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Friday, January 25, 2008

The challenges of hyperlocal

Great post from venture capitalist Fred Wilson about hyperlocal. He identifies the inherent problems facing hyperlocal - small, really locally focused online publications:

"There is the problem that over half of the stories are about things that don't really impact or interest me. Steven Johnson calls this the "pothole paradox." That pothole in front of your home or apartment is a big deal to you, but your friend four blocks over couldn't care less. And The Villager [Fred's hyperlocal site] is barely scraping by living off local advertising that is moving fast and furious to Adwords and other forms of web advertising."
He talks about two hyperlocal services, one that he's invested in called and the other a new one called Everyblock. Both show terrific promise (Everyblock, for example, lets you search for building permits, lost and found, news articles and crime rates in a particular zipcode) but as he puts it: it's going to be a long slog to get hyperlocal to work.

"There just aren't that many people producing hyperlocal content in a form that is organizable into a new version of a community newspaper.

"And there isn't enough of an incentive to produce hyperlocal content. If a mom (or dad) could blog for two hours every morning between dropping off her kids and going shopping and make $1000-2000/month doing that, we would see a lot more content getting produced. And who better to blog about the high school soccer game, the PTA meeting the night before, or the controversy about the new supermarket coming to town?"

"We need every newspaper in the country to embrace platforms like and everyblock and showcase their content on the newspaper's pages. We need to find these local voices and amplify them. And we need to attract more of them. And we need to monetize them for their efforts. And then we will have a new kind of community newspaper, one that we program and we read and we comment on. It's coming. I just don't know when."