We don't know where, we don't know when, but we do know for sure that disaster will strike. The only thing we can do is prepare for a day we hope never arrives: the day something turns our world upside-down, as Sandy has done for so many people in New York, New Jersey, and other parts of the East Coast.
You can help your neighborhood get ready for whatever calamity fate may have in store by creating a neighbor social network that links to emergency-preparedness information customized to your locality. The free Nextdoor private social network launched recently … Read more
When heading to a city like London on a budget, a service like Airbnb can be a godsend: with dozens and dozens of available apartments to choose from, a traveler can easily find a place to stay that's much less expensive than a hotel, and which offers privacy, a sense of home, and maybe most important of all, a kitchen.
Last year, I went to London on business and decided the visit was long enough to merit getting a place through Airbnb. But I hadn't been to the English capital since I was a teenager and had no … Read more
Google's Map Maker goes local by amplifying its service with information on neighborhood hot spots, cafes, gyms, and more. The Web giant announced today that it's doing this with a new Map Maker feature called Activity Stream.
Google Map Maker is a crowd-sourced mapping Web app that lets users create and customize maps on Google by adding locations and details on roads, businesses, landmarks, and other spots. It launched in 2008 and is available in most countries throughout the world. It's an important addition to Google's mapping services because it makes maps far more detailed.
In … Read more
There are probably hundreds of apps and sites that will help you find good places to eat and cool places to hang out. And then there's that gorilla, Yelp. But even in this crowded space, the new Loku has a secret sauce that works. It's too bad the best part of the site is not obvious, and that there's not yet a smartphone app from this company. But this is still a good site to get to know.
Loku finds news and recommends places in neighborhoods based on its algorithms that apply natural language processing and sentiment … Read more
Writer Walter Kirn tweeted something mid-summer that rang so poignant and true, I immediately "favorited" and re-tweeted: "The brilliant dark governing insight of social media is that most people prefer socializing alone."
Sure, all of this newfound sharing and real-time communication is awesome indeed. But the very same digital tools that heighten our reach and accessibility are somehow alienating us from each other more so than ever before. Human-to-human connection and communication, it seems, tends to get too intermediated by gadgets and gizmos.
Today, there's a new social network rolling out nationwide to help bridge … Read more
Peachtree City, Georgia is a planned community that boasts more than 90 miles of multiuse paths that connect neighborhoods, shopping centers, schools, and recreation facilities. A large percentage of families own at least one golf cart to tool around town on, including hundreds of students who drive to school in them. The community's low-car appetite helped earn it a spot on Money magazine's Top 100 cities to live.
But the community is about to weigh in on the green-versus-really green debate, as the town is considering to ban the future registration of gas-powered golf carts.
The city of … Read more
I've covered a few interesting sites that collate information that people living in neighborhoods could use (see reviews of Zillow Community Pages and StreetAdvisor). None of them, so far, has replaced for me my local neighborhood paper (The Noe Valley Voice). The paper, of course, is limited. It's old news, it's not social, and it's not interactive. But it is relevant.
The new Everyblock does a really good job of collecting neighborhood information from existing sources. It does not appear that its founders are trying to create a new Yelp or a new Craigslist. Instead, smartly, … Read more
Fatdoor is an upcoming social network that's all about location. Instead of creating your network of friends based on interests or real-life relationships, the creators of Fatdoor want you to use the service to get a better feel for your neighborhood and what's going on around you.
The system works by slurping in local business and residential listings, and placing them on a Microsoft Virtual Earth map. While the businesses get pinpoint-accuracy, residential listings are clumped together in a general area, until users decide to claim the house or building as their own. Each user gets their own … Read more
An interesting new community site launched this morning. And by community, I mean real community: the street you live on. StreetAdvisor is a place to rate your block and meet your neighbors.
The rating system lets you review your street on five main scales (vibe, wired, health, value, essentials), each of which has subscores (for example, the wired scale includes a cellular coverage score). That's a lot of ratings to give, but you can, if you want, just give the main overview scores.
You can also upload video tours of your street, which could be a great resource for people looking to move on to a particular street. It's usefulness, however, depends on people reviewing and rating their streets honestly. It also assumes that real estate pros don't try to game the system by artificially inflating streets on which they have houses for sale (or dragging down scores on streets where they don't). The co-founders told me that have measures in place are in place to help prevent that.
For residents of a particular street, the system's "StreetBoard" also serves as a local resource. It's a social network with an open message board ("StreetShout") for street-related discussion with your neighbors. It also has a wiki-like element: You can find the numbers of local services (police, doctors, post offices) or enter them yourself for others to see.