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ABOUT THIS PROJECT

We the people would like to invite you into your own community. That’s right. Yours. Not your government’s, not your neighborhood’s, not your school’s. Yours. The people’s community. It’s called TownSource.org and it’s really neat, so give me just a minute of your time, and I’ll explain. 

THE NEED 
We live in the digital age now. It’s an age when personas are genuinely constructed on-screen. Relationships are formed and destroyed over WiFi connections. Whether you avoid social networking and Wikipedia, or accept them into your life, digital information is here, spreading, revolutionizing the world on a deep and global scale. And tomorrow’s only going to get more… different. 

THE SOLUTION 
Better yet, we’re beginning to adapt to these technological changes. Community citizens are discovering new ways to communicate with each other – ways that we can comprehend in the digital age, ways that have begun to recreate the community spirit that some of our older members feel has been lost. TownSource is part of this adaptation. 

TownSource is the online foundation for geographical communities. Compare it with similar digital information depositories. TownSource’s uncle, Facebook, connects you to friends, family, and celebrities, near and far. And TownSource’s cousin, Wikipedia, lets you commune on an intellectual level. TownSource fills our third and final information network requirement. We the people need to connect with and learn about our surrounding community. 

Where’s the best taco shop in your hood? How much are we paying our mayor? Hey, does anyone feel like telling the mayor we’d like to reduce his salary? Hey, does anyone feel like going for a walk? 

It’s not a political arena. It’s not Craigslist. It’s TownSource.org – where your neighbors are your friends. 

THE LAYOUT
There are two main components of TownSource - the main directory and its individual town subhubs. The directory (main hub) of these subhubs is the trunk of the tree, if you will - a trunk that explains the many ways you can use TownSource to enhance both your life and the spirit of your community. From this trunk, each town’s individual branch (subhub) will grow. 

We need you to help us build TownSource’s pilot subhubs - the “guinea pig” branches of the tree. Now, I’m going to invite you to read our detailed methods for developing and finishing this project.

OUR METHODS 
On the technology side, Townsource is a true “Web of Data” platform that will publish and interlink web data according to the “Linked Data” principles developed by Tim Berners-Lee (inventor of the World Wide Web). The resulting structured data will allow not only humans to understand what's happening in a town, but computers too.

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In order to accomplish this goal, and to provide information in the most accessible, comprehensive way possible, we have developed a specialized metadata engine that automatically tags content using relevance and locality as key criteria. The artificial intelligence backend then uses linguistic analysis and semantic processing tools such as RDF and SPARQL for data interchange across the web.

In the web, “structured” means that digital processes can accurately analyze and present information that is procured from the real, physical world. The current standard for enabling this functionality is employing the Resource Description Framework, an XML-based technology that works on the subject-predicate-object model, where a subject is related to an object through the predicate, and where each subject, predicate, and object are unique resources.

This “structured” foundation means that TownSource can provide information in different languages, use information to automatically create overviews of data (like lists or charts), or answer language-based questions that can hardly be answered automatically by Craigslist or Yelp.

For easy everyday use, Townsource will provide an interface that allows you to edit text, like you can in Wikipedia. But this interface ALSO receives entered data in a specialized way so that information can be further processed on a grand scale, and incorporated into the “global brain” of interconnected knowledge. 

Townsource is doing all of this with the regular townsperson and businessperson in mind, making you the centerpiece in a valid digital representation of your physical world. How is this done fairly and democratically? TownSource is entirely user-controlled and monitored. Like we said, this is your community. 

Building the Directory (Planting the Tree):
The main directory, Townsource.org, will function as an umbrella site for community members to find their individual local town sites. 

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Marketing Analysis: 
There are more than 30,000 cities, towns and villages in the United States alone, most of which are currently underserved by major media. TownSource fills the gap by providing a platform for community resources, news and user interaction on a hyperlocal (town-sized) level. 

Ultimately, TownSource will maintain websites for communities throughout the world. However, for the starting phases of the project growth will be centralized within the United States of America, chosen for its massive population, technological prowess and cultivated consumer model. With approximately 30,443 cities, towns and CDP’s in the U.S. only 276 have a population greater than 100,000. The remaining 30,167 towns comprise our major target markets without neglect to larger strategic locals. The largest state by population has been chosen as the prime launching ground. Launching from California, a state heavy with early technology adopters, creates the ideal conditions for establishing momentum and traffic for TownSource. 

Launching Individual Town Sites (Growing the Branches):
This is the part where we’ll invest your donation - the design and development of TownSource’s localized websites. 

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TownSource’s local sites are essentially the complete “digital manifestation” of each physical town, providing access to everything that is offered in the “real” town at a digital level. TownSource offers a “single click” alternative to using multiple websites for information gathering; e.g. Yelp for business reviews, Citysearch for information and events, Craigslist for classified ads, Groupon for daily deals and local or national media sites for news.

But TownSource needs more than information. We need active TownSource community members to keep the information ever fresh and growing.

Marketing Strategy:
We are using a combination of physical and digital grassroots marketing strategies to demonstrate TownSource’s communal benefits and to gain active TownSource citizens. These strategies include the following: 

1. Community Organization: TownSource is partnering with local media, schools, and community organizations to educate people on healthy community relationships. 

2. Search Engine Optimization (SEO): With more than 20,000 wiki articles per local site, TownSource will exponentially rise to the top of Google and Mobile search. 

3. Social Network Sharing: TownSource articles can be emailed or posted to Facebook or Twitter. 

4. Word of Mouth: No group of people, businesses, or organizations have ever before had the resources to dynamically socialize local knowledge. By intimately linking the concepts, thoughts and ideas of a geographical community, TownSource does just that. 

TownSource’s launch requires three pilot sites: DavisSource.org, BerkeleySource.org and SantaCruzSource.org. The respective physical locales of these three sites demonstrate the standard arena for the TownSource information model. As of the 2010 Census, Davis and Santa Cruz, CA harbor less than 70,000 citizens, providing a midsized town model. Additionally, the population of Berkeley, CA totals approximately 112,000, representing the minority urban locale. Furthermore, these cities offer a high concentration of college influence, catalyzing progressive behavior at the consumer level. 

From these base cities, TownSource will expand to a minimum of 175 additional U.S. locations by the end of its first year. Early expansion is estimated at 15 new sites per month with growth beyond Year One dwarfing previous years substantially. By Year Three, TownSource is projected to grow by 150-160+ local sites per month. 

Paying Future Bills:
With your help, TownSource can stand up and walk on its own two feet. After initial development and launch, the majority of TownSource’s revenues will be derived from micro-advertising. Local businesses and service providers will have the option of advertising within TownSource’s local sites on a “control your listing” basis. Other revenues stem from banner advertisements, front-page placements and e-blasts. Editorial integration such as video interviews with local merchants or in-print features will heighten the consumer experience. All streams of marketing support and enhance each other. 

The hyper local focus of each individual site allows small businesses to pay only the relatively small fees that are associated with small market advertising. Businesses, service providers, organizations, etc. that utilize TownSource’s “connect to listing” feature can rapidly build and interact with a large customer-base at low costs, keeping local customers updated on new sales, deals and other offers.

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OUR PROMISE 
We promise to you that TownSource will be a fully functional digital community, which will launch by December 31, 2012. Thanks to all the development members of TownSource for their inspiration and support. Thank you to all the community members who support TownSource. We welcome those who have yet to join. At least take a peek. Maybe your neighbors are already here.

 

Coming Soon!


For questions, media inquiries or, well, just about anything, email contact@townsource.org.