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).

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2 Replies to “We’re connected online to EVERYONE we ever knew, but our neighbors.”

  1. Hello Andrew! I like this post because I would love to get to know the neighbors that live, literally, right next door to me, but in this digital age it seems easier to communicate through an online forum. I guess I could just go next door and introduce myself… and bring cookies! Happy holidays!

    1. Dawna! Wow, you (and about 9 other people) have read my blog! 🙂 Thanks! I know, it’s crazy that people get to know their neighbors on an online forum. I still like to meet my neighbors in person, but don’t necessarily want to be buddy-buddy with the whole block. That can get weird, real fast. I lived on one street in London with a lot of long-standing residents and people were a little too interested in each other’s gossip and personal lives. In that scenario, being able to ask the neighborhood for advice on a plumber, or how to get the local council to come and pick up an old sofa that you want to get rid of without having to go knock on people’s door is a nice thing. Kind of like how Facebook makes it easier to be “friends” with people that we haven’t (wanted to have) kept in touch with or heard from in years. (Present company excluded, of course).

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