TownSquare.ca: it’s time to move on…

Will Pate phoned me tonight and asked me to take a look at this CityFilter post about TownSquare.ca, and perhaps to post a response.

I started to write a well-considered review of my feelings, when it suddenly dawned on me that I was falling prey to the TownSquare time-sucking vortex, and I couldn’t waste my time paying attention to something that, in the end, is irrelevant, both to me, and to most of my fellow citizens.

Yes, the TownSquare.ca portal is ugly, expensive, poorly organized, and generally ill-regarded by anyone who lives on the webside.

But it is a product of bureaucrats who were charged with creating the sort of project — a “regional portal” — that hasn’t been warmly received by the web intelligentsia for 5 or 6 years. TownSquare.ca is ugly and poorly organized because nobody with any sense would spend any time on a project which, in the end, doesn’t actually make any sense in the first place.

The Emperor has no clothes. Do you really expect talented tailors, with plenty of other interesting, compelling garments on their sewing tables, to spend any energy either pointing this out, or trying in vain to stitch some up?

The blame for this irrelevance doesn’t lie on any one person, or even on the project team. Bureaucracies, by and large, are incapable of creating beautiful, well-organized, information systems; it’s simply not in their nature. Perhaps the real irony is that the sort of muddled brown fuzzy-headed vibe that TownSquare.ca reflects is a pretty decent reflection of the bureacractic systems that brought it to life.

TownSquare.ca was inevitable, and nothing anyone said or did could have prevented either its conception or birth nor its necessary uselessness. It doesn’t make any sense to try and forensically audit it, either conceptually or monetarily, because there’s not much more to it than that.

The saving grace of the project, as I’ve pointed out before, is that several excellent, worthwhile projects have managed to exist under the same umbrella. For that we can take some solace.

In a few years, when the money runs out, TownSquare.ca will quietly fade away. We probably won’t even notice. It’s a shame that we could have planted some more trees, or built better playgrounds, or even had a big party, with the money that was wasted otherwise. But let’s not user more of our energies pointing out the folly, when they are better spent doing the things that we actually think need to be done to virtually enhance our communities.

To do otherwise is to let the ugliness envelope us further. And that’s not healthy.

Comments

Alan's picture
Alan on October 7, 2003 - 12:35

A $4.5 million dollar grant party with $4.5 million in kind is some party. The stupidity of the piece is more than a reflection of bureaucracy as that would deflect the fact that a few individuals made decisions not to consult, to structure against advice and to provide services unneeded. Bitching will not fix it, you are right, but the monumental scale of the folly is worth not forgetting.

Steven Garrity's picture
Steven Garrity on October 7, 2003 - 15:04

Alan said: “Bitching will not fix it, you are right, but the monumental scale of the folly is worth not forgetting.”

This sums up how I feel too.

Kevin's picture
Kevin on October 8, 2003 - 10:45

Bare knuckled this time huh? Loved reading this!

It strikes me that there ought to be people who disagree with you on this Pete. I think some of them may have benefitted from this investment / project. And I think it’s clear you’ve pretty much opened the channel for their comments.

I hope they take up the challenge and respond with some convincing of their own.

Kevin's picture
Kevin on October 8, 2003 - 10:47

The “monumental scale” pales when compared to some of the real monuments.

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