by Matthew Zuras
Claudio Agrelli must think that the average Neapolitan is a total scumbag. Why else would he found Partenope City, an online community exclusive to the people of Naples who pledge to live by an altruistic ethical code? The 35-year-old Naples native spoke recently with the BBC, saying that he believes people have forgotten common courtesies like dumping litter in garbage cans instead of on the sidewalk, or refraining from ripping off their customers. Agrelli told the BBC, “I wanted to use technology to re-found the old city, but people it with real people, and base my city on ethical values where people respect the rules.”
Partenope City — christened after the original Greek name of Naples — is a cross between Google Maps, a message board, community action portal, and IRL role-playing game. Its roughly 2,000 current members pledge to live by an ethical code that benefits the larger community, and use the site’s message board to discuss local issues and “to propose projects, laws and initiatives.” (An English translation of the code appears at the bottom of the page.) A customized Google map allows users to mark locations around Naples and share news about them, while a virtual daily newspaper aggregates peoples’ views.
Agrelli is taking steps to create Partenope City membership cards, which he says will reap real rewards in the analog world. “It’s a bit different from a loyalty card, as it’s not based on economic advantages, but on moral and ethical codes,” he tells the BBC. But he goes on to say that subscribing business owners could “offer a [Partenope City] citizen a cup of coffee or a discount if they buy in their shop.” So we’re not entirely sure if Agrelli has really thought out his ethical system, especially if people are coerced into the program with the promise of cheaper or free goods. Wouldn’t you pledge to never step foot outside of a crosswalk if you knew it meant free espresso?