Local news is going the wrong way

Google’s new Local News offering misses the point entirely.

As Chris Tolles points out, Topix.net and others have been doing exactly this for years. Agregating information at the hyperlocal level isn’t just about geotagging information sources. Chris explains why they added forums:

“…there wasn’t enough coverage by the mainstream or the blogosphere…the real opportunity was to become a place for people to publish commentary and stories.”

He shouldn’t worry about Google, though. He should worry more about startups like Outside.in who upped the ante by adding a slightly more social and definitely more organic experience to the idea of aggregating local information.

Yet information aggregation still only dances around the real issue.

People want to know what and who are around them right now.

The first service that really nails how we identify and surface the things that matter to us when and where we want to know about them is going to break ground in a way we’ve never seen before on the Internet.

We’re getting closer and closer to being able to connect the 4 W’s: Who, What, Where and When. But those things aren’t yet connecting to expose value to people.

I think a lot of people are still too focused on how to aggregate and present data to people. They expect people to do the work of knowing what they’re looking for, diving into a web page to find it and then consuming what they’ve worked to find.

There’s a better way. When services start mixing and syndicating useful data from the 4 W vectors then we’ll start seeing information come to people instead.

And there’s no doubt that big money will flow with it.

Dave Winer intuitively noted, “Advertising will get more and more targeted until it disappears, because perfectly targeted advertising is just information. And that’s good!”

I like that vision, but there’s more to it.

When someone connects the way information surfaces for people and the transactions that become possible as a result, a big new world is going to emerge.

2 thoughts on “Local news is going the wrong way”

  1. Matt:

    Nice post… One thing that’s been interesting is that folks like Facebook and myspace haven’t really been able to connect the “who” with anything else, despite enormous success with linking people together.

    We’ve been pretty successful linking people by “where” and “what” getting them to participate into massive local and category based forums (nearing 100k post s a day).

    So, I’m not sure you need to solve the unified field theory to win here 🙂

    Also, outside.in is a great site, but they haven’t cracked the code to grow the thing (go check out, oh, say any town with less than 50,000 people in it). So, the ability to go broad and deep within local is something that I think you need to win here…

    Anyway, interesting discussion…

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