Where 2.0

The Where 2.0 conference is underway in San Jose. All the big local players are gathered together to share the latest and greatest in location-based technology.

Here’s a quick excerpt from their overview page describing what Where 2.0 is:

Now in its third year, the Where 2.0 Conference is where the grassroots and leading edge developers building location aware technology intersect with the businesses and entrepreneurs seeking out location apps, platforms, and hardware to gain a competitive edge. In the O’Reilly conference tradition, Where 2.0 presents leading trends rather than chasing them.

Visit the blog here, or if you prefer, live Twittering.

It’s also nice to see Garmin participating. Not a lot of big tech firms out of the midwest, but Garmin’s corp headquarters is about 5 blocks from my parent’s house in the suburbs of Kansas City.

eNeighbors Preferences

You can now opt-out of receiving Community Feedback or Architectural Change Requests from your eNeighbors Profile. This update only applies to board members. To change your preferences, sign in, click on the Edit button above your profile, click Email Subscriptions, and select the appropriate radio buttons to opt-in or out of receiving Community Feedback or Architectural Change Requests.

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Fatdoor Goes Alpha

fatdoor has launched in alpha mode (SF Bay area only for now).

In a very high-level sense, fatdoor is a new social network focused on localness and aims to have direct ties to the physical community in addition to the online nature of the network.

Per Greg Sterling’s blog, Raj Abhyanker of fatdoor indicates that their goal is to connect neighbors to each other specifically around things like local community, schools and families.

I applaud fatdoor in their efforts. Here at eNeighbors, we are attempting something similar — eNeighbors’ focus is connecting neighbors in their community and offering new ways to more effectively communicate with each other.

The move of social networks to the local level is a great thing to see. Relevance of information and community is starting to grow, and for adults who have little time on their hands to spend online, services like fatdoor will provide a great way to keep in touch with their community.

The power of positive feedback

Because positive feedback is rare, it’s powerful when it happens. Complaints or negative feedback almost always outnumber positive feedback. There’s no doubt that the “squeaky wheel gets the grease”, at least in the US. It’s almost cultural for us to analyze and evaluate every experience and product and give feedback.¬†Complaining is what we do to get better service.

Positive feedback is unnatural. You have to be really satisified to make the effort to tell someone how happy you are. So when I get a little positive feedback, it means a lot to me.

The following feedback was submitted to the Nottingham by the Green board of directors in regards to classified ad posted through eNeighbors:

“Thank you so much for providing this great service. I have already posted an ad and received feedback. This is a great tool for everyone concerned. Thanks again.”

-Paul and Debbie L. of Nottingham by the Green

Happy Birthday Phil!

Phil is part of the founding team at eNeighbors. He has dedicated every spare moment of his time passionately pursuing the eNeighbors vision.

I have known Phil for the better part of 9 years and during that time I have worked for him and with him on a number of projects, from Sprint, to our web development company, and now eNeighbors.

What impresses me most about Phil his is intellect, work ethic, and incredible ability to communicate complex concepts to anyone. Most people see Phil’s talent in the design work that he does…you can quickly assess his capabilities as a designer simply by looking at his work. But once you get to know Phil as I have, you learn that his talent goes far beyond what you see on the screen.

Phil’s contribution to eNeighbors is immeasurable, and I am grateful for having him along for the amazing ride of entrepreneurship with all it’s ups and downs. There’s nothing like sharing in the struggle of pursuing a common dream.

Take a night off and have a happy birthday Phil. (No conference calls tonight!)

The Neighborhood Challenge

Being part of a neighborhood board of directors is a tough job. It’s usually voluntary, so getting that extra effort not only from yourself but from the other board members is a challenge especially since the rewards are only intrinsic in nature.

Anyone that’s ever worked as a project manager knows how difficult it can be to manage a group of people who don’t always see eye to eye on every issue. Additionally, there are a number of community needs that constantly must be met.

I just finished putting together a great outline of these challenges and the corresponding solutions that eNeighbors offers to help conquer these challenges. My hope is that this document will help clarify how valuable the eNeighbors service is to neighborhoods and more specifically managed communities.

Here is the list of challenges addressed in the PDF:

– Communication
– Time Management
– Sense of Community
– Safety Concerns
– Architectural Compliance
– HOA Documentation
– Board Member Turnover
– Privacy of Information
– Community Value

View and download the PDF here

Neighborhood Search from Google

Last Friday, Google posted on its Lat Long Blog that Google Maps now has neighborhood search capability. To any but the most savvy users, this could be very misleading. Here’s the part that intrigues me:

Recently Google Maps introduced the ability to perform searches by neighborhoods. Neighborhoods tend to be somewhat informally defined but well recognized in certain cities. Neighborhood search is now available in fifty US cities, with more to follow.

The part about “informally defined” seems to be loophole to me. And then there’s the caveat of “only available in 50 US cities” which is the misleading part (since the title of the blog post doesn’t specificy “which” neighborhoods).

All this aside, I played along to see what the results would look like in Kansas City. Granted, KC is not the biggest metro in the country, but it’s respectable. My first search for art galleries on the Plaza gave me only one gallery that was actually on the Plaza (I know of at least 10 more). The other two results were in Kansas as far south as Leawood since Google didn’t know the difference between the Plaza and Hawthorne Plaza out south.

Second, I thought I’d try it on an actual neighborhood. I picked Mission Hills since it’s probably the premiere neighborhood in KC with the likes of Henry Block, George Brett, The Halls family, and The Russell Stover’s mansion being just a few of the well known residents. Looking for coffee around the Mission Hills neighborhood was a little better but not much. Only one of the results would I actually classify as being in Mission Hills.

My point in all this is that true neighborhood search still does not exist. It’s not even close. Google is still simply matching keywords to business listings. An actual framework of neighborhoods just doesn’t exist. Yelp comes close, and Urban Mapping has made some headway, but there still isn’t a true neighborhood level index to search from or serve content to.

Bottom line, it takes a lot of good old fashioned hard work, unique local knowledge, and lot of time to build such a network; and it’s just not economically viable for the large search companies to go down that road.

Social Networks & Advertising

Some good info on ad placement in social networks over on eMarketer today. MySpace and YouTube top the list (not surprising). Driving traffic and brand awareness are the top reasons for the placements. One of the questions posed is how do people use search when they are interacting within these social networks?

Interesting to see Craigslist in the #5 spot for the most ad spend. Good sign that local ad spending and hyper-local audiences are being considered across the board.

Local Social: The Insider View

Perry Evans posts on the launch of Local Guides today on his blog, evans ink. At first, it seems to be another rehash of local content, but what I think sets it apart is the “guides” aspect. Here’s a way for you (as a local in your community) to provide direction for other people in regards to the “it” places to eat, shop, hang out, etc.

For instance, I’m a huge music junkie. There are a lot of great local bands in Kansas City (where I live) that no one knows about. Here’s an opportunity to provide an insider’s view on the local music scene to someone like myself but who is from another city and is just visiting KC and wants to catch some great local shows.

I also like how the site gears itself towards an experience by using guides. In other words, sight-seeing the Plaza as opposed to just finding a restaurant for lunch.

The other great aspect is the centrality of the service. Everyone in KC knows that The Pitch is the best guide for local music, but people from Boston might not know that. I’m usually not a proponent of nationally-centric sites for local services, but it seems to make sense here due to the content that is being shared and the intent for the information.