It looks like Planetizen, the urban news aggregator that many a planner skims for headlines in the morning, has some fresh competition.
Jeff Wood, Reconnecting America’s new media director and chief cartographer, will run the site along with John L. Hughes, the non-profit’s communications manager.
Wood — whom you might know as the man behind The Overhead Wire, a (now mostly dormant) transportation and development blog — said that the idea for The Direct Transfer has origins dating to 6.5 years ago, when he used to email relevant articles to an old boss. The sheer volume of his missives soon got cumbersome, however, so Wood started consolidating them into one email. This email made its way to board members and others with increasing regularity, until it finally grew into a popular e-newsletter called The Other Side of the Tracks.
But as with any email list, it’s been hard for Wood to attract new readers without spamming them. So he decided to build a tool available on the Web that interested readers can access at any time.
The site breaks its feed down into five categories: Transport, Urbanism and Design, Urban Issues, Environment and Ecology, and “Other Views.” This last category includes links to posts by the likes of the Heritage Foundation and Joel Kotkin, as well as news stories about political opposition to transit projects.
When asked what distinguishes his site from Planetizen, Wood had a simple answer: “There’s more of it.” The older site tends to update about 10 times a day, while Wood said that he will shoot to update The Direct Transfer between 30 and 40, and “maybe even 50,” times a day. Indeed, as of this writing (the site’s first day of operation), there are eight entries in each of the different categories on the homepage.
Wood also said that while he doesn’t think any original posts will run on The Direct Transfer in the foreseeable future, he hopes to include videos and links to a significant number of research papers.
The Other Side of the Tracks will continue as an e-newsletter. As Wood tweeted, “I asked readers if they would be ok with it going away and they said no. So we set up an HTML export so we could do both.”