L.A. Currents is a digital news publication about life in Los Angeles. Our aim is to to chart the changing face of Los Angeles by melding technology and storytelling. We report on important local people, institutions, and trends. Since our beta launch in November, we have seen our traffic double every month.
We recently announced a content-and-community partnership with USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, and together we are coordinating our local L.A. coverage. This type of collaboration — in which a journalism program serves as an anchor institution for a local, upstart media company — is an innovative way for graduate students to get real-world experience and hands-on training while allowing a media company to get its sea legs in a rather unstable media marketplace.
Additionally, L.A. Currents is currently the only West Coast partner of The Guardian’s n0tice technology, which allows us to engage our readers in new and innovative ways. We have cast a wide net to our area’s creative community, and our stable of professional writers includes traditional reporters, bloggers, screenwriters, essayists, and fiction writers.
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1 Submitted Idea
- 2013 Grants Challenge
We are living in a golden age of cartography. Google, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), location-based services, and the explosion of so-called big data have combined to create a wellspring of information that — if utilized with ethics, intelligence, and vision — can provide customized, actionable intelligence for local communities in real time. If Los Angeles really is just a “patchwork of disparate communities,” then the goal should be to bind these communities as one. For thousands of years, maps have served as a unifying tool and as a cornerstone of a knowledge-based society born from the Enlightenment.
Our idea is to create the most information-rich, dynamic, and engaging digital map of Los Angeles’ neighborhoods that has ever existed. This map would be platform agnostic, primarily Web-based but also customized for mobile phones and e-readers, and built in an open-source coding language such as Django, a high-level Python Web framework.
We would start by promoting a request for proposal that calls for local artists to submit designs of a large, comprehensive map of Los Angeles. An online, crowd-sourced competition would select the winning design. Hyperlinks embedded within the actual map would connect users to dozens of specific community pages representing and supporting the unique features of individual neighborhoods and communities.
The depth, texture, and relevance of the information provided on each community page is limitless, but the goal is simple: Provide local citizens with an invaluable resource to learn more about their immediate communities while engaging one another, the city at large, and their elected officials.
Imagine a single destination where you could find out how much green space is available to your kids, what the teacher-to-student ratio is at your local high school, what building permits have been issued for construction, where you could find opportunities to volunteer, what the agenda is for the upcoming school board meeting, or whether the crime rate in your neighborhood is rising or falling, Then imagine a way to complement that information in a dynamic forum where you could exchange ideas, comments, goods, even your best recipes.
Companies like Google, Esri, and Fwix have created a powerful technological foundation for these smart maps, but a vital, localized service requires customization, collaboration with local entities (both public and private), and a deeply nuanced understanding of the neighborhoods and communities targeted. That is the complementary value that L.A. Currents can provide to this project.