The future of local

Part one in a series of posts about The Future Of Local written as research for Talk About Local.

localismA few weeks ago Will Perrin asked me to do some writing for him. The brief was vast and vague – just how I like it – and having thought about the issues over December I’m going to process my thoughts in a series of blog posts.

This isn’t the end result. That’ll probably be a couple of articles for the Talk About Local website tying things together and making a point. This is social processing, where the act of talking about the subject helps me drill down and formulate my thoughts on it.

In short, Will wants me to examine where local media is going next. Buzz around “hyperlocal” has died down (one could say “the hype has left hyperlocal” if one were a witty wag) and there are stirrings from big media looking to move into this space with government support for local TV through the Localism bill. Meanwhile the online space appears to be fracturing into smaller and smaller pieces thanks to the dominance of Facebook and Twitter while the notion of an online community becomes so vague as to seem rather quaint.

Are we seeing a normalisation of the social internet? Is this, to all purposes, a return to the pre-2000s dynamic of a few big players dominating a lot of chatter? Are local blogs no different to local groups and societies? Or has there been a fundamental shift in how people relate to the places they live in? Did the blogging revolution actually happen?

Over the next couple of weeks I’ll be working through these questions and many more. Since no-one really knows what’s going to happen in the future, least of all me, I’ll welcome your thoughts and ideas. This is, after all, social processing.


Image from this article about surfing where “localism” has a quite specific meaning.

One thought on “The future of local

  1. Hi Pete,

    I actually started my blog before I was aware of the concept ‘Hyperblogging’. I was simply interested in ‘Place’, partially because I travelled to work daily through fields that were being farmed, when I suddenly realised, I knew nothing about that space, the crops, the animals, the sprays etc. My blog grew from that insight and I started to write about the space around me. As a local Parish Councillor I naturally included stories about my ‘actions’ within my local space. The ‘talkaboutlocal’ project found me and once I became aware of that I had been linked to I found an idea/label to describe my activity.
    But I also found the Project for Public Spaces web site, see they write:
    “Project for Public Spaces (PPS) is a non-profit planning, design and educational organization dedicated to helping people create and sustain public spaces that build stronger communities. Our pioneering Placemaking approach helps citizens transform their public spaces into vital places that highlight local assets, spur rejuvenation and serve common needs.”
    My interest in Place and my Community were also reinforced by this Project. I’m the proud owner of ‘The Great Neighborhood Book’ by PPS Senior Fellow Jay Walljasper.
    I have now ordered his latest book: ‘All That We Share: A Field Guide to the Commons’. As a putative ‘leveller’, see #Addiply I have an abiding interest in ‘The Commons’. Perhaps Jay’s latest book will help you clarify your thinking about ‘local’. Jay’s notes on the PPS web site seem to point to some synergy,
    “Jay discusses the commons — the things in life that belong to everyone, from water and wilderness to the internet and public spaces. Once we realize that we are all “commoners,” each of us can shift our focus from “me” to “we” in order to better our own lives and those of others.
    Showcasing first-person stories, cartoons, real-world examples, photographs and thoughtful analysis, All That We Share offers its readers practical steps for improving the collective well-being and brings to life the promise of the commons as a new social, political and community tool. In a time when the economy is shaky, politics are volatile and people are wondering about their futures, this book offers a genuine measure of hope that people like us can make a difference around the world.”

    I must add a note of caution, I’m still waiting for my copy from Amazon and it may simply prove to be a red-herring but I suspect strongly that the debate about ‘local’ will involve many strands of thinking and sources of ideas,

    All the best for New Year.

    Sean Brady(formbyfirst)

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