Open letter to the Mayor of Kortrijk. Forget Qortrijk, think #Qartrijk.

It recently came to me that the city of ‘Kortrijk’ (Belgium) investigates successful projects in cities with QR codes. Additionally, I heard they’re mainly investigating QR codes as a way to facilitate and foster “tourism” and/or “traders”. That’s a start. But that’s not Kortrijk. It’s good to look at best practices in other cities, true. But it’s even better to have the guts to run your own experiments, sparked off by your own imagination and taking advantage of in-city talents.

Hence, I’ve decided to write an open letter to the major so to hopefully influence the policy in this topic. Of course I should have written this letter in Dutch. But unfortunately most people on this blog come from an English-speaking region – despite the fact that my English isn’t very high standard…

So here we go, an open letter to the Mayor of Kortrijk. I know he understands English.

Dear Mayor,

I’m writing an open-ended letter to ask you to turn your Qortrijk into #Qartrijk for a little while.

But first things first. I’m still waiting for an elaborated policy for the coming years in my and your city. I truly do appreciate your efforts to first consult the inhabitants (not population as you call them in your communication…#tip). I do believe this is useful. However I doubt that this is the way that participative democracy ought to function / to be organized. My view is that leaders have to come up with a vision first. A vision which is consequently elaborated into actionable projects. And it’s exactly at this lowest level – actionable projects level – that participative democracy is at stake. I could be completely wrong. So I’m very much open to arguments in favor of an early integration of “the crowd” into policy decision-making.

10 engagements are a good start.

I know you started with 10 engagements for the city and its people. And I believe those are good principles. But those same guidelines are exactly why you should consider the QR-debate in a different perspective. Especially, the below:

  • A city that listens and converses”
    As stated above #KortrijkSpreekt is a great initiative, whether it’s been organized too early or not. However, I believe the city should also listen and converse in the digital world. That’s why in one way or another this letter should be picked up by you, read by you and given feedback to the author.
  • “A city that undertakes and shares”
    The whole QR debate can be seen in a different light, one that sees the project as an enabler to entrepreneurial initiatives and facilitates the art scene while improving the city as such.
  • “A city that moves, dares and changes”
    In relation to the QR-debate this could mean that you’re really eager to run innovative experiments. Why not use this technology so to improve the traffic experience for pedestrian?
  • “A city with a vibe and enthusiasm”
    There are many talented people in the city. Why not duplicate that through a project like #Qartrijk?

I’m about to cut the crap now dear Mayor, here’s what I actually wanted to say…

#Qartrijk as project for the city of Kortrijk a.k.a. Qortrijk

My idea of QaRt isn’t really new. The idea of #Qartrijk however is. To understand the concept of #Qartrijk, you should understand QaRt. And fortunately QaRt is very easy to undertand. It’s QR + ART. QR + ART = QART. There you go. But why?

QR codes have little value and won’t last forever

I’ve always seen QR codes as a temporary thing. It has little value and it won’t last. What’s even more, most people don’t actually know about QR codes. Yes, tech and marketing people know them. And from time to time tag them if they notice them anyway. But it’s not a mainstream thing. It will never be. Without further details here, allow me to just state that QR is only a little aspect in an evolutionary story called the mobile ecosystem.

QR as an artform

Regardless of the fact that most people see QR codes as messed up lines and dots, it inspires people to turn the code as such in a more artful experience. It’s all about design, one vital aspect of Kortrijk’s identity… For this reason (and the one above) I started “pinning” examples of Qart. It might be inspiring for the #Qartrijk experiment. Oh yes, what exactly is #Qartrijk?

#Qartrijk: QR meets Art through-out Kortrijk

#Qartrijk is all about QR in an artful / design way. But not only that. It’s about mobile technology experiments in an artful way that add value to the city. They make the city better. Imagine one experiment being a new lamppost which pedestrian can tag in order to get a faster green light. Of course the object “lamppost” is an art piece in itself. In this manner, one can dream of an organically grown art route of QR-inspired objects in the city.

Let’s run a small experiment!

Kind regards,

@vermeiretim

SoLoMo Democracy. On a local, social and mobile democracy.

Voting. Local elections.

Voting. Local elections.

I’m tripping over political ads these days. Those advertisements basically hold the city as a hostage. I don’t like them. I look forward to the elections though.

After all, election day marks the end of those blatant, flashy campaigns – as there’s only one political party that runs outdoor adverts without elections being near.

But that’s not really what I’m here for today. We obviously have no need for yet another “marketing article”, do we? So why am I writing then today? Why are these elections important? What are they about? And who’s getting my vote?

The City as the experimental playground for local, social and mobile democracy.

First things first. I vote in Kortrijk. A relatively small city in the far west of the country Belgium. This means I have to vote more than average. And it’s not even a right, it’s an obligation. To understand why I need to vote often, one must know the country’s structure. The structure of Belgium is not rarely bookmarked as the most complex and absurd in the world. It would take us to far however to explain that here. For those who’re interested, I previously posted an article that links to a video that explains Belgium in a fun and easy way.

Local Democracy

For now, I believe it is sufficient for you to know that this time we’re voting for the lowest jurisdictional level there is. And that’s exactly why I believe it’s important. The city’s competences are the most tangible of all. It matters topics people feel daily in their day-to-day life. Since it’s about themes they’re actually dealing with, it’s more likely that they develop their own ideas, vision and opinion about it.

Social Democracy

Having said this, one could think that today we are at the frontier to fully unroll the very concept of “democracy”.

Democracy is a form of government in which all eligible citizens have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives. – Wikipedia, the most reliable peer-2-peer reviewed encyclopedia.

The world’s digital extensions allow us to easily implement the idea of ‘in which all eligible citizens have an equal say…’. Just think about a city that’s deeply engaged in social media listening and takes into account the elements it picks up there. To be clear, this social democracy is not just about social media. It means involvement of the citizens by the political representatives of which social media listening is only one of the means to do so. I also recommend having beers in local bars as a way to collaborate on the city plans and policies.

Mobile Democracy

As the world moves forward more and more activities become place-independent. People have higher mobility thanks to mobile devices and ditto technologies. However, there’s ambiguity in here:

“The more mobile our activities become, the less mobility we have.”

Just think about the many minutes (or even hours) you’re stuck in traffic – hardly moving, hardly being mobile.

The city as a small democratic entity must be the playground for the above evolution. It could mean that they take the front-seat with regards to mobile networks, mobile infrastructure, mobile technological innovations and use them to solve all mobility issues like traffic jams.

I do realize my vision upon “mobile” might be a little confusing. It’s not about mobile devices. It’s just another evolutionary story. For more details, please slide through the below slideshare keynote.

How do you feel about the SoLoMo Democracy?

%d bloggers like this: