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A dream app for a social reporter

Michael Barnes
mbarnes@statesman.com

I dreamed up an app. No really. The deep-slumber dream combined elements of South by Southwest, the Austin City Limits Music Festival and Formula One with our city’s lingering civic rift over short-term rentals.

In a version of Austin straight out of the movie “Inception,” I sailed from social event to social event downtown. Yet I needed to write. And to rest.

That’s when my new smart-phone and tablet app appeared. It allowed me to secure an office or a place to put up my feet anywhere downtown. Any time.

The solution was ultra-short-term rentals. By the hour. Office towers, usually empty at night, lit up — or darkened — with other social migrants like myself seeking refuge.

I can pinpoint sources for the dream. Once during the Formula One weekend, my eyelids drooped and my legs felt leaden. I had missed my essential late afternoon nap.

I tweeted the feeling. Several downtowners kindly offered their digs. Instead, I rested under an old tree above the lake. Bliss.

The other dream source was the high-tech media center at the Circuit of the Americas. This vast room easily houses 1,000 journalists, all facing a wall of images out of a NASA control room.

It will be used more than once a year — in fact, a charity event was scheduled for the hall and its roomy lobby this week. But what if it were split into 1,000 tiny mobile offices around the city for roaming, hunter-gatherer reporters like myself?

Too insider? You’re right.

Such an absurd concept might take much more urban density that most Austinites are willing to imagine.

Now, Vancouver, B.C., houses no less than 25 times our downtown population in its urban core. The clean streets and smooth sidewalks still flow with supreme ease. Because people live, work, shop and play in the same place.

Now that’s a dream.