Neighborhood News, Bringing Local Communities Closer Together

Neighborhoods are in a tough spot these days. Neighbors are increasingly less likely to involve in their local communities. Neighborhood association involvement is at an all time low. Civic and community organizers have increasingly difficult jobs, as people change their focus from physical to virtual engagement.

In the online world, people are trying to meet neighborhood needs, yet it isn’t easy. In the increasingly social media world, neighbors have a distinct relationship that isn’t captured well by traditional tools . The relationship is strange: neighbors are not friends, and yet they are not strangers. They share a lot in common, yet they also keep many areas of their life private. They are not served by search, nor are they served by Facebook. And Yahoo Groups is a rudimentary tool, not specifically made for the neighborhood context.

It’s just a matter of time before somebody solves this need. In my opinion, it comes down to sparking and hosting conversations. Neighbors don’t talk about each other (at least to somebody’s face), they talk about other things. The weather, construction, crime, or local businesses.

However, our technology and social media relationships have to change to make room for physical neighbors in our virtual world. People will have to become accustomed to conversations and dialogue online, not just consuming content. In a self oriented world where micro blogging about your bathing habits gets followers, can we create a space for more meaningful, and local, dialog? Or will people continue to look for meaningful debate in forums with only like-minded peers, and not engage locally?

I have a theory that you may or may not agree with. I believe that blogs rule on the Search Engines due to one main reason, fresh content. There are endless debates among SEO professionals over whether quality content or back links are the most important to Google. These discussions miss the point if they are talking about quality content without taking into consideration content freshness.

Quality fresh content will win every time over and above any other consideration in Search Engine Optimization. The freshness of content is something that Google can judge quite easily whenever a web page is reindexed. It merely compares the current content with the index of the content from the last visit. I would submit, that the Google Spiders will require a much more sophisticated algorithm to judge quality content than freshness, and this is the main reason why freshness is all important.

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