Ghost of Midnight

… about neighbors, community and Front Porch Forum

Hyperlocal yada yada… it’s about connecting

Posted on Tuesday, July 31, 2007 by No comments yet

Interesting discussion led by Jeff Jarvis about local news online this week… does hyper local matter to 18-35 year olds or not? And, if not, then let’s just declare it dead and move on. Jeff goes the other way and says that hyperlocal is just very hard to pull off and that everyone is interested in it, regardless of age. jumps in today and really nails it…

One camp agrees hyperlocal is important. The other thinks local is dead and it’s all about hyper-me. Me, me, me.

Here’s the thing. For most people, there is no difference between hyperlocal and hyper-me, because most real people live very local lives.

I do not. Lately I’m acutely aware of how little I actually live where I live. I have a well-stamped passport, gold status on Skymiles, friends scattered around the planet. I dare not assume that other people are having the same 21st century virtual experience that I’m having with my wifi connections and my global-roaming text messages.

I get the point about hyper-me, I really do, but I also know that most people live locally. And for them, hyper-me and hyperlocal largely overlap.

Human beings need connections. We’re hardwired that way. But modern life gets in the way. TV and the automobile sell us connections but deliver isolation. Stand at a street corner and count the cars with drivers talking on their cellphones. They’re fighting back.

I’m looking at some proprietary research from one city where fully 38 percent of women who were interviewed reported that connecting was their biggest personal challenge.

Virtual connections through a social networking platform are better than no connections at all, but the real opportunity, I think, is in virtual connections that are combined with real connections. Physical-world connections. Hyperlocal space.

That’s what Front Porch Forum is all about. And I don’t doubt the research about women feeling challenged by connecting with other people in this day and age. Check out the unsolicited remarks from FPF members… it all boils down to developing lasting connections with real people… in FPF’s case, with nearby neighbors.

And, good for him for recognizing that he’s not Joe Average.  I know of several (if not most) “local” efforts that are  designed by national-focused people with little experience of living in community with neighbors, serving on school committees, running a fundraiser for the volunteer fire dept., etc.  And they feel that way.
Many of these “local” online services are built for a national collection of locals, thus losing a degree of authenticity.  Just like eating at McDonalds among strangers is a fundamentally different experience than bellying up to the counter of a local diner and talking about the Little League playoffs.

Posted in: Citizen Journalism, Community Building, Front Porch Forum, Local Online, Social Media

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