Join us at Tyler Mini Maker Faire on March 23rd!
Hack Tyler will have a table at the first ever Tyler Mini Maker Faire on March 23rd. I’ll be demoing and discussing any and all of the Hack Tyler apps, with a particular focus on the fact that projects like the ones on this site are something anyone (with enough tenacity) can learn to do. Drop by, chat with me about Tyler, suggest new projects and ask any questions you have. If you’re...
Notes and happenings
I suppose it is obvious at this point that Hack Tyler has been on the back burner for some time now. In September I started working as a News Applications Developer for NPR and around the same time I began a period of near-constant travel that lasted almost three months. The relative inactivity is likely to remain the norm for the foreseeable future. That being said, there are several interesting...
Let's just do nothing then
Downtown Tyler, seen through the lens of JoshEwwAhh. (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) I’ve tried to make a habit of keeping easily-politicized opinions away from this blog. For this post I am throwing that all out the window to tell you what I think. Why? In a word: frustration. There is a wonderful potential in Tyler. It has the raw elements of a great, little city, but this potential is being...
Hack Tyler has a posse
It has been almost a year since I made a big fuss about moving to Tyler and started on this crazy project of contorting the place to me and myself to it. This project has been fantastically successful. Sure, I’ve lost a few battles, but I’ve also genuinely come to enjoy living here. This is in large part due to the community of engaged and thoughtful people who’ve sought me out...
The wealth of property
Note: This post was revised at 10:30 AM to remove vacant lots from the data and map. All calculations have been adjusted. (Thanks, Justin!) Property tax records are a frequently overlooked resource for regional demographic data. In particular, they can provide a window into distribution of wealth, something census data does a poor job of illustrating. In Tyler, as in most places, property tax...
What I will not be doing next
In January I had an opportunity to turn Hack Tyler into something more than it is today. It was a chance to elevate the effort to a higher profile, pursue larger projects and even gain some modest financial support. I planned extensively for this chance, wrote a careful announcement letter to the city council and solicited advice from many friends and colleagues. I have decided not to pursue this...
Tyler Sirens: a visual police scanner
Launch Tyler Sirens » Tyler Sirens presents nearly-up-to-the-minute incident report data from Tyler Police Department. However, if it were just that it wouldn’t be much different from the Tyler Morning Telegraph’s Police Call Map. What Tyler Sirens adds is real-time updates. If you leave your window open and a report comes in (or is updated), the map will instantly update and...
My feet on Tyler's sidewalks (map!)
I am in Tyler. While waiting I passed five months, wrote eight blog posts, and hacked four apps. Now I’m in a new place with new responsibilities and expectations, but most importantly, I’m back with the kid in this picture: Sometime soon I will reflect on my impressions of Tyler, but first I want to celebrate the change by writing about something that was central to my original...
Hacking local business: observations on Smith...
I try to avoid thinking about economics. It’s not a subject of contemplation that I enjoy. Nevertheless, my choices are driven in part by economics. The stress of personal economics contributed to my wife and I separating. It influenced her decision to move to Tyler and my capacity to follow. Economics, in this case a lease, is what kept me from moving earlier in the summer. And, of course,...
2010 Census: Racial diversity in Smith County...
Note: It has been nearly six weeks since I last wrote on Hack Tyler. I expected some of this for the reasons outlined in my last post, however, the delay was extended by a two week period during which I thought I might not be moving to Tyler after all. This has turned out not to be the case. The exact dates are still undetermined, but I will be moving in the Fall. Since starting Hack Tyler...
Research and [Barriers to] Development
I’m somewhat reticent to admit that the pace of Hack Tyler development has slowed and will likely remain that way for a month or two. I spent the last week packing and cleaning. My wife and son have moved and transported the majority of my belongings with them. My things are now waiting for me in a storage unit in Tyler. As a consequence, I have only my netbook to hack on and no desk space...
Delivering the beta
Under ordinary circumstances I would have released a first beta of this app weeks ago. I was dissuaded both by the shifting landscape of data as well as by my concern that someone in Tyler might actually try to use it to catch the bus and fail due to its incompleteness. I’m confident now that it sufficiently advertises its failures (lack of Saturday schedules, for example) to prevent this....
Data, suddenly available
Hack Tyler is an idea born out of pragmatism and self-exorcism, but underlying that are my beliefs about open governments, open data and the power of public service. One of the more persuasive statements of this ethos I’ve heard is “Public Equals Online”, the name of the Sunlight Foundation’s 2010 campaign for government transparency. Its not enough that governments produce...
Hacking Tyler Transit
Why bus schedules? In my first post I named them at the top of my list of datasets I would like to build on. I also mentioned that I intended to avoid buying a car once I moved, a statement that provoked significant eye-rolling. I’ve been told that no one rides the bus in Tyler or that only poor people do. A fellow hacker who grew up Tyler told me he didn’t even know they had a bus...
Everything begins with data
A week’s gone by since I sparked an unexpected ruckus with my inaugural Hack Tyler post. I had no idea it was going to find resonance with so many people. I’ve received comments from coders, journalists, and government wonks of all stripes. Even more exciting, I’ve heard from a diverse cast of current and former citizens of Tyler—some wild about my ideas and some…...
To find myself in the other place
Somewhere along the way some important things got right and truly fucked up. My wife and I are getting divorced. At the end of June she and my son will move from Chicago to Tyler, Texas. I’ve contemplated a lot of reactions to this change and I’ve decided to: Let her go. Follow him. If the personal and moral intuitions aren’t obvious to you, I don’t think I can...