Knowledge@Wharton has an interview with Joe Kraus, director of product management at Google, in which he highlights the importance of social interaction on the Web:
“So, the killer apps that have really worked on the web have always been about connecting people to one another. So, whether it is instant messaging and e-mail as communications to connect people to one another, whether it’s photo-sharing as a way to connect people to one another through photos, or blogging as a way to connect people to one another through the words, people have always been social and the killer apps that have really succeeded on the web have always been social.”
This got me thinking about a couple recent conversations with folks asking about huge powerhouse online companies that have outposts in Burlington, VT, where we operate Front Porch Forum‘s pilot. The gist was… “Wouldn’t people be better off selling their car on Craigslist Burlington, seeking plumber recommendations on Angie’s List Burlington, giving away their old couch on FreeCycle Burlington and just using Front Porch Forum to organize block parties and find lost cats?”
Good question and I encourage people to use multiple services when they have the need. But like Krause says above, it’s all about connection. While websites offering classified ads, reviews, give-away matching, etc. by location COULD help people connect in some meaningful way, I don’t think they do. My sense is that they help facilitate the immediate and direct need (selling a car, finding a plumber), but they don’t touch the other… they don’t capitalize on the opportunity to add a brick to the house of local community with each interaction.
That’s what Front Porch Forum is all about. We aim to take every posting by clearly identified nearby neighbors and cobble them all together to build real community among neighbors and townsfolk. Why give away your moving boxes to anonymous distant strangers when you can offer them to your nearby neighbors and actually get to meet some people who live near you? That’s tapping the real potential of the internet… as Google’s Joe Krause says… it’s all about connecting people.
Or, as Wolfgang reported a month ago…
Just wanted to let you know that we sold our Minivan today to a neighbor through Front Porch Forum. We had more people expressing interest and more people showing up to look at the van who found out through the Forum than the interest generated by Burlington Free Press, Cars.com and Craigslist combined. Thanks!
So, again, I encourage folks in our service area to post their messages on any site they like… AND to post it on Front Porch Forum. The results typically speak for themselves.