Archive for the ‘Social Networking’ Category

More about your community at the touch of a button

July 9, 2010


Online social networking may revolutionise the way we view our communities.

In the past five years, we’ve witnessed the rise of the massive online social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter. The number of users on these networks has increased many-fold during this period, and it has become a key component in the social lives of many individuals – some almost literally live on it, I swear. Combined with highly interactive gadgets such as the iPhone, remaining social while miles from anywhere has never been easier. Then there’s Google Maps, the online global map that many internet users have become accustomed to using in finding friends’ homes, local businesses and directions – some people are so dependent on it that common sense no longer prevails as demonstrated by a woman in the US who sued Google Maps. But now there’s a new type of online social networking that has the potential to change the way we explore and see the neighbourhoods we live in.

The latest generation of online applications takes this a step further than just finding locations, they go on to make suggestions about places to visit and things to do, from a new exhibit down at the museum right through to special deals at the local restaurants and even simple tips. New online communities such as Foursquare are giving rise to a new form of social engineering that goes beyond simply keeping in touch with friends online but encourages social networking in the real world through the discovery of new places in our communities.

Foursquare isn’t the only online platform that seeks to encourage online communities to explore their cities. Other sites such as Google Latitude and MyTown are driving online socialisers to explore their communities by making it easier, all easily viewable from any iPhone or Blackberry. There’s much benefit to be gained by many different individuals. Businesses that otherwise may not be noticed can reach out to the local community for attention, and locals who otherwise would not venture off their straight and narrow path are encouraged to discover and try new things. It could also make living more efficient and cities smarter by being able to discover places and events in your community without having to physically seek them out by driving or walking around. These new types of social networking sites have the potential to change the way we see our cities, and the way in which we would otherwise go about our (busy and sometimes repetitive) daily lives.