Friday, October 26, 2007

Social Networks Getting Smaller?

Much has been made of the growth of the big networking sites like MySpace and Facebook. As this table from Marketing Charts shows, there’s good reason for all the attention. They have tremendous reach. It’s easy to liken them to shopping malls, with something for everyone.

So I was intrigued last week when I ran across this article in the New York Times. The idea of a social network just for your apartment building made me to search to see what was available. LifeAt is the firm referenced in the article. It’s pretty new and the application below seems to be the work of the property manager, but if the residents choose to participate it will become interesting and vital.

As I looked I realized there were numerous sites where one can set up personal networks and other sites that have local collaborative content like There are, of course, local newspapers, which are offering many kinds of user-submitted content and creating community around that.

I feel another mashup opportunity coming on. There is growing support for the creation of neighborhood or small town communities although sites like FatDoor are in their infancy. Or web-savy residents will build sites on their own, taking feeds from sites like CitySearch and Craig’s List. They’ll adding a lot of opportunities for their neighbor to provide content and they’ll not only have vibrant local social nets, they’ll also have ideal opportunities for local advertising. It won’t be a virtual community like Second Life; it may in fact, be a lot more useful and engaging—a new version of the local shopping papers, but one that’s personal and interactive.
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