One big reason you aren’t seeing quite as many posts from Better Burque these days is that we’ve fully entered the inevitable, yet perhaps worthwhile, time sink of 311/SeeClickFix. It’s like “Fortnite” or “Call of Duty” for nerds who prefer investing hours into reports on potholes, graffiti, and weeds over time spent virtually hacking and being hacked to pieces.
I can’t say that one nerd preference is more meaningful or worthwhile, although the original idea, really/honest, was that by more fully investigating 311/SeeClickFix we could possibly help transform it into an more important arena for government transparency while also successfully pushing for improved infrastructure for those walking and cycling our roadways and trails.
I also can’t say that the countless hours spent so far at 311/SeeClickFix has achieved these goals any more than if we’d instead just played “Call of Duty,” but BB can report its time investment has raised our awareness of what appears to be a set of tiny, if oblique, steps toward making the service more “human” in its communication between those outside government reporting stuff and those inside government reacting to those reports.
We’ll spare you the micro-time sink details leading to this observation, and instead simply relate some of the recent communications from those inside City of Albuquerque to 311/SCF reports. If you haven’t previously leapt into this rabbit hole and haven’t read our earlier reports about this, here is a typical, if lengthier than most, excerpt/exchange from the website:
In particular, note the poesy, mostly all caps, between the two sets of dashes in the “closed” responses. Let’s isolate those prose poems and see what we come up with for this excerpt (apologies for all caps “screaming”):
NEGATIVE RESULTS FOR POTHOLE IN THE STREET PER JIMMY
PER POTHOLE TRUCK THEY DID NOT SEE A POTHOLE AT THE ADDRESS GIVEN 8814 CENTRAL AVE SE. PLEASE GIVE MORE DETAILS TO WHERE THE POTHOLE IS
NM Gas / CCE work, item is under warranty, Permit 2017012048EXC Contacted NM Gas/CCE to fix per M.Sandoval -Dar
Hmm…that’s pretty good. Like the best prose poems, the author(s) here communicate in a way that makes readers search for meaning and context, while also inventing new rhythmic cadences that both incorporate established forms (e.g., haiku, sonnet) and surpass them in developing a new poetic language.
Not to mention that the line “NEGATIVE RESULTS FOR POTHOLE IN THE STREET PER JIMMY” would fit perfectly as the title of a 60s/70s Rolling Stone record or line in a William Burroughs novel.
Our literary senses enlivened by this short set of verse, let’s take a somewhat longer look at a few more recent 311/SCF reports.
Note (Nerd hint cheat code): When searching for your own prose poems via 311/SCF make your search parameters look like this:
You want to search only for those reports that are “closed,” and recent, as only closed reports have the responses and the poetic juiciness of those responses has only started happening in earnest “recently” over the past few weeks.
Observant students of poetry will, of course, note the homage to T.S. Eliot’s “The Waste Land” with the triplicate repetition of “The case…” as conclusion to the work, just as
“Shantih shantih shantih”
is repeated in Eliot’s masterpiece.
Of course the role of poetic synthesizer for these disparate postings “done” by the original authors without regard to poetic form, leaves us somewhat in the position employed by first Tzara and then Burroughs in “cutup” art and literature. We at Better Burque must admit that we are no Tzara or Burroughs, and apologize for the inarticulate nature of our juxtaposing these lines.
More work must be done to improve our ability in taking what is hoped will be more and more comment from those within the government at 311/SeeClickFix. We sincerely hope we have more material from which to do this work. While it might seem we are making fun of those authoring these missives, we are actually wholly in favor of this evolved level of government transparency and the possibilities moving forward, both in terms of public service and literature.