A couple of somewhat conflicting articles today. I love those!
On one hand, Amy Gahran over at Poynter.org challenges the Knight Foundation for their “strong focus on geographically defined local communities” in the context of a Silicon Valley community forum event. She says: “It seems to me that with the way the media landscape has been evolving, geographically defined local communities are becoming steadily less crucial from an information perspective.”
On the other hand, in an article called “The web’s future is a ‘village'”, the BBC reports on a study from HP Labs that talks about what happens “when information becomes more available, cheap and valueless”
“Mr Huberman said the overwhelming amount of information online was also starting to affect relationships. “With Facebook many people boast of having 100, 200 friends but in reality only keep up or track a very few of them.” On this basis Mr Huberman concludes that we are returning to a time where we maintain close contact with a small number of people – enough people to fill a village. “Things are starting to become intimate again,” he said. “We went through this explosion, this illusion that the world is at my fingertips and I can reach anyone and everybody. But at the end of the day we notice that we actually interact with very few.”
What it means: when faced with information overload, we go back to known quantity. That’s one of the reasons why I believe local represents the future of the Web. Most of us live our offline life locally (we say in the directory industry everything happens within 50 miles of our home or office). With more and more local merchants going online and more and more hyperlocal initatives like Metroblogging, Outside.in, Citysquares and newcomers like Neighborsville or Yipit, we’ll be able to drill down on the local information that matters to us. I’ll definitely welcome this new Local Wide Web (LWW?)…
Update: Howard Owens chimes in on the Pointer.org article with a great analysis.