Technology permits blink-of-an-eye contact and an all-day-wired-up-and-followed feeling: Twitter, Facebook and IM pretty well track your every, well, everything.
Then there’s Front Porch Forum, a service that is using technology — or some of it, anyway — to link neighbours and services in Chittenden County, Vermont. The main differences: You have to say who you are and where you live when you e-mail, and you have to wait for once-a-day delivery of the raft of messages coming from all over the neighbourhood. So, no aliases, no cloaking, no down and dirty discussions — just something civil, slower moving, respectful.
The challenge for the service, like all such services, is to make money. At the moment there are government sponsors and advertisers, but this is one service you can foresee moving from the free-to-fee territory. After all, it’s a legitimately great local utility.