One keeps hearing about globalisation and the world becoming a smaller place and people aiming to be `citizens of the world’. But even as this unfolds I find another interesting trend gaining traction, that of people seeking identity and meaning within their neighbourhood communities..and using the internet as a means of doing so!
I want the world to know me but I also want my neighbours to know me & I want to know them too….So while I create an online, digitised (sanitised ..?) life for myself and gather around me `twittering’ friends and am globally `linked in’.. I also want the companionship and togetherness that neighbourhood flesh and blood community dwellers can give. So I put two and two together and use the `online’ to enhance the `offline’.
Businesses are already tapping into this increasing`local’ social identification. There is Topix, in the US, which aggregates close to 150,000 `comments’ from 20,000 towns across the country. It’s CEO, Chris Tolles, says that three quarters of the comments are on local happenings/news that have not found their way into any newspapers or other media. He senses a huge business opportunity in weaving `micro-local’ markets into a national network for advertisers.
Students of Anna University have launched Areapal.com. Again the focus being on finding and nurturing neighourhood relationships. Enthused by the response in hometown Chennai they are now looking to expand to other cities and localities.
Then there is SadakMap that is enabling communities to be created, updated and connected around localities.
We seem to be finding meaning in being part of a close-knit community, contributing to it’s betterment and benefiting from the association in turn. Are the days of people leading `portable’ lifestyles that don’t park long enough in one spot to accumulate lasting local bonds giving way, once more, to our neighbours and our neigbourhood become intricately woven into the fabric of our everyday life?