Ghost of Midnight

… about neighbors, community and Front Porch Forum

Outside.In attracts $1M (almost)

Posted on Thursday, March 1, 2007 by 1 comment

Peter Krasilovsky reports today:

Outside.In, the place-blogging site that collects everything that appears on the Web in a geographical context – blogs, traditional media, individual contributions — has won $900,000 of funding… The money will allow the the three co-founders to expand to a staff of ten, add new resources, including a “meet your neighbors” section, and expand internationally. The site currently serves 63 cities and 3,217 neighborhoods.

I’m intrigued by Outside.In. If I understand the site, it attempts to tame the flood of information available on the web (or at least some of it) by lining it up according to place. I’ve tried to register this blog on their system for Burlington, VT and it says I was successful, but then I can’t find any mention of it… I must be missing something.

But more important than my incompetence as a visitor (I wonder how many non-techies will embrace this site?), I looked at some places where I’ve lived in the past that are also well-established Outside.In locations and I’m left with conflicting reactions… (A) wow, cool vs. (B) too much… make it stop! I absorb a lot of media on any given day… not as much as your average hyper-blogger, but way more than most of the John Does I know. And what I’ve seen on Outside.In is a good start, but the information has not been tamed enough. Makes me feel like someone left the tap running. So I should take another look to understand it better.

The Local Onliner goes on to say:

Union Square’s Fred Wilson [one of the investors], in a press release, presents an interesting hypothesis about his latest investment. “The best Web services are two-way systems. They take content in, add something to it, and then send it back out. YouTube works this way. So do Delicious and Flickr. To date, we haven’t seen such a service for local information online. will hopefully fill that void.”

Front Porch Forum does this at a neighborhood level with neighbors’ words. We’ve taken in thousands of postings, added value, and put them back out to our neighborhood forums.

On his blog, Wilson has more: “Look at the advertisers who populate the local paper, the Yellow Pages, and the local radio stations. They need a place to go online and when they find it, the dollars that will flow are large, very large. Clearly search will get a big piece of that pie (search always does), but the killer local service is one that can serve the residents and the merchants of a city, town, and neighborhood the way the local paper has in the past.”

We plan to test our sponsorship program in Burlington, Vermont this month. Initial reaction from our members (17% of the city subscribed in our first six months) is encouraging. Those I’ve spoken with don’t see the messages from sponsors as advertising, rather just another message about their neighborhood or side of town. Can I be hopeful and skeptical at the same time?

Posted in: Front Porch Forum, Local Online, Local Search, Small Business Advertising

One comment

  1. Thanks for sharing this info. sounds quite interesting, if perhaps a little bit creepy. Somehow, they apparently know that I’m in Seattle — even though I don’t believe I’ve ever registered on that site.

    (Play the theme from The Twilight Zone in the background…)

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