Readers of this blog will know that I am very interested in making locality more vibrant. And I am interested to see how digital platforms evolve to make this easier to achieve. So far, the results have not been that great.
One of the reasons came out the other day in a seminar here in Tartu about financing start ups. The seminar speakers gave the usual message – if you want financing, your idea has to scale. Check. That means, you need to be able to sell whatever you are making to a large client base. So “Click & Grow“, an Estonian start up, got the confidence of investors by showing global market potential. Nice!
But notice how this runs in the opposite direction from locality. Scaling is about selling to big markets, not about bringing attention to small ones. So it is no huge surprise that “hyper-local” web platforms are counter-intuitive for web developers.
There are exceptions. Sites like FourSquare and booking.com and airbnb and lots of other of these types of sites give you nice info on things you can buy or rent at any location. Nice. But these are area specific ads. So they help if you want to go out to eat, or to find a place to rest your bones. But they don’t get you “into” the locality. And I would argue that they do not make any locality more vibrant or interesting.
Can we do this? Of course we can. But to get this going, we need a new way of using the web. We are working on this in Tartu. And one thing is clear. This is largely a problem of connection based on identification and promotion.
More as we go!