in their hands. Others suggest that Daily News publisher Mortimer Zuckerman, the New York Observer or Cablevision will all make a run. All of them will find a lucrative local market.

Newspapers in America have always been a business. If we prop them up with government subsidies and shotgun business models we might as well bring back the telegraph and the tintype, but the end result will still be obsolescence."

"The public is an idea, which would never have occurred to people in ancient times, for the people themselves en masse in corpore <8 took steps in any active situation, and bore responsibility for each individual among them, and each individual had to personally, without fail, present himself and submit his decision immediately to approval or disapproval. When first a clever society makes concrete reality into nothing, then the Media 9 creates that abstraction, "the public," which is filled with unreal individuals, who are never united nor can they ever unite simultaneously in a single situation or organization, yet still stick together as a whole. The public is a body, more numerous than the people which compose it, but this body can never be shown, indeed it can never have only a single representation, because it is an abstraction. Yet this public becomes larger, the more the times become passionless and reflective and destroy concrete reality; this whole, the public, soon embraces everything. . . .

The public is not a people, it is not a generation, it is not a simultaneity, it is not a community, it is not a society, it is not an association, it is not those particular men over there, because all these exist because they are concrete and real; however, no single individual who belongs to the public has any real commitment; some times during the day he belongs to the public, namely, in those times in which he is nothing; in those times that he is a particular person, he does not belong to the public. Consisting of such individuals, who as individuals are nothing, the public becomes a huge something, a nothing, an abstract desert and emptiness, which is everything and nothing. . . .

The Media is an abstraction (because a newspaper is not concrete and only in an abstract sense can be considered an individual), which in association with the passionlessness and reflection of the times creates that abstract phantom, the public, which is the actual leveller. . . . More and more individuals will, because of their indolent bloodlessness, aspire to become nothing, in order to become the public, this abstract whole, which forms in this ridiculous manner: the public comes into existence because all its participants become third parties.
10 This lazy mass, which understands nothing and does nothing, this public gallery seeks some distraction, and soon gives itself over to the idea that everything which someone does, or achieves, has been done to provide the public something to gossip about. . . . The public has a dog for its amusement. That dog is the Media. 11 If there is someone better than the public, someone who distinguishes himself, the public sets the dog on him and all the amusement begins. This biting dog tears up his coat-tails, and takes all sort of vulgar liberties with his leg—until the public bores of it all and calls the dog off. That is how the public levels."

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Long Island "Synthesis"

(Select for larger image)

Just another simplified way to look at what we're attempting to achieve with the One Long Island series of projects.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

More interesting reading ...

"No one starting from scratch would design a local government system like New York has
now, with its overlapping governments and rigid structure. This structure makes it
difficult – but not impossible – to define efficient service areas and to levy taxes or
assessments on those who are served. It creates some duplication of services and
functions. It creates opportunity for miscommunication and lack of coordination in
economic development and other policy areas.
Although it is not the system we would design today, it is the system we have.
Unfortunately, changing the system structurally is extraordinarily difficult: The political
hurdles in front of eliminating a village layer or merging a city and county are
extraordinarily high. City-county mergers in upstate New York would require merging
governments whose citizens are dramatically different in terms of race, poverty,
urbanicity, educational attainment, political inclination, and preferences for government
services. That doesn’t mean it cannot or should not be done, but clearly it will not easily
be done.
The quantifiable benefits of eliminating a layer or merging a city and county appear to be
low, often because of leveling up between collective bargaining agreements. Potential
cost savings, while certainly meaningful in dollar terms, can be small relative to
government budgets – on the order of 1 to 2 percent of spending, judging by available
dissolution and merger studies. While taxpayers certainly would welcome tax reductions
of this magnitude, historically they have rarely been willing to accept the intangible costs
of dissolution or consolidation for this level of tax reduction.
Each merger and dissolution situation must stand alone. New York’s local governments
vary enormously as do their service delivery and financing arrangements. Whether a
specific merger or dissolution will make sense from fiscal or other perspectives will
depend on its facts – there is no one size fits all solution. However, even if a merger or
dissolution appears sensible on its face, how it is implemented will matter. Careless
implementation can lead to inefficiency and waste.
Consolidations and dissolutions also involve a redistribution of service benefits and tax
costs. In a positive vein, one could say they involve equity issues, but another
characterization is that they produce winners and losers."

Bottom line. If you don't build trust based upon verifiable information and analysis and give citizens a sense of common purpose and inclusion, change is almost impossible.