The Future Of Neighborhood Communication | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

WAMU 88.5 : The Kojo Nnamdi Show

The Future Of Neighborhood Communication

Facebook and Twitter have transformed the way people communicate with family, friends and long-lost classmates. But electronic mailing lists like LISTSERV and Yahoo! Groups remain the tool of choice at the neighborhood level. It's how many people share advice about local services, sell stuff and debate community issues. Tech Tuesday explores the history and enduring power of email groups, and examines the future of neighborhood communications.

Insights into your Social Graph

A growing body of academic research explores how people and online communities are adapting-- or failing to adapt-- to new technology and social platforms:

  • Dunbar’s Number: Robin Dunbar, a professor of Evolutionary Anthropology at Oxford University, argues that there is a finite number of stable social relationships that the human brain can maintain. It is generally thought that the number is between 100 and 230 relationships.
  • Context Collapse: When a person is interacting face to face, they can adjust their tone and presentation to fit into their social environment. When someone posts to their Facebook or Twitter accounts, the social environment is more complex: Is it appropriate to post pictures of your kids that can be seen by casual work acquaintances? In the context of expanding social networks, the value and context of our different networks may be diminishing.
  • Lurker: People online who read discussions (on email lists, message boards, social networking) but rarely or never actively participate. Lurkers make up the vast majority of online groups.

Interesting Local-Focused Companies and Communities

  • NextDoor: A neighborhood social network that allows neighbors to talk online. It can be used to exchange advice about things such as babysitters and home repair companies. NextDoor can also be used to quickly communicate with your neighbors if, for example, there is a break in or a lost dog.
  • Common Place: A community social network that makes it easier to communicate among neighbors. It can be used to organize community events, exchange advice, and spread news. Common Place does not exist in all neighborhoods, but you can nominate your community to join the social network.
  • Path: A social network that is similar to facebook because it allows you to share updates about your life, including photos and videos. However, Path limits each member to 150 friends so that your communication is more personal and less public. Path’s 150 friend limit is based on Dunbar’s Number.
  • Family Leaf: A social network site that allows you to privately share updates and photos with your family.
  • Patients Like Me: A social networking site that allows patients to share their health experiences with other people who share their condition.
  • OhSoWe: A website that allows neighbors to share resources (items and skills) in order to save money and be green.
  • NeighborGoods and Favor Tree: NeighborGoods is a website that allows people to share items such as ladders and books. In August, Neighborgoods will be closing and turning into FavorTree, which will also act as a resource sharing site.
  • ProBoards
  • Schoology
  • Edmodo

Facts About Listservs

  1. Engineering student Eric Thomas invented LISTSERV, a software program to manage and automate email discussion groups, in 1986 in Paris.

  2. LISTSERV is a registered trademark, owned by Thomas' software company. Find guidelines for proper usage of the term here.

  3. As of July 31, 2012, there were 541,232 total LISTSERV lists.

  4. One of the most popular early email lists was LINKFAIL, where users could report Internet outages. LINKFAIL grew so big that its own traffic began to generate network failures.

NPR

This Weekend, Experience The Enduring Power Of 'The Millstone'

Margaret Drabble's The Millstone, set in the 1960s, tells the story of a young, unmarried woman who finds herself pregnant. Author Tessa Hadley says this 50-year-old novel is a weekend must-read.
NPR

Italian Cheese Lovers Find Their Bovine Match Through Adopt A Cow

The cheeses of the Italian Alps are prized for their flavor. But the tradition of cheese-making here is dying off. Now remaining farmers are banding together around an unusual adoption program.
WAMU 88.5

Hogan's Pick For Transportation Secretary To Get Second Day Of Scrutiny

Lawmakers in Maryland's executive nominations committee didn't get in all the questions they had for Pete Rahn during his confirmation hearing last week, so they will take another pass Monday.

NPR

A Neuroscientist Weighs In: Why Do We Disagree On The Color Of The Dress?

Robert Siegel speaks with Dr. Bevil Conway, a neuroscientist at Wellesley College, about the dress that has the whole Internet asking: What color is it?

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.