City Desk

Chatter: Swell Maps

basements

What you said about what we said last week

A map accompanying last week’s cover may have been the most controversial sidebar we’ve run in some time. While readers were almost unanimously rah-rah about Arts Editor Christina Cauterucci’s long look at the history and resurrection of Back Alley Theater, they were split on contributor Maxwell Tani’s accompanying maps tracing the spread of D.C. DIY venues over the last decade. The online version of the feature included the approximate locations of dozens of current venues, as well as others stretching back to 2004, which led Steve to snark, “The chart over time is basically a chart of hipster development.”

Others were less amused. “A lot of venues in D.C. don’t necessarily want their address/location plastered all over the Internet,” wrote Ben. “That’s how cool shit like this dies.” And Jess: “In its struggle to appear relevant and hip by publishing this lackluster article, you’ve done yourself a great disservice to the communities that supports these venues and musicians in our city by not seeking permission to publish their venue locations, especially when many of them are living residences. Would it have been so difficult to reach out to these venues for permission before including them first? Disappointing at best, sloppy, inconsiderate journalism at worst.”

Reader andy deflated the pushback. After noting that many D.C. DIY spaces are essentially public because of the surfeit of information they post on the Web, he wrote, “it’s always been an elitist thing to ‘hide’ addresses anyway. that’s not really fair to people who want to go to shows, but don’t know anyone there or don’t know where to go, but still wanna see music.” Maeve also questioned the outrage: “As someone who works in journalism professionally, I’m questioning the claims of intrusion and ‘sloppy journalism’ on here —all this mapping thing is doing is compiling information that’s already public. Press coverage around these places shouldn’t just have to exist on the spaces’ own terms. Why is the huge InFest map posted outside of Nellie’s kosher, but this tiny widget isn’t? Why is the weekly events coverage in [Brightest Young Things] and DC Music Download cool, which include links to events and indexed addresses, but this is a revelation? If you’re a house/event space inviting thousands of people to public events on Facebook, putting posters all over DC coffee shops and bars and inviting the public into your nonprivate events, you absolutely make yourself fair game for coverage like this, even if it’s a living residence....Spaces can’t advertise events under no pretense of secrecy and then decry pieces like this—that’s not how operating as a public space works.”

In the comments, Cauterucci explained, “We went back and forth on our editorial team for a long time about the map—what information we should include and why, and how. The actual addresses/exact locations of the houses aren’t listed (we restricted the zoom function specifically for that purpose), which we thought would safeguard venues from any harmful backlash while providing a really interesting and relevant visual story.” After hearing from some currently active venues, we removed some of the names from the online widget, but, as Cauterucci wrote, “we’re going to leave the dots up, though, because we think the map tells an important story and it’s hard to do that truthfully without all the information.”

Department of Corrections. Due to a reporting error, last week’s Housing Complex column, about a dispute in Lanier Heights over pop-up additions to rowhouses, gave an incorrect number of signees of a petition circulated by a pseudonymous pro-pop-up activist called Spartacus. Nineteen people signed it, not 11.

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