Over the last five years or so, there has been a lot of talk about how digital media has difficulty @going local”. Clever folks figured out how to scale up web platforms like Google, Facebook, et al to attract billions of visitors. But other clever folks have run into a wall as they tried to upgrade information flow about localities. This was called going “hyper local” and it has not worked very well so far.
So what is wrong? One way to figure this out is to deconstruct the dynamics involved. Scaling up means finding something that everyone gets excited a out. It is about creating a digital “destination location”. Think of this as building Disneylands of the web. The characteristics that these web Disneylands share are (1) they are simple – easy to understand (2) they are fun oriented – nothing too serious and (3) they are addictive – encouraging repeat visits.
So what characteristics make locality more attractive? Localities can be easy, fun and addictive, but that does not make them special. Locality is about differentiation. Being unique. What makes things unique? The answer is people. More precisely, people doing unique stuff. Stuff that is hard to replicate because it requires a local context. Van Applegate seems to get this in his promotional work for Charles Town West Virginia.
A starting point to doing this better is to learn how to use digital tools as a people enhancer – not a people substitute.