02 April 2007


HyperLocal is Local redefined for our Internet-based age.

HyperLocal is perhaps more complicated to define than it is to experience. In fact, you're experiencing a moment of HyperLocalism right now.

I've written these words in my hamlet of Ashland, Oregon, and there you are reading my words in Singapore. You didn't have to buy the book; you just landed on my blog and read away. But that's not necessarily what makes a blog HyperLocal; it's the ability to comment. When once you had to snail mail a letter to an author, or even try to contact them via phone, you can now provide the author with feedback immediately via the comments feature.

So, what is HyperLocal? Think of it as “local” redefined.

Dictionaries always use the word “proximity” to define “locality.” Over the last half of the 20th Century, we noted a major shift in locality, as many places we now consider “local” once required significant travel time to reach.

Think of people living in large cities. At one time, those cities were actually lots of different towns and people referred to working out of town. Nowadays, people don’t tend to make the same reference. Now, they refer to how long it takes them to drive to work. It hearkens more to the idea of accessibility than proximity.

Back to the idea of “HyperLocal”; this term, as thus defined, refers to the way that the Internet has created a new form of locality. In the click of a mouse, we can now access those living on the other side of the planet.

The technical word for a web site address is “URL,” Universal Resource Locator. That URL helps us access, and thereby focus our attention, on a particular aspect of this planet previously restricted by “proximity.” With HyperLocalism, proximity fades out and accessibility takes over.

Here are some examples of HyperLocalism:
  • Emailing friends/family—We are no longer subject to long distance charges, the hassle of having to write things out by hand, or having to decide which photos to send to which person.
  • Social Networking Sites—Sites like MySpace, Hi5, Second Life, and LocalsGuide have created a space in which communities can form regardless of their proximity from one another.
  • Information Databases—Sites featuring knowledge bases, no matter how "inaccessibly" the information is presented, allow us to access knowledge previously restricted by proximity to the center that houses it.
  • Webrings—Similar to Social Networking Sites, webrings act like a tie to join together like sites, creating communities that could not have otherwise existed without the simple technology used to create these communities.

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