Archive for the customer service Category

It’s our turn: tech tools for government

Posted in customer service, open government, politics, WikiWay with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on November 23, 2008 by Pete Forsyth

I’m working on a piece of legislation, and we need your help. It’s something that will help us all make Oregon, and the rest of the world, a better and more prosperous place to live. Please add your name to the page linked above, and please also consider pitching in to develop the bill!

In recent years, I’ve been amazed by all the exciting new ways of developing idea that are emerging new technology. I spend way too much of my time writing and editing articles on Wikipedia; I read blogs, and ask questions in the comments; and obviously, I’ve taken a crack at keeping my own blog. I check in on what my friends are saying on a couple times a day; I listen to talk radio shows, and call in or email when it seems like they’re missing something. And pretty often, I meet and get to physically shake hands with someone that I’ve known for months or years, and worked with extensively.

But at the same time, I’ve been pretty disappointed by how little government seems to take advantage of these kinds of tools for innovation, policy development, disseminating information, and generally keeping people up to date with what’s going on in their world and how they can change it. There are some rays of hope, but by and large, government approach to the Internet is still struggling to catch up to 1995.

This January, with a fresh crop of legislators heading to Salem, we have a chance to work for a kind of change that will help us all stay better-informed about what our government is doing, and about how to influence it in our areas of passion and expertise. The Obama supporters among us may be shouting “Yes We Did,” but I believe that “Yes We Can” remains the better phrase. We may have succeeded in electing a president who will be more open to innovative ideas, but our job of supplying those ideas — and developing the same kinds of conditions on a local level — is just beginning.

The bill I’m working on — and hope you will help us work on — will address at least four areas: Continue reading

Mt. Tabor: Architectural design concepts

Posted in customer service, open government, politics, WikiWay with tags , , , , , , , , on August 4, 2008 by Pete Forsyth
Dozens of citizens attended Opsis presentation of the concepts, 8/2/08.

Dozens of citizens attended Opsis' presentation of the concepts, 8/2/08.

The Mt. Tabor Central Yard & Nursery Planning Group’s architect, Opsis, recently presented six draft “concepts” for our proposed redesign of the Mt. Tabor Central Yard and Nursery. These concepts are intended as resources as we work toward a final proposal.

Here, I have rendered the concepts using mapping software. This allows you to click on things to view notes, zoom in, etc. Hope this is a useful tool for evaluating and refining the concepts.

These are not yet complete; please let me know about any additions, corrections, or clarifications needed.

The percentages refer to the amount of program needs that are met by each approach; 6% is equivalent to 1 acre.

Concept A1

Concepts A1 and A2 look at what fits into 7 acres within a fence, with greenhouse/head house & container garden on upper nursery. They also consider the addition of a community garden in the Long Block, and improvements to open spaces. 84% of program needs met in A1.


Continue reading

Personal Telco, your 15 minutes of fame await…

Posted in City Hall, customer service, open government, politics, WikiWay with tags , , , , , , , , , on August 1, 2008 by Pete Forsyth

Personal Telco is one of Portland’s coolest non-profits. Back in 2001, they envisioned a community-owned alternative to telephone and Internet connectivity. But the tech world has evolved. In 2008, Personal Telco is a local — and maybe international — leader in advocating and building a “share-and-share alike” system for traditional Internet connectivity.

The theory is simple: lots of people have broadband Internet these days, and many of those same people like having Internet connections for their laptops when they’re out on the town.

So if all those folks would just open their home or business connections to the public, easy access fromjust about anywhere would become a reality, pretty quick. In fact, the project’s already well on its way; Personal Telco has a number of live hotspots, or “nodes,” all over town, with lots of Portlanders using them on a daily basis.

MetroFi, a for-profit company, tried to provide a similar, ad-supported service in partnership with the City of Portland over the last few years. But that project just went belly-up this summer. So with a rising number of Portlanders still seeking ubiquitous wi-fi, it’s Personal Telco’s turn to step into the limelight, and deliver the kind of service that may really only be feasible through voluntary collaboration, rather than an ad-driven business model.

Key to Personal Telco’s plan, in my view, is a shift in its emphasis. In the early years, Personal Telco sought to draw in a small number of really motivated and intelligent people, to take on the significant technical hurdles to deploying lots of free wireless. They were successful in their efforts; lots of geeks stepped up, and lots of free wireless has been delivered in the last few years. Their system works, and it’s ready for significant expansion.

But for that, what Personal Telco needs is a little different: with their elite squad of propellerheads in place, what is needed now is a rising tide of do-gooders willing to pitch in just a little, without the need to get all technical, attend monthly meetings, or the like. Lots of people doing a little bit of work is the order of the day. Get your node set up, and leave some time for an evening stroll; your node will serve friends and neighbors for years with little or no maintenance.

In order to achieve that, I think Personal Telco needs a new “elevator pitch.” Their web site, any printed materials, any contact with the press, etc. should reflect a very clear, very simple message: “our work brings you free wireless, and we’d love you to pitch in a little and help us deliver more free wireless.” 

To that end, I have written a draft of text for a new front page for their web site. Please read on, and if you’re so inclined, offer any feedback in the comments below. Many in the Personal Telco community have indicated general approval, but I’m sure there are lots of wrinkles to iron out.

Portland has a unique chance to build an invaluable free network, through community collaboration; let’s get it right this time! Continue reading

Customer service in 2008: opportunities and pitfalls, exhibit A

Posted in customer service, open messaging with tags , , , , , on July 30, 2008 by Pete Forsyth

In the vein of my recent blog post on “open messaging,” is an interesting little vignette involving Comcast customer service.

I posted a question yesterday on Twitter, to see if any of my friends (or anybody else who happened to be listening) knew how to resolve a weird networking problem I was having with my Comcast Internet service.

Moments later, I found that somebody was listening — an account called “ComcastCares” (CCC). A little creepy at first, but not surprising in this connected world I inhabit.

Anyway, score one for Comcast — in effect, tech support called me, instead of the other way around. That’s pretty cool.

But the game wasn’t over. Having a clearly interested audience, I mentioned my one major problem with Comcast, something which frequently influences my decisions when I advise clients and friends about their Internet service: Comcast forbids sharing an Internet connection, even for free, outside the premises. (Even if your wireless router happens to have a strong enough signal that it does that by default.) Continue reading