FutureWire - futurism and emerging technology

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Won't You Be My Neighbor?

In today's world, it's tough to meet even your closest neighbors. Unless you're unemployed or telecommute, you probably don't spend much time at home during weekdays. At night, you're too tired to socialize, and you have other things to do anyway. On weekends, you're out as well. Besides proximity, our neighbors don't seem to have much in common with us. And when we do speak to them, it's often out of argument or conflict.

Through social software, one enterpreneur has decided to do something about that. If people can use the Web to get dates, organize politically and network professionally, why not use it to meet their neighbors? Jared Nissim has created MeetTheNeighbors.org, a registry for neighbors and neigborhoods to enter and organize real-life get-togethers. Right now, most of the users are young people in apartments in New York City (who are naturally inclined to seek out new friends and "hook up"), but the site is open to anyone, anywhere.

Even more so than apartment complexes, a system such as this would be invaluable for suburban communities that make it way too easy for households to avoid each other, intentionally or not. Suburban developments with no central hub discourage walking and other features that foster interaction. This phenomenon was thoroughly documented in Robert Putnam's book Bowling Alone... who, by the way, has taken his own stab at using the Internet to foster real-life community building, BetterTogether.org

Source: Smart Mobs