We’re connected online to EVERYONE we ever knew, but our neighbors.

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Here’s a link to a fantastic Fast Company article by Christina Chaey, called “Can Nextdoor Turn Your Neighbors Into A Billion-Dollar Social Network?“. I hadn’t heard of Nextdoor (things get to the UK a bit later than I’d like, so I have to really be reading my Twitter Feed and checking it out.

In my last post, “Time for reconnection”, I mentioned that I feel that we’re reaching a new phase in terms of our attitude towards our “digital life” and the gadgets and screens that are impacting our lives.

Of the many great points that she makes about this level of “localised” marketing, was the fact that one of the keys to fuelling Facebook’s success was the fact that it began on a college campus. It delivered impact for a group of people that were forming a sort of “neighborhood” at Harvard University, mostly because it offered the very useful service of making it easier to get to know who you were going to school with (regardless of what you may have been intending to do with that information).

An excerpt from the post itself that should make you want to go and read the whole thing is the description of the “aha! moment” from the Nextdoor CEO, Nirav Tolia:

Listening to Tolia describe Nextdoor, it’s surprising the platform didn’t exist two years ago. We have Facebook to keep up with friends, LinkedIn to network with professional contacts, andTwitter to discuss our interests. But Tolia wondered, Why isn’t there a place online for people to connect with their next-door neighbors?

I recently joined Streetlife.com, which is a local network that covers my part of London. Can’t say I’ve used it much, but I am beginning to want more from my Social Networking experience than people’s personal moments, political rants, all of which can become a major distraction to getting anything done. (See the reference to research on Facebook Fatigue in the Fast Company article – link above).

Recent post (which are sent to me in my email) topics include:

  • Could you or anyone you know help this poor woman
  • NHS dentist recommendation
  • Jam jars urgently wanted
  • Wandsworth Preparatory School Open night
  • Free wooden desk and desk chair
  • Sourcing Spanish food: flour and peppers
  • Best estate agent for renting (one I will be checking out soon)

I can see a real use for this, and the idea that services like Nextdoor and Streetlife have deliberately separated themselves from Facebook, etc is probably a smart one. Some people would like to differentiate very clearly between friends, professional contacts and neighbors and although you can always create groups (on Facebook) or circles (on Google+), it’s sometimes nice to know that it’s a completely separate identity (which for some people it most definitely is).