Monthly Archives: March 2011

FPF now in Johnson, Hubbardton, Walden, Worcester #VT

Front Porch Forum continues to expand its community-communication service in Vermont.  Today, Johnson FPF launched and already 50 local households are on board.  Other recent additions include Hubbardton, Walden, and Worcester.

See the full list of Vermont towns where FPF operates here.

FPF helps nearby neighbors connect and build community by hosting regional networks of online neighborhood forums.  More than 25,000 Vermont households participate, including greater than 40% of many towns and neighborhoods.

Columbia Journalism Review covers 2 #VT websites

VTDigger.org and Front Porch Forum were written up by the Columbia Journalism Review recently.  Good stuff.  Congratulations to VTDigger.  The piece starts…

As the name suggests, VTDigger aims to provide deep coverage of local issues in the Green Mountain State. “I wanted to follow stories in-depth,” explains Anne Galloway, the publication’s editor-in-chief. “Not all of our stories are investigative; but we want them all to go deep.”…

And about FPF

Vermont-based social networking site Front Porch Forum has earned an intense regional following, partly thanks to its success as a venue for hyperlocal citizen journalism…

I believe FPF and VTDigger will be on a panel together May 12, 2011 at the annual VBSR spring conference.  Come join the discussion with us.

EveryBlock Going Social

Congratulations to fellow Knight News Challenge winner EveryBlock on the rollout today of their impressively revamped web service.  Per Mashable

EveryBlock, a hyperlocal news site acquired by msnbc.com in August 2009, unveiled a new version Monday designed to encourage conversation and collaboration among neighbors.

“We’re shifting from a one-way newsfeed to more of a community-empowered website,” says EveryBlock founder Adrian Holovaty. “Instead of going to the site to passively consume information, we’re going to offer a platform for posting messages to your neighbors, to discover who lives near you.”

In addition to the neighborhood-specific news, business reviews, crime reports and real estate listings the site delivered previously, a slew of new features encourages users to share and discuss local news, meet one another and coordinate neighborhood activities. Users will be able to create profiles, post about events and other topics of interest, as well as find neighbors who “follow” the same places to connect with those with similar tastes. (Soon, Holovaty says, the site hopes to integrate Foursquare’s API, but for now it will show neighbors who follow the same places on EveryBlock.)

Adrian and his team are doing great work.  He goes on to say…

“The web doesn’t yet offer an easy and effective way for people to post messages to their neighbors,” Holovaty explains. “Other social media tools are focused on people you already know — professional colleagues, friends, family. But how many people become Facebook friends with their neighbors?” he asks.

Front Porch Forum plays this role in our many Vermont pilot communities, and various blogs and e-lists do the same in hundreds of various neighborhoods across North America.  The first proof of social media, of course, is adoption… do people use it?  We’ll have to wait and see how EveryBlock fares on that front.  The second proof — can they make it pay? — well, I imagine Everyblock has more breathing room with deep-pocketed MSNBC.com holding the purse strings.

UPDATE: This bit from the Nieman Journalism Lab includes several more write ups about EveryBlock’s news.  The interview on Poynter is especially informative…

Holovaty answered a lot of questions about the redesign in a Poynter chat, saying that the site’s mission has changed from making people informed about their area as an end in itself to facilitating communication between neighbors in order to improve their communities. GigaOM’s Mathew Ingram applauded the shift in thinking, arguing that the main value in local news sites is in the people they connect, not in the data they collect. At 10,000 Words, Jessica Roy noted that the change was a signal that hyperlocal sites should focus not just on the online realm, but on fostering offline connections as well.

Sign of Spring in #BTV #VT

Flocks of red-winged black birds and cedar waxwings have descended on our neighborhood. Spring is nearly here!

Posted by Nancy to her nearby South Burlington neighbors today on Front Porch Forum.  Come on spring!

AOL acquires Outside.in for $10 million

From Lost Remote today…

AOL is acquiring the hyperlocal blog aggregator Outside.in for $10 million, reports TechCrunch. That’s $4.4 million less than Outside.in’s total funding to date. As you might imagine, AOL plans to integrate Outside.in’s aggregation in Patch, its network of hyperlocal news sites.

The acquisition means that Patch can beef up its coverage through aggregation, which conceivably would include links to competing hyperlocal newspapers and blogs. Or similarly, Patch can reduce its original coverage by relying more on aggregation. Either way, today’s news illustrates that AOL is still invested in Patch’s success.

UPDATE: Good commentary going on about this acquisition and broader themes… here, here and elsewhere.  A concise analysis was offered in this tweet about mega-chains of hyperlocal sites…

because they have no soul — RT @marshallk: why haven’t hyperlocal news services like Outside.in, Everyblock or Fwix won over the public? mathewi

UPDATE 2: Mathew Ingram has a good take on all this on GigaOm.