In theory, it's a neat idea. You're walking down the street and observe a sewage leak or some illegally dumped trash. You snap a quick picture with your smart phone and that picture along with your location are automatically forwarded to an online city map. Ideally, someone from the city government acknowledges this, and, ideally, this someone does something to remedy the problem.
This is essentially the idea behind City Sourced, an LA-based company that Urbanite highlighted earlier this year as a pioneer in "crowdsourcing for a cause." The goal is for ordinary citizens to exercise some semblance of civic mindedness, and for city officials to be more aware of the little issues in their respective districts.
"The best aspect?" says Urbanite, "Doing your part takes no more than sixty seconds."
Like I said before, in theory this sounds great. However, I can't help but think how this basically amounts to the activism of the mildly indolent.
In a better world (or at least a less apathetic one), we would all possess the time, resources, and motivation to be like these two guys, who took it upon themselves to build "The Astoria Scum River Bridge." Constructed over a "gross and dangerous" cesspool-esque puddle that developed under a New York Amtrak overpass due to a perpetually leaking pipe, the bridge prevented pedestrians from slipping in the winter when the puddle iced over, and helped people avoid smelly gunk on their way to and from the subway everyday. The team w as acknowledged by a local councilmember for their good deed, Amtrak fixed the leaky pipe, and the Scum River was no more.