ThoughtStorms Wiki

Online services designed for spatially restricted groups (compare with CityInformationSystem)

There used to be half a dozen links here to online services focused on neighbourhoods and strict localization.

They've all gone.

Which is interesting.

I'm sure there are other new ones. But is it worth collecting links to them.

Does the local simply not have the persistence and utility of geographically global online social networks?

It suggests that global networks can do everything that specialized local ones can. There's no need for a special service.

Quora Answer : Would a social network centered locally be successful? Why or why not?

Jun 28, 2011

I'm going to take the contrarian side here.

I'll bet local social networking is over-rated and will basically "flop" compared to more general social networking utilities like Facebook, Twitter and Linked in.

The problem is that while I'd love to have lots of up-to-date detailed information about by near locality and my neighbours :

a) I don't necessarily want my neighbours to have that much up-to-date and detailed information about me.


b) the kind of information I might want appeals to too narrow an audience to make it worthwhile anyone collecting and managing it.

Have you ever read a local newspaper? They're some of the most boring reads on earth, filled with adverts for real estate and wedding photography, trivia about school fetes and petty crimes and desperate attempts to find something interesting going on in the locality. Local news has to be bland enough not to alienate any of the inevitably small readership, so no controversial op-eds, no difficult thinking, no aspirations beyond the mundane.

But if I'm looking to buy real-estate, I'm better off with a dedicated real-estate site. Similarly if I want crime statistics, there are better specialist systems. If I want to browse or place a classified, I prefer a catchment area at least as big as a city to find buyers and sellers (ie. Craiglist scale). Out of the city, or to get a better price, I may prefer the national or international scale of eBay.

My friends and followers on Facebook and Quora and Twitter are connected to me by shared interest or shared experience of institutions. Some of those institutions may be local but once I'm an adult out of school, then college friends and work colleagues (and ex-work colleagues) are already distributed way beyond my post-code. And while I'm happy to loudly spout opinions on Quora dressed in a carnival suit I walk around my neighbourhood dressed soberly and trying not to attract too much attention.

Some things may work at a very local scale. I think FreeCycle does. Because it's such a low barrier to entry to participate in, its value is real and immediate. And often it's exactly someone down your road who you want to come and take your old wardrobe because that's the fastest way to get rid of it.

Tool-sharing may be another win.

And what I'd love to have is up-to-date information about when the chemist is open this morning and whether they have certain medicines in stock. And live information about how the buses are running. But I don't believe that there's a business model to make that work. The web is full of terrible sites listing "shops in your area" with incomplete and untimely information. If there's an opportunity, it's for something like http://pachube.com/ which seeds local businesses and services with automated sensors rather than relying on "user generated content".

Update : Another way of looking at this : "locality" is really just a search-filter. It's a feature, not a product in its own right.

Update 2 : Everyblock is yet another proof point that no one understands hyperlocal, if it means anything at all

See also :