Between the 7’s
Have you ever taken the time to Google South Phoenix? Have you ever considered how people view South Phoenix in the global context or do they even care? What is being said – if anything – on the Web about our community and how does it affect us? Does what others think about our community really matter?
I think it does matter and here are some of the reasons why:
Many people from all over the world use the Google search engine and other Web-based resources to research information. This information is used to make decisions, such as where to eat, what movies to watch, what candidate to vote for, where to invest capital, where to live and what schools to attend. You can access information on just about anything, anyone or anyplace anytime you want.
When I Googled South Phoenix I discovered information that was sparce, outdated and, in most cases, inacurate. For example, here is a little of what was posted on Wikipedia about South Phoenix:
“Quality housing is in short supply. Most older homes were built by the homeowners themselves using adobe and wood, with construction methods that fail to meet current building codes. Low property values often make it unattractive for lenders to finance improvements on these older homes. Community development (and redevelopment) systems are still in their early stages, but since the 1990s important steps have been taken to make quality, low-cost housing available.”
Is this the truth? Not quite the truth at all! If I had no idea about South Phoenix, I wouldn’t think twice about moving my family to an area that sounds so bleak and impoverished. This description was on Wikipedia, which is a supposed valid source of information. This is the new encyclopedia! This engine of information is one of the fastest-growing sources for information in the world. Traditional book form encyclopedias and even the once-famous digital Encarta are being bypassed by this system.
Another example of inaccurate information on the Web is an article about Phoenix posted at www.economist.com on July 28, 2007. The Economist article, titled “Into the ashes: A city that once won prizes is now a crime-ridden mess,” took a negative slant on the growth of Phoenix. They wrote about how we went from a model city, winning All American City four times and the World’s Best Governed City to a city among the highest in the nation for burglary, theft and car crime.
Two weeks later, Mayor Phil Gordon and ASU President Michael Crow sent facts stating why the article misrepresents the city’s situation. The Economist posted the following response on their Web site and later in print:
“Phoenix is safe: 60% of the city’s budget is devoted to public safety. Although it is the fifth-largest city in America, it ranked nearly last—at 98—on the list of America’s 100 most violent cities in 2006, according to the FBI. Violent crimes and property crimes, including vehicle theft, are down sharply since 2002.”
The Economist is a weekly newspaper that believes in anonymity. The publication posted on their Web site that they believe “what is written is more important than who writes it.”
This trend shows that more and more people will start uploading their information and it will get posted all over the world through the Web. In his book, “The World is Flat,” Thomas Friedman said, “That out of all ten forces flattening the world, uploading has the potential to be the most disruptive … I am certain every big institutions or hierarchical structure will feel the effects.”
I agree with him!
The democratization of technology and information has allowed individuals to gather and distribute more information than was ever thought possible. Not only can people find information, they have this newfound power called uploading. Individuals and communities can now send out, up and around their own information, products and ideas for the world to see – and they will often do it for free. People use popular free websites such as YouTube, Facebook, Wikipedia, MySpace and many other sites than I could never name to upload their take on the world.
Wikipedia defines South Phoenix as bordered between 35th Avenue to the west, 48th Street to the east, the union Pacific railroad tracks/Harrison Street to the north and South Mountain Avenue to the south – again inaccurate information. The good news is Wikipedia allows what is posted to be changed. I encourage the residents of South Phoenix to respond as quickly as Gordon and Crow responded. This site needs to be updated or should I say uploaded with new and accurate information.
I know activists, doctors, lawyers, university professors, craftsman, scientists, laborers, bankers, anthropologists, planners and political leaders who have called South Phoenix home their entire life. These are the people in our community who need to be telling the story and history of our community.
We are South Phoenix and we are part of the Web.