Building a 'digital city' | March 30, 2012 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

Cover Story - March 30, 2012

Building a 'digital city'

Palo Alto looks to hackers and social networks to transform City Hall

by Gennady Sheyner

"The last thing you need is a bureaucracy," Steven Levy wrote in his landmark 1985 book, "Hackers."

This story contains 3551 words.

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Staff Writer Gennady Sheyner can be emailed at


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Posted by Mark Weiss
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 30, 2012 at 5:18 pm

At least it doesn't say that he demands to be called "DOCTOR Reichental" which the City's press release on his hiring seemed to imply, which would make it seem even more like something out of a Stanley Kubrik movie.

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Posted by Mark Weiss
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 30, 2012 at 5:20 pm

Here is a link to a movie from Kubrick that may or may not provide context to the Weekly's report:
Web Link

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Posted by RadioGuy
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 30, 2012 at 6:07 pm

That's a nice picture of Mr. Reichental. I didn't know that the City ran a living computer history museum. Isn't that a Spectracom 8182 WWVB radio controlled clock with the glowing red numbers along the left side the picture? I hope somebody told him that it will no longer work after NIST changes to phase modulation this summer (see: Web Link). Moving to the cloud? Heck, he looks like he'd be happy moving to the 21st century!

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Posted by (V)eritas
a resident of University South
on Mar 30, 2012 at 6:22 pm

"Reichental is Palo Alto's first-ever chief information officer."
For what it's worth, and to be fair, Retired Palo Alto CIO, Glenn Loo, is Palo Alto's first ever Chief Information Officer. Loo served for 9 years and, as a recent highlight, made the City of Palo Alto 1 of the 4 municipalities recognized in CIO magazine's 2010 top 100. Cheers!

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Posted by skeptic
a resident of another community
on Mar 30, 2012 at 10:31 pm

Is this guy serious! talk about Delusions Of Grandeur
But I think the nazi picture is a bit harsh!

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Posted by dave
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Mar 31, 2012 at 12:13 am

Can we get better connectivity/internet service options, e.g. fiber optic, etc. other than AT&T or Comcast before proclaiming that we are building a digital city?

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Posted by bt
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Mar 31, 2012 at 8:20 am

the city was headed in the wrong direction prior to reichentals arrival. now that he is there, hopefully they'll stop selling out to corporate interests (AT&T towers)

i hope he can bring the city free digital wireless internet as his priority once he cleans the mess loo made

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Posted by Lost-In-LA-LA-Land
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 1, 2012 at 8:04 am

This is the fundamentally wrong approach to delivering anything meaningful. Cities are not Silicon Valley startups--they have continuity that lasts, essentially, forever. Startups last as long as the cash, or interests of the owners, lasts. And then poof! .. gone in the flash of an eye.

The reasons that governments have bureaucracies is to ensure this continuity. Students in Universities have no concept of the real world--having come to believe that they have the charter to "change it"--when in fact, they have no such charter.

This guy will be gone in a couple of years--a lot of flash will be all that he leaves in his wake. Social networks and "hackers" are the last thing that a City needs as the basis for its information infrastructure elements.

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Posted by zimbu
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 4, 2012 at 10:32 pm

Gennady, how much did Dr. Reichental pay you for this puff piece? I don’t know if he demands to be called DR. Reichental, but his emails have this at the bottom:
Jonathan Reichental, Ph.D. :: Chief Information Officer :: City of Palo Alto

And Gennady, what do you know about Steve Jobs other than what you read in his biography? Comparing Jobs and Reichental in any way is a sacrilege.

BTW, the beta version of the web site is even worse than the current site. “… the city's rich ecosystem of software engineers, entrepreneurs and designers” doesn’t seem to know much about building web sites.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.