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Burton Barr Library is back

Burton Barr Library is open again.

Phoenix’s central Burton Barr Library is back open again after nearly a year of repairs due to inadequate maintenance of its fire suppression system. The chickens of sprawl paying for itself are coming home to roost.

For now, the building is better than it was when it opened in 1995. It is ready to be Phoenix’s central library for many more decades to come.

Burton Barr Library elevators - Reopening Day 16 June 2018

Twitter nonsense

Can someone explain today’s Twitter nonsense?

[Updated 16 June 2018 at bottom] Can someone explain Twitter? Not in the “you can share 140 280-character snippets of daily life” sense, but in the “what is going on with that platform?” sense? As I see it, it’s a bunch of Twitter nonsense.

Earlier this morning, I get around to changing my password on Twitter because they were leaked out. Now, I should back up to say that I signed off from Twitter at the end of 2017 because I had thought Twitter had become more noise than signal and, frankly, had outlived its usefulness for me. Not to mention that Twitter had some pretty murky reasons for defending hate speech, something that made me uncomfortable. (To be fair, their guidelines changed earlier this year.) As I thought about signing back in and breaking my Twitter silence in April, I read that they were changing their API so that my usual Twitter client, Tweetbot, would be significantly limited to access the service.

So fast-forward to this morning. As I sign in to change my password, I’m presented with this graphic:

My account, @edwardjensen, has been suspended with no reason or rationale given for its suspension. The help pages are pathetically useless, only giving roundabout reasons for suspending an account. I had not received any advance warning in my email about this suspension. It’s not that the account has been sitting dormant for too long: the Twitter account for The Downtown Phoenix Podcast (@dtphxpodcast) last updated on 31 December 2016. It couldn’t have been for content as the last post on my personal Twitter account was on 31 December 2017. Did someone report my account? Again, why wasn’t I notified?

The moral of the story is this: When you use an external service, you’re at their mercy for what they will allow or disallow and often times, it’s a random mess based on their algorithms and what those services think they want you to see. When social media started moving away from chronological post feeds to an algorithm-driven “news feed,” that’s the moment when we lost it. When social media started removing human editors from the equation to curate what happened in favor of computer processes, that’s also the moment when we lost it. When social media started pay-to-play to get more eyeballs on posts, we lost an egalitarian community message board and went to a plutocratic space.

The point of this mini essay is this: When you create content, unless you’re hosting it on a platform that’s wholly under your control, there’s no guarantee that it will be out there in the future.

That should give everyone pause. Because today’s Twitter nonsense might have greater ramifications for society tomorrow.

[Edited to add: On 16 June 2018, my Twitter account was unlocked. In the email from Twitter support, “[It] looks like your account got caught up in one of these spam groups by mistake. This sometimes happens when an account exhibits automated behavior in violation of the Twitter Rules (https://twitter.com/rules).” In reviewing the Twitter Rules, I can’t find out what I specifically did to have Twitter’s algorithms think my account is a spammy account. That should give people even more pause.]

The Next Mayor of Phoenix

Now that Greg Stanton has resigned, the process begins to elect the next Mayor of the City of Phoenix. In a multi-part series of essays, we’ll explore the challenges that face Phoenix.

The Next Mayor of Phoenix graphicIt’s been a bit quiet on this blog to start out 2018. Sorry about that. But the big news is that now-former Phoenix mayor Greg Stanton has resigned, kicking off the process to elect the next mayor of Phoenix.

In the weeks ahead, this blog will explore some of the major issues that are facing Phoenix and Phoenix City Hall for the upcoming 15-20 years. These are issues that, if not addressed very soon, will lead to major problems for Phoenix. This blog will explore issues like climate change, leap-frog sprawl, water, and even Phoenix’s form of government.

Do stay tuned over the coming weeks for some in-depth analysis of Phoenix.

State of Midtown Phoenix 2017

These remarks on the state of Midtown Phoenix were given at the Midtown Neighborhood Association Annual Meeting in December 2017.

[author’s note: The following remarks were given to the Midtown Neighborhood Association at its Annual Meeting earlier this week.]

As both an Association and as a geographic place, 2017 marked Midtown’s best year yet. Not only did we put on our usual two successful events – Sunday Off Central in March and our fifth Urban Living Tour in November – but we paved the way for future programs and projects to advance Midtown’s standing in Phoenix and the metropolitan area. In the last couple of months, we have reached out to kindred organizations to reaffirm who we are and to break away from that typical Phoenix condition wherein organizations and neighborhoods don’t talk to each other and lift each other up as issues arise.

A great example of this is with our friends in downtown Phoenix. Many of us will be aware of the consternation that has been raised by the BMO Tower sign. Whatever your views on top-of-building signage and their contribution to urban life, we all know that it’s been a great talking point for Midtown. We were able to join our friends at the Phoenix Downtown Neighborhood Alliance, our counterpart organization in that part of Phoenix, to put a hold on top-of-building signage until the City has created an equitable signage policy. The Midtown Neighborhood Association will be at that table.

We have also created a roundtable program for the Boards of Directors and general managers of the large high-rise and mid-rise condominium and co-operative associations in our neighborhood. Anchored by Tapestry on Central and Regency on Central, this roundtable will be a networking opportunity and idea-sharing platform for those involved in the governance and management of some of Phoenix’s largest and longest-running privately owned multifamily communities.

Our agenda in 2018 is going to be full and robust. Many of you will be aware that Park Central Mall is going to be renovated. As Midtowners, we will not be sitting idly by while a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity comes forth to reimagine such a large space of land in our own backyard. This project is too important for us to be on the sidelines and we will work with our partner organizations to make sure our Association’s interests and Midtown’s hopes and dreams are realized.

We will reach out to the arts organizations in our neighborhood, including those that were a part of the abortive “Central Arts District,” to launch a new engagement and advocacy program. Our neighborhood is home to cultural organizations that are some of the Southwest’s most important as well as traditional institutions that are breaking the mold and realizing great success doing so. Long-time observers and friends of this organization will recall that our original name was the “Midtown Museum District Neighborhood Association” as a celebration of that fact. Perhaps it’s time that they have an organization that celebrates the place and time these fêted organizations share with us.

We are also going to begin fundraising and development efforts for our Association. We are a neighborhood association with ambitions and ideas. Our current income strategy isn’t enough to support our hopes, dreams, drives, and ambitions. As a 501(c)(3) organization, your contributions to our organization are tax-deductible (at least for now…). If you’re interested in contributing to our organization,we’ll have information on our website, midtownphx.org.

I can’t imagine a better time to be a part of not only this organization but a resident of Midtown Phoenix. It’s a new day; let’s get to work.