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Monthly Archives: December 2010


Hiding in Plain Sight

Vermont Public Radio commentator Andrea Learned chimed in today with a piece called “Sustainable Waldo.”

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how to nudge more people toward sustainable living practices.  While switching out light bulbs and recycling as much as possible are both easy ways to start that process, what comes next? … we may now need to focus on places where sustainability is hidden in plain sight…  Remember the “Where’s Waldo” books?  Darned if he wasn’t right in front of your nose and you didn’t see him.  So where are some sustainability Waldos?

One great example might lie in urban density and community transportation planning issues… Gardening is another activity where sustainability may be hiding in plain sight.

And what about neighborhood involvement, as supported by services like Vermont’s own Front Porch Forum, which host networks of online neighbor-to-neighbor help and information. Communities built on stronger interpersonal relationships and citizen interconnections help build more long-term, sustainable views on big, challenging issues.  Whether or not citizens see this as sustainability doesn’t really matter.  They are responding to powerful, sustainability-promoting, shared values.

She’s got a point!  Sometimes we talk about FPF’s larger community benefits… but most of the time when chatting with folks, we focus on the direct and obvious benefits… use FPF to find an affordable plumber or ride to Boston, to report a car break-in to neighbors, to sell a bike or give away a stroller.



Year-end look at hyperlocal big boys

Peter Krasilovsky offers a year-end look ahead at the WalMart approach to hyperlocal news

… there is a rap out there that hyperlocal doesn’t scale and these [Patch and Fwix] are toys.  Is it still the case?

Patch now has a local presence in 600 communities, with editorial and sales “pods” of 12 each Some of being run by longtime newspaper industry leaders. Last Sunday, LA Times media columnist James Rainey wrote that Patch is revitalizing local journalism and asserted that may have become THE place for journalists to go (aside from wages of $35k-$50k, or half the salary that big city journalists might have gotten from the big metro, if they were hiring).

Patch President Warren Webster… didn’t dispute my characterization of Patch as an experiment that wants to quickly get a national footprint to attract national, regional and local advertisers; create a business directory that goes beyond the Yellow Pages; and scale editorial and sales resources.

On a macro-level, local ad revenues typically split 50/50 between targeted national and local. For Webster (and cohorts), the bet is that Patch is poised to do both. They’ve publicly said they were spending $50 million to ramp it up in 2010…

Peter offers this list of horses in the race, grouped in an interesting way…

National/regional “hyperlocal” news sites

Local editorial and sales
Patch
Main Street Connect
Hello Metro
TBD.org

Geographic aggregation for media partners
Topix
Outside.in
Fwix
Datasphere
Everyblock

Local event and news sites
AmericanTowns.com
Center’d
DiscoverOurTown

Aggregators also supported by unique user-generated content and pro/amateur content farms
Examiner.com
Associated Content
Demand Media
Helium
Merchant Circle




Newspaper ad spending tumbling… Online ad revenue ascending

Greg Sterling’s post today provided food for thought about online advertising…

U.S. newspapers are indeed in deep financial straights.  Here’s a chart from Newspaper Association of America data…

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U.S. newspaper revenue from classified, local and national ads are all contracting rapidly, while their income from online ad sales is still tiny in comparison.  Total ad sales in 2006 was about $49 billion and in 2009… $27 billion.  Wow.  U.S. newspaper online ad sales has held at about $3 billion for the past four years.

However, stepping away from newspapers for a moment, online advertising overall is growing impressively.  Charts from eMarketer project U.S. digital ad spending raising steadily at 10-14% from 2009 to 2014.  Newspapers’ slice of that $25 billion pie is relatively narrow… only about $3 billion.

Screen shot 2010-12-20 at 9.54.21 PM

Will online ad spending continue to climb at this rate?  Will it come at the further expense of newspaper ad spending?  Does this Harris poll offer a clue?

Screen shot 2010-12-20 at 10.01.08 PM

People tell us they read the ads on Front Porch Forum… and our sponsors keep buying the space.  Hard to know where this is all headed… but I do know that we get lots of businesses knocking on our door.



Grand Isle Co. + FPF = iPod?

Screen shot 2010-12-19 at 9.22.22 PMDo you know someone who lives in Grand Isle County, #VT… or spends significant time on the Islands?  If yes, then please share this…

Join your Grand Isle County neighbors at FrontPorchForum.com and win an iPod!

Sign up today for your town’s e-newsletter: Front Porch Forum. If you live in The Islands you’ll be entered to win an iPod shuffle!

Front Porch Forum is building community in the Islands by helping neighbors connect. Need a babysitter, electrician, or snow plow guy? Just type a quick message and it goes out to your neighbors. Want people to attend an event, or know about a break-in? FPF is a great way to get the word out.

It’s easy to sign up… just go to FrontPorchForum.com and fill out a quick form. Then start reading and posting!

Do it soon! Only new sign-ups received by December 31, 2010 will be eligible to win the iPod shuffle.  Sign up at: FrontPorchForum.com

Sample messages:

  • Group rate for fuel oil
  • Seeking reliable plumber
  • Break-in report
  • Free bookcase and table
  • Childcare available
  • Keys found
  • Community supper in the works
  • School board member responds
  • Casseroles for sick neighbor

Front Porch Forum is available across 50 Vermont towns, now including all of Grand Isle County. Thanks to the e-Vermont initiative for sponsoring FPF in The Islands.