Something I’ve been thinking about lately is the idea of localized web sites, or sites restricted to a smaller audience by either content matter or technological barriers. Having a global audience is great for meeting new people and being exposed to ideas and mindsets one may not have been aware of, but sometimes that’s too much exposure.
For example, as more members of my family slowly become wired, the idea of having a common, family-only place for us all to go and talk and post pictures seems like the next logical step beyond email. I’d actually prefer that to email, given shared common archives and search options, but it might be a barrier for other members of the family who aren’t as comfortable with technology.
So it’s been interesting watching details emerge about Project Comet, a new product from Six Apart. It’s looking as if it might just be exactly what I think our family needs, with features like photo sharing, media lists, and private weblogs. What I’m really interested in seeing is the content creation interface, and how they plan on making it accessible and user-friendly to people who aren’t technically proficient.
Also picking up in my neck of the woods are community-oriented sites and weblogs. Locally focused sites with content only relevant to people within a certain geographic region are a niche that hasn’t traditionally been done well on the internet. It seems to me that when you have a company driving the local content creation, there has to be a return in order to justify the resources, so you end up with company directory after company directory, maybe some events listings, a bit of weather, and not much else. Craigslist is a notable exception which has been expanding like crazy, but unless you live in one of the earlier cities it added, it’s not quite there yet. (Although it was good enough to find us a new place to live last time around, replacing the for-pay listing service I’d used prior.)
But in the hands of passionate individuals who simply want to share their knowledge and enthusiasm for the place they live, it’s a totally different experience. I’ve enjoyed watching new local content launch at an increasing pace, mostly in the form of weblogs thus far.
Long-running local favourite VanEats is written by enthusiastic technologist and food critique Roland Tanglao, a name some might recognize from the Bryght team. Also run by the same folks is UrbanVancouver, a sort of local news aggregator pulling from numerous sources around town. (Disclosure: I had a hand in the design a few years back.) Local duo Ianiv and Arieanna run Vancouver Coffee, a subject close to my heart. Neighbourhood-specific blogs kitsilano.ca and Beyond Robson just kicked off this spring, and even the local businesses are getting into the spirit: check out the amount of detail and obvious love for the location that has gone into this site for a relatively small commercial corner of the city at Macdonald and Fourth. The streetscape photo tours are similar to a feature amazon.com launched a while ago, but never found its way north of the border; I wish all commercial streets up here had online tours like these.