Local and Hyper-Local

Local is, of course relative. But as it pertains to the Internet, local can really only mean one thing – what’s close to me. OK, OK, “close to me” is also relative, but still, all things pertaining ‘local’ herein refer to local Internet search and resources. Boston.com could be considered in the ‘local space’ as could the other countless local newspapers. Craigslist could also be considered considered local. There are some fine lines that distinguish a local site, from a non local site, and I have to say that one of the most critical defining characteristics is the site’s audience. I think that’s probably the simplest way to put it.

The Kelsey Group is perhaps the foremost expert in ‘local’. In fact, Citysquares’ business plan and investor presentations are jam packed with goodie-stats from Kelsey. Ultimately, they’ve got their fingers directly on the aorta of all this local-ness.

A few days ago I had the pleasure of meeting Peter Krasilovsky. As it turns out, Peter and I share a few contacts. Peter is sort of a guru of the local space (Today I referred to Peter as the ‘Peter Gammons’ of local). We had a very interesting dialogue about the players out there, who’s hurting, who’s doing well, and generally his take on Citysquares.com. His feedback was immensely valuable, but what struck me more was his generosity to donate his time to me. He was in no rush to get off the phone (even though my VOIP phone was acting up), and offered up his brain power anytime. Peter has a blog called The Local Onliner. He’s respected enough that The Kelsey Group pulls his blog feed into their site. (If that’s not a thumbs-up, I don’t know what is.) He doesn’t write about local startups often, if at all, but he just posted a little piece about Citysquares.com.

What strikes me about his brief assessment is his use of the term “hyper-local.” I definitely used the term on our call, and surely he saw it on Citysquares.com, but he didn’t put quotes around it. Maybe I’m reading into this too much, but this is a fairly contentious term, because hyper-local typically refers to news – news in your neighborhood, your ward, your precinct. News from your precinct is pretty darn local. Any more local and you’re hanging out at Bingo night with the local grapevine. But hyper-local is a term that Citysquares has embraced, not because it’s sticky, but because it’s what we are. Citysquares.com can be the embodiment of your precinct, your neighborhood, on the internet. LOCAL. HYPER-LOCAL.

One of the pioneers of hyper-local is Rob Curley, whose seemingly accidental fall into hyper-local was a very lucky fall indeed. There was a great article about Rob in Fast Company last month. The title of the article? “Hyper-Local Hero.” Nice huh?

Now I don’t know if Rob’s version of hyper-local is more authentic than Citysquares’ version, or the other way around, or if we’re both hyper-local in our distinct ways. But if Peter Krasilovsky can use the term “hyper local” and “Citysquares.com” in the sentence (without saying “Citysquares.com is NOT hyper local”) than I just received confirmation. It’s sort of like Peter Gammons saying that David Ortiz is a DH – it’s just not true until The Commissioner says so.

Look at Craigslist. There is a reality out there, that CL is hurting local papers. I don’t know what the facts and figures are, but if you’ve paid attention to the local newspaper space, something is killing ’em – that’s undeniable. Rob Curley seems to have a fix.

Know of any other hyper-local services out there in cyber-space?