Ghost of Midnight

… about neighbors, community and Front Porch Forum

Local Online Done Right: Delivering the goods while connecting with neighbors

Posted on Thursday, September 20, 2007 by No comments yet

Matthew Berk writes at LocalPoint today about a kind of neighborhood email list that serves him well…

I have been ardent subscribers to the “Queen Anne Moms” mailing list ( It’s a fantastic miscellany of questions and perspectives on everything local–including but not exclusive of parenting issues–everything from when to discontinue the binky, to which contractors do great work, to updates on area crime, all right in our in boxes every day.

He then steps through an example of using the list to find contractors, get news, seek advice, etc…

Now, this long-winded anecdote brings me to one of the often under emphasized elements of a great local experience online: connecting people who live in the same community and who share many of the same priorities, values, and needs.

Put another way, we could have addressed these same needs through completely different online channels, ranging from the Internet to local TV and radio… But in this case, by leveraging the list and our community, we not only solved for our immediate needs, but we connected with people in our neighborhood.

The valuable work of connecting neighbors is not merely the stuff of “social networking”, but is really about folding local data, information and content back on real people, living in the real world.

These connections, which can be fostered not only by email lists, are the basis for what Greg Sterling has recently argued (see “What People Don’t Get About Local“) is really the entire value proposition of the local space: the reach of the online into the fabric of the real, where we spend the great bulk of our time, money, and sentiment.

To succeed, every locally-oriented product needs to learn how to reach out in these ways and to forge connections online that have lasting effects in our offline lives. Baking these qualities into a product is a tough challenge, but then, so is being a great neighbor…

Well said.  This is what Front Porch Forum is doing in spades in our pilot city.

Posted in: Community Building, Front Porch Forum, Local Online, Neighborhood, Social Networking

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