Monday, October 19, 2009

Dave Winer on the Difficulties of Blogging Hyperlocally

Dave Winer discloses the problems that have caused him to decide to shut down his 4-month-old hyperlocal project on Berkley (CA): is coming to an end .... I've also learned why sites that we're calling "hyperlocal" are difficult, and why I failed to get the site to grow the way I hoped it would.

I thought we could apply the same approach that worked in bootstrapping weblogs, RSS and podcasting for a local site. One or two people start writing about their personal experiences. A small audience develops. Debates, discussions follow. More perspectives. At every step you invite people to participate. You always ask for the people who used to be called the audience to become full participants. That's how the idea scales. As I said, it worked for blogging and related technologies.

Instead, what happened at is that the people thought we were running a news organization, and they did stories the way reporters do them. That can't possibly work, imho -- for the same reason the news industry is in crisis ....

I was sure that at some point I would be giving a talk and there would be a reporter in the crowd who would ask how news can reboot if it's dependent on scarfing copyrighted work from pros. Now if I get asked the question I can say I think it's possible, but we failed to prove it at And I'll be telling the truth.
I'm pleased to say that at Enclave, we're not focused on something as ambitious as "rebooting" the news. I'm more concerned about retrieving information that falls through the cracks or about challenging spun-news forced into the cracks.

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