Placeblogging gets new start-ups or Local will not die

My friend Lisa Williams is about to launch Placeblogger, an OPML-based aggregator that will be a directory of local blogs–blogs focused on a place, not neccessarily news blogs–around the country.
Now Steve Berlin Johnson, one of the more reflective writers I read, announces that’s he’s got a stealth local start-up called outside.in–a service that aggregates local news, blogs and other feeds into one handy-dandy destination page (a fulsome example is at 11217–Park Slope, Brooklyn, where Johnson lives)–Palo Alto seems a little, uh bare right now).
Like Backfence, the too-early Bayosphere, and dozens of local news-focused sites like BaristaNet (Montclair, NJ), outside.in will try to generate value for a local community and serve as the starting point and destination.
The difference between outside.in and some of these earlier sites, however, is that rather than serve as a place to create and post content (think stable of writers model) these new sites use feeds, tagging and GEO-URL to create a service that can aggregate and therefore serve as the epicenter of local user generated content–in other words, something more similar to what Topix has been tryng to do with its local local content (see Palo Alto in their planet here and Park Slope here).
Susan sez: It energizes me to see efforts to get local *right* come round and round again as the tools and users evolve. Back in the early mid to late 90s, we did New Jersey Online, a local site with news, forums, and personality, then truly local sites like BaristaNet popped up in the 00s and newspapers improved their skin in the game, and then we got into the citizen journalism thing big time and lots of efforts faltered a bit as others worked–and now here’s the latest placeblogging incarnation starting to develop and it is going to be very interesting.
Susan sez 2: The ever-more techy site of me has to point out the intense value of companies like Yahoo supporting their efforts through a rich series of APIs. One obvious implication of these aggregator sites is that the do ride on tools–and APIs- developed by others, so the importance of haing local APIs and making them available to people working at this level is critical. (Imagine if say a big web FooBar business decided to have a rich API and offer it to placebloggers and the placebloggers all created local APIs driving back to that business and just think how much that business might gain in distribution and referral if all these emerging hyperlocal bloggers picked the feed up…and…you get the drill.)
And then of course there is the business woman part of me which is constantly interested in how to support local, targeted advertising–the sweet spot of all this growth.
So, the ever-shifting continuance of local and the rise of placeblogging are great–and may a thousand flowers–and many more placeblogs–flourish.
BONUS: Steve has some points about placeblogs worth repeating:
1. It’s all about hyperlocal.
2. A post can be local, even if the blogger isn’t (and therefore worth aggregating)
3. Neighborhoods are more important that maps.
4. Geo-tags and location-aware tags are good, but it’s also important to have other filters– date, for example.
5. Local news often has a long-shelf life.

Latest Comments

  1. deb schultz says:

    I love this placeblogging stuff! I would have killed for this back when I ran NY Downtown Info Center.

  2. Benjamin Melançon says:

    I am all in favor of microformats, tagging, aggregating, all of this sort of thing and whatever you want to call it– but looking ahead, when it gets popular, how do we stop geo-tag spam? Web sites that list a post as local just to get it picked up?
    Or will we always have to have sources approved first, and not just scan the internet for place-blogs?
    Anyhow I’ve just been thinking about this and it’s clear you’ve been thinking about all this stuff more!

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