Ghost of Midnight

… about neighbors, community and Front Porch Forum

“Neighbor Connect” online space heating up

Posted on Thursday, October 6, 2011 by 1 comment

Congratulations to Conor White-Sullivan and the team at Localocracy… recent acquisition of Huffington Post, as reported by Kara Swisher on WSJ’s All Things D.  Arianna Huffington said “[Conor and team are] pioneers in using the web to empower citizens to improve their towns, and their unique vision and talents will enable us to deepen our users’ engagement with our sites.”

This is further evidence of the “neighbor connect” online space heating up.  In the past year, I’m aware of at least two dozen significant start-ups focused on facilitating conversation among people who live near each other.  Some, like Localocracy, aim at niches (local ballot issues and related), while others intend to promote a general sense of community.

Huffington Post/AOL joins, which acquired last year, in this space, as well as many other new VC-backed and boot-strapped entrants. Most start-ups in this area appear to be strong on tech and weak on traction.  That is, they can crank out the code, but few people actually show up and use their product.  To make matters worse, many attempt to open up everywhere all at once.  As a friend said… “a mile wide and an inch deep.”

Front Porch Forum is an established leader in this space, with amazing traction in our state.  More than half of our primary city participates.  In another FPF town, 75% of members post… much higher than the 1-10% seen on many social sites.  And the member success stories flow through FPF faster than we can write them down.  People use FPF to reduce crime, find jobs, give away baby gear, reunite with lost pets, recommend roofers, debate ballot measures, call city hall on the carpet, and much more.

With our new web application recently launched, we look forward to bringing Front Porch Forum to communities far and wide.

Posted in: Community Building, Democracy, e-Vermont, Front Porch Forum, Good Government, Knight Foundation, Local Online, MacArthur Fellows, Neighborhood, Neighborhood Watch, social capital, Social Networking, Start ups, Vermont

One comment

  1. Steven Clift says:

    We’ve been tracking and linking these many projects here:

    And many of the folks behind these type of projects connect here:

    (Although the commericial folks don’t really speak up much.)

    As a non-profit in the space, we are extremely concerned with serving all communities not just those who might potentially generate the most revenue. Although I remain extremely skeptical that the “traction” you need to generate revenue will exist for many if not most of the new entrants.

    Anyway, you can get a sense of what inclusion can look like: … go down a few posts.

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