The Local Wide Web

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.

15 thoughts on “The Local Wide Web

  1. “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…”

    Hear hear Seb! The future of the web is, indeed, local.

    10 years ago the predictions were that e-commerce was going to destroy brick and mortar business as we know it. It was doomsday, it was an apocalypse. Here we are, 10 years later, and e-commerce only makes up 5% of all retail spending nationally. The rest is still conducted locally, in your relevant locality. That 5% has been pinned there for years. It won’t likely ever change.

    The Internet is a tool, no different than the apes in Space Odyssey 2001 found in those bones laying around. If it doesn’t make our lives easier than it’s useless, or novelty. As those lives we’re living, as you said, mostly conducted offline, and locally.

  2. “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…”

    Hear hear Seb! The future of the web is, indeed, local.

    10 years ago the predictions were that e-commerce was going to destroy brick and mortar business as we know it. It was doomsday, it was an apocalypse. Here we are, 10 years later, and e-commerce only makes up 5% of all retail spending nationally. The rest is still conducted locally, in your relevant locality. That 5% has been pinned there for years. It won’t likely ever change.

    The Internet is a tool, no different than the apes in Space Odyssey 2001 found in those bones laying around. If it doesn’t make our lives easier than it’s useless, or novelty. As those lives we’re living, as you said, mostly conducted offline, and locally.

  3. Good post, Seb. I agree with you and Ben that the future of the web is, indeed, local.

    A key challenge in the transition to a local web is making sure there is enough user generated content on a local basis. For example, if our Youtube experience was just the videos our friends shared or videos our neighborhood shared, the videos would probably be more relevant and interesting to me but there would be very few of them. If the web is going to get more intimate, more local, we might need to see significant increases in user participation rates on the major web 2.0 sites.

  4. Good post, Seb. I agree with you and Ben that the future of the web is, indeed, local.

    A key challenge in the transition to a local web is making sure there is enough user generated content on a local basis. For example, if our Youtube experience was just the videos our friends shared or videos our neighborhood shared, the videos would probably be more relevant and interesting to me but there would be very few of them. If the web is going to get more intimate, more local, we might need to see significant increases in user participation rates on the major web 2.0 sites.

  5. Couldn’t agree more. The best of both worlds is high quality content from people and organizations that I know and trust. For years, when content was limited, we had to forgo the latter for the former. As more and more of my friends start participating online, exciting social LBS applications (e.g., Loopt) start to become feasible. And as we get more content from local businesses and organizations, more of my search and news can be personally relevant as well.

  6. Couldn’t agree more. The best of both worlds is high quality content from people and organizations that I know and trust. For years, when content was limited, we had to forgo the latter for the former. As more and more of my friends start participating online, exciting social LBS applications (e.g., Loopt) start to become feasible. And as we get more content from local businesses and organizations, more of my search and news can be personally relevant as well.

  7. couldn’t agree with you more. the web 1.0 was structured around topics, interests, keywords and did a fantastic job of connecting people across the world. this new version takes the best of that, and brings it closer to home. it started with social networking, and connecting friends, and is now moving to help people connect to their community. there is an explosion in citizen journalism, and as more newspapers fold, folks are picking up the slack. with the absence of the historic “town hall” or church meetings, the web is the perfect outlet to connect with neighbors and neighborhood happenings.

  8. couldn’t agree with you more. the web 1.0 was structured around topics, interests, keywords and did a fantastic job of connecting people across the world. this new version takes the best of that, and brings it closer to home. it started with social networking, and connecting friends, and is now moving to help people connect to their community. there is an explosion in citizen journalism, and as more newspapers fold, folks are picking up the slack. with the absence of the historic “town hall” or church meetings, the web is the perfect outlet to connect with neighbors and neighborhood happenings.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s