Jarvis Is A Local Yokel

Jeff thinks people undervalue local:

[from Local lives]

[…] I care about local and so do most people I know, regardless of age. We care about our local taxes, restaurants, crimes, construction, economy, services, communities, neighborhoods, and gossip, too. I would take in more local reporting — more broadly definied — if it existed. I say we need more local reporting, not less, and it needs to get more local. I would like to see how the NowPublic infrastructure could be outsourced to help incumbent local news companies and new local news companies do that. I think that would be a more productive path for discussion than just dismissing local as the province of provincial old farts like me. And then we need to organize it and that’s why I’m excited by Outside.In (to which — full disclosure — I am an adviser).

The great opportunity in local is that no one has solved it yet.

I think Jeff is a bit dreamy about an old-time notion of locality, or generationally oriented toward his turf as locality.

I think one reason the local newspapers are falling by the wayside, in a time of increased mobility and generations of growing mobility behind us is that people have less connections to the specific turf that they sleep in or work in. The social capital in the neighborhood continues to dwindle.

In its place is – for some – an increased sense of involvement with those most local in our non-geographic social networks.

Locality is changing. It is coming to mean those that we are close to, no matter where they reside, no matter their mother tongue, no matter where they lay their heads.

Sure, I care about the restaurant reviews where I am living, but I also care about those in London, where I spend a lot of time. I care about the earthquake in San Francisco, but I am concerned about the heatwave in Europe where so many that I love live.

So, I think Jeff is way off base in his thinking about local.

[And I particularly don’t but the Outside.in model, which I panned here:

[from Outside.in Dec 5 2006]

For the promise of Outside.in to be realized, it would have to be reconceptualized using a better social architecture:

  1. Put people front and center in the app – allow people to affiliate with neighborhoods and zipcodes. I want to be able to discover new people, not just read about things and events. Create profiles for people, where they can affiliate with an infinite number of locales.
  2. Move to a social media model – I would willingly tag my location-oriented posts with some beacon defined by Outside.in (“locale:soma/sf/ca” or “zipcode:94107”), which the tool could use to pull stories. Allow people to comment on the stories within Outside.in.
  3. Allow people to define locales by tagging – I should be able to state that I call my neighborhood “North Hills”, and draw it on the map. It doesn’t have to be decided by the management of Outside.in. This is perhaps the biggest challenge for a location-oriented service like Outside.in, and the one that is so important to get right.

Until changes like these are made, Outside.in won’t really do much of anything, and fails the social litmus test: people will not take up a tool that doesn’t take them into its foreground.

The discussion I had in the comments with Steven Johnson is worth reviewing.]

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