Read Write Web’s founder and editor Richard McManus (a popular blog devoted to web technology news, reviews, and analysis) has recently posted about future web trends (here and here). Many different concepts are included, such as the creation of the semantic web, the growth of the mobile web, and the rise of hyperlocal applications and content.
The Knight Foundation’s News Challenge is clearly concerned with local journalism and how communities can take advantage of digital technology to deliver breaking news and information, so the hyperlocal trend is of particular interest here.
Here’s what Richard said about hyperlocalism:
“Hyperlocal: Sebastien Provencher forsees “the transformation of the web into an exciting hyperlocal tool.” He said that the combination of the social web, geo-tagging standards, GPS-enabled mobile devices, and the eventual arrival en masse of small merchants and online municipal governments “will forever change the way we see our city or our neighborhood.”
On the same theme, commenter #66, Jacqueline*, said that “local and hyperlocal content/news systems are going to blow up in the not-so-distant future; based on the whole citizen journalism trend (and things like iphones, twitter, and devices/apps that haven’t even been invented yet will make it possible for people to post breaking news literally as it happens).”
Some of the characteristics typically mentioned when the concept of the hyperlocal web is discussed include things like the ability to find information that relates to your locale quickly and easily, and that things like local websites foster a sense of belonging to a specific community (and when I use the word “community”, I’m referring to it in the geographic sense instead of it meaning a group of people with shared interests). After all, the web has made it easier than ever to organize and share information, so using it to bring the inhabitants of various cities, towns, and villages makes perfect sense.
Although plenty of websites, message boards, and blogs already devote themselves to local content, there is really no major standard to organize it all; also, if you live in a larger municipality, it might be difficult to even find the information you’re looking for due to the sheer breadth of the offerings. Vice versa, if you happen to live in a small village or rural area, there might not be any content at all relating your area.
One thing that could make finding local information and news easier to find could be the adoption of geo-tagging standards (tagging any posts, photos, or video clips with related location(s)). This could lead to a way to organize, regulate, and deliver all the valuable content produced by citizen journalists to both their immediate community and the world at large. As the mobile web grows and devices like smart phones become more popular, systems or applications that deliver breaking news and local information will become even more essential. Of course, if you have any ideas, or are working on a project that relates to the hyperlocal web, you should check out the Knight News Challenge.
*Yes, I am the Jacqueline referenced in this quote.