In a funny (or not so funny, depending on the editor) coincidence, the NY Times and NY Post both have stories about 311, the city's phone line resource for non-emergency matters. The Times article looks at the next stage of 311's evolution - providing information about concerts, museums, restaurants, and theaters. The City's Information Technology and Telecommunications team is getting that functionality ready for the Republican National Convention, working with the non-profit NYC tourist association, NYC & Company (they help organize Restaurant Week). There is debate over a city-funded service dispersing information about where to eat, but NYC & Co. head Cristyne L. Nicholas (former Giuliani administration) tells the Times that businesses that have joined NYC & Company (whose dues range from $500-1500) should be rewarded a good civic boosters." Net net, the Times' article touches upon how 311 is becoming this wide-reaching city quality of life service that helps NYers and the city government

Civic boosting is great, but we hope people calling 311 for restaurant information also get themselves a local NY magazine or guidebook, too. Actually, 311 would be a great application for wireless devices, but that's for the nerds to figure out. One new feature of 311 that Gothamist likes that they let you know about street closings and rainouts of performances. We'd like there to be a feature for "What streets to avoid" - if this is really to be useful during the convention.

The Post's 311 story is about people using 311 to settle scores. Some Queens residents are calling 311 and making city cuilding inspectors visit houses, "where, in many cases, they find no evidence of any violations." New Yorkers are so crafty in their vendettas! One City Council member is proposing a bill that would make abusing 311 a crime, with fines from $1,000 to $5,000 and jail terms of up to six months. And then there's the issue of 311 anonymity - currently 311 callers don't have to give their name, but perhaps 311 will have to determine which kind of complaints require a name and other information. Gothamist, for our part, has complained ('cause we do it so well) to 311 about double parking, messed up traffic lights, and car alarms, and we don't mind giving our name ("Art Vandelay") and address (any fake Law & Order location, like 600 West 97th Street, which would put you in the river).

Joey from tale of two cities called 311 - but was told to call 911! And Gothamist on 311, as well as its birthday and early days.