Get Outside and go Hyperlocal

I recently came across, a self-described "hyperlocal news and information service" that helps you "get news for the places and neighborhoods you really care about." The site tracks 35,312 towns and neighborhoods. You can either enter a post code or the name of the neighborhood you want to get stories about. Results are sorted by date and tags.

Neighborhoods can also be searched by categories such as 'Arts and Culture', 'Bars and Clubs' and 'Education.' This will result in an alphabetically sorted list of places with news and blog posts about them.

If you want to get even more local, you can use the radar function. It's customized to exactly where you are and what’s going on right around you. Enter a location and you'll see everything happening right around you: Blog posts, news stories, discussion posts, and Twitter updates.

The site can be a bit messy. You can't search local places by tags, just by categories. Why, for example, isn't there simple search for a 'news' tag? The category search also needs be refined, e.g. the robbery of a pharmacy was listed under services...

These little issues aside I think the basic premise of the site is great: Being informed about wherever you are.

Why rely on the local press when you can utilize a multitude of information? All the more, given that some local markets are completely dominated by one media conglomerate and its products. Breaking monopolies on information is certainly a good thing.

To utilize the site's potential even better I'd suggest the implementation of a democratic catalyst – aka a voting system a la Digg – as this would bring noteworthy local stories to the attention of more readers, a function the traditional press still excels in.

The site should also be optimized for mobile devices to exploit its potential best; another possibility would be an app for the iPhone which instantly let's you know what's happening in your hotel's/ business partner's/ friend's neighborhood. Wherever, whenever. GPS detection would even make make entering a post code redundant.

You could combine the service with a program like Calibre. Calibre has built-in ‘recipes’ to download articles from news outlets' RSS feeds to present them in a much more streamlined e-book type format, and can then transfer this information to mobile readers. By this, the articles can also be consumed offline.

Imagine customized RSS-feed turned into your own personalized local newspaper complete with all the sections you'd normally expect from a press outlet. From politics to sports, complete with illustrations, except with more updates.

The potential of sites like is tremendous. No wonder the future looks tough for the traditional press.


The Weekend News, BlogCampaigning-style

People have been saying that newspapers are dead or dying and although I agree, I can't say I'm happy with it. As I've mentioned before here, one of my favorite things to do on an early weekend morning (or holiday Monday morning like today) is to pick up a copy of the The Globe and Mail and slowly read it over while having a latte from one of my favorite haunts in Toronto's Little Italy area. One of the articles that I read was headlined "Ads Critical For MySpace" (I'd link to it, but for some reason I can't find it on the Globe and Mail website). I always think it is interesting to read about MySpace because with all the Facebook hype, we often forget that MySpace is more popular in the states, and will probably continue to be for a little while. The article talks about how MySpace now allows advertisers to more directly target users. It seems like a great idea, and similar to what Facebook offers, but I was surprised to read that some advertisers were worried that their ads might show up on MySpace profile pages that displayed risque photos. Is it a valid concern? Possibly. But one that advertisers are going to have to deal with if they want to display their ads in the highly personal world of online social networks.

Another interesting article in today's paper was about an airplane that crashed in BC. Even though the plane's transponder had broken, rescue workers were still able to find the crash survivors thanks to one of them being able to text a friend. I think that as cellular networks have greater range and phones start to come equipped with GPS as a standard feature, we'll see them featuring more regularly in rescues like this.

Another article in the paper mentioned that another Cuban athlete had gone missing at an international tournament in Edmonton. While the article didn't mention what type of tournament the athlete was competing in, it did say that Fidel Castro himself had written a column on the "World Wide Web" criticizing Edmonton for being a "dumping ground for Cuban athletes."

I don't really have an opinion one way or another about the legality of Cuban athletes defecting during mysterious tournaments, but I do question the author's use of the term "World Wide Web." Are we back in 1994?

Maybe I'll make this "Weekend News" type of post a regular feature on BlogCampaigning. I find that I pay more attention to the articles I'm reading when I plan to write about them.

Do you still read paper editions of the newspaper? Or have you moved to completely online versions?


The Future Of Newspapers

You absolutely have to watch this video about Microsoft's Photosynth if you want to understand what Mark Evans is talking about when he says that will be the way we can browse through an online newspaper in much the same manner we do a paper newspaper. (watch the video before reading more!)

However, I think that Photosynth will be much more than that. I think that it will probably revolutionize the way we do any of our online work. Done correctly, ordinary websites wouldn't require any clicking in order to navigate them. Users would simply zoom in and out, and I'm sure that it would even be able to add fields. One corner of a giant 'image' could be a users inbox, while another could be Wikipedia. There is a lot of possibility here.

I realize that a Photosynth-style web is probably still a long way off (as most computers probably don't have the processing power or connection speeds necessary to make it work) but we all know how quickly technology is changing.

I'm probably going to be dreaming about some sort of Photosynth-Facebook super-mashup tonight...