The Placeology Manifesto

How can sharing pictures change the world?

In almost every American city and town there's a significant disconnect between the rules that govern development and the kinds of places people love.

The rules say that building any new places like this is ILLEGAL:

Good1 Good2 Good3 Good4 Good5

Instead, the rules REQUIRE new development to look like this:

Bad1 Bad2 Bad3 Bad4 Bad5

Most people aren't very aware of the development regulations in their community, or the effects of those regulations. For that matter, most people don't spend a lot of time contemplating what kinds of places they like, and if you asked them they would have a hard time describing what makes a great place. So when cities make new development rules or revise their old ones they typically don't get a lot of public interest or critical feedback, and the pattern of mediocre outcomes continues. Without awareness there is little public will for change.

Placeology is an attempt to do something about this. There are three ways we think we can help:

  1. Data: by collecting many photos and lots of people's reactions to those photos, we can aggregate some really useful data to quantify what kinds of places people like the most. Cities can use this data to make their rules better fit public opinion, and developers can use this data to find what kinds of places they should be building.
  2. Awareness: using the site to share, rate, and discuss places makes people more conscious of place. The more we can make it interesting and fun for people to use the site the more we can help people to notice what they like and don't like about their community, and the more aware people are the more likely they are to participate in the public process.
  3. Inspiration: for the designers and developers who actually make places, Placeology can be a creative toolbox, a place to find new ideas and new techniques. The more these professionals can be exposed to the best places from around the world, the better they will be at creating great places in their own communities.

I hope you’ll join us in building this community-powered resource together. After all, the most important element in any place, including this one, is the people.


Andrew Burleson
Founder and Developer