Now THAT’S what I call a big project. WikiCity announced last month the launch of, well, WikiCity, which plans to have 22,000 Wikis to cover 22,000 cities, towns, and villages in the US. It’s available at http://www.WikiCity.com.
From the front page you can browse for cities or just dive in a search. 22,000’s an awful lot to browse but at least that way you can see how many Springfields there are. I decided to take a look at Kennebunk, Maine.
Now, the problem with sites like this is that they look woefully unpopulated until they attract enough attention for some community building. WikiCity has pre-populated each city’s page with standard information like weather, local news, and maps, but with also more unusual information like Twitter feeds and data from Wikipedia. The Twitter feeds appear to be keyword based, which doesn’t always work (ala Fate, Texas) so I’m surprised that WikiCity didn’t try a location-based Twitter search instead, like near:04043 within:15mi, to pull local tweets. (You don’t have add keywords to location-based searches in Twitter.)
Actually I’m also kind of surprised WikiCity didn’t do something similar for the news search, which appears to rely on Google News. Sure you can do a regular search for Kennebunk ME, but you’re going to get a lot of irrelevance. Why not location:me Kennebunk? Or, if you don’t want to be restricted to Maine news sources, intitle:kennebunk maine? Or use Topix?
ANYWAY, there’s plenty of prepopulating information here and that’s good. For the rest of it, WikiCity has built an information infrastructure for each city: sports, schools, politics, etc. There’s a food section here that has brief listings in it (mostly just contact information) but it’s not clear from the listings where the data came from.
It remains to be seen how many communities will choose to use WikiCity — it’s throwing an awfully big loop. But if just a little more were done to prepopulate the infrastructure — how are the calendars being populated? Can you get more business listings in there? — it could act on its own as a reference resource for communities, and perhaps bring attention and activity to itself that way.