It’s a Beautiful Day in the Hyper-Local Web-Based Neighborhood

| 1/5/2009 4:04:47 PM

Brownstone Neighborhood in New YorkWhen driving directions aren’t enough, the website is a resource for in-depth information on just about every neighborhood in town. The website has begun compiling news, photos, and hard-to-find municipal information for 11 U.S. cities so far, including New York, Chicago, and San Francisco. Depending on the cities, visitors can find crime reports, graffiti cleanup requests, and even restaurant inspection information, to find out how many health-code violations the local burger joint has racked up. 

The website, started by former editor Adrian Holovaty, is more aggregation than news and has no editorial voice. Instead, it relies on algorithms to chose the photos and news stories. That lack of personality is the site’s greatest weakness, Rachel Somerstein writes for Next American City. There’s plenty of information on different areas, but the overall personality of the neighborhood doesn’t come through. The site, according to Somerstein, “is kind of like those flowers for sale at the corner deli—beautiful, perhaps, but when you put your nose to petals, there isn’t any smell.”

For improvements, Somerstein suggests looking to, a Chicago-based site with a similar concept that includes more user-suggested news. instead is looking more toward becoming a platform for civic activism, where people could petition government agencies using the site.

Image by David Paul Ohmer , licensed under Creative Commons.

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