I am so envious of Adrian Holovaty

Envy, being one of the Seven Deadly Sins, makes for strange behavior patterns within those who exhibit it.  It's generally accepted in society that having such feelings are bad for one's moral structure, mental stability, and health.  That having been said, I still can't help but feel absolutely jealous of Adrian Holovaty.

I've long admired Adrian's impressive body of work as a web developer, intelligently bridging proper functionality with stellar presentation.  And if it lends any more credence than the next guy because I'm also in the same profession and we share a similar background, that's a bonus (see below).  In my mind, he's the best, and our industry's web celeb - the dude who's rightfully getting proper recognition for his groundbreaking work.  

Adrian recently won the prestigious Batten Award for outstanding achievement in online journalism for his masterpiece, ChicagoCrime.org, a groundbreaking Google Maps mash-up showing detailed and multiple profiles of various types of offenses in the Windy City.  The nod also netted him a cool $10,000, which he plans to reinvest in the project to support expansion, newer features, and even greater success.

So I'm envious not because he's gotten fame, fortune and a sweet job for his toiling - I'm more upset at my own community, in that I'll never be able to pull off a localized equivalent of ChicagoCrime.org.  The critical underlying data upon which such a system would be based simply isn't available from my local government in a format easily attainable or programmatically accessible by myself or others.  The Illinois state government is fortunately modernized that it not only has data warehousing savvy to archive such information electronically, but is also of a liberal enough mindset to make this information available for public use.  

Guam's public sector has traditionally been so apathetic and ignorant to keeping electronic copies in modern formats that every decade or so this develops into a big archival issue.  (And if you think I'm going to spend months scanning/OCR'ing Word-based police blotters, you're out of your damn mind.)  Also, and in my mind the larger issue, the arrogance of small-town leadership (Guam's population teeters at around 155,000) is such that information of that type will never be released for endeavors such as Adrian's, even if as a means of serving the public sector.  It's a hording of information that rightfully needs to be divulged to the public in as many forms as possible.  Sounds pretty ridiculous, doesn't it?  Welcome to my world.  

I've long wanted to build a very Web 2.0-style application to my local community's benefit, my own hack of the public Google Maps API, but it can't happen.  I could build a really snazzy UI, having a deep feature set and all sorts of neat things to really improve the lives of citizens living here; but such would be bunk, sans data.  For that reason, aspiring developers, whether those wanting to bid for such a project or do pro bono work, are, for lack of a more politically correct term, screwed.  Style without substance, indeed.

Oh well, I guess I'll live vicariously through Adrian's accomplishments.  At least one of us in the biz pulled it off.

We share a similar background, Adrian and I (his being significantly more high-profile).
  We both can't claim to having formal academic computer science backgrounds, yet we both wound up developing software in the news business (I'm a marketing major from the University of Guam now at an affiliate station; he's from the University of Missouri's School of Journalism and working at The Washington Post).  We've both won awards for our work in developing innovative web apps.  We both work to develop web-based services that serve the communities within our respective hometowns (Adrian's from Chicago, I'm from Guam).

So I guess in retrospect, it might not be jealously after all.  Respect, where I'm from, is a very valuable thing.


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