It turns out that the Internet doesn’t just consolidate countless villages onto one global platform. It can also enable localism and showcase quirky, distinctive variety. One of the earliest examples of Internet-based localism was Meetup.com, which the Howard Dean presidential campaign famously used to bring together supporters in dozens of communities. Now an interesting new website takes online localism to a new level entirely. Placeblogger.com provides a global directory of blogs, wikis and other resources that focus on your neighborhood or town.
What exactly is a “placeblog”? The site describes it as “an act of sustained attention to a particular place over time. It can be done by one person, a defined group of people, or in a way that’s open to community contribution. It’s not a newspaper, though it may contain random acts of journalism. It’s about the lived experience of a place.” The site continues:
_Placeblogs are sometimes called “hyperlocal sites” because some of them focus on news events and items that cover a particular neighborhood in great detail — and in particular, places that might be too physically small or sparsely populated to attract much traditional media coverage. Because of this, many people have associated them with the term “citizen journalism,” or journalism done by non-journalists.
The Placeblogger site is still in its early stages. Only 1,119 placeblogs are listed for the United States, and most of the 41 other countries have fewer than 10 blogs listed. Still, the project is a great idea, and has an enormous potential.
The site has an impressive roster of backers: the Center for Citizen Media (Dan Gillmor, author of We The Media: Grassroots Journalism for the People, by the People), Pressthink blog (Jay Rosen, the NYU journalism professor and founder of NewAssignment.net), the Berkman Center, among others. Placeblogger was started and is edited by Lisa Williams, who runs H2otown, a placeblog for Watertown, Massachusetts. If you know of any placeblogs, please add them to the growing list on the site.