I went to a very cool Tweetup at WBUR this week. (Lots of my Social Media heroes were there…like a kid at Christmas, I didn’t know where to turn first.) While there I got to be involved in a conversation about hyper-local news. While #journchat has hosted many a conversation about the future business model for the media, participants in this conversation seemed to have some real concrete and feasible ideas.
I tweeted about this meeting on February 5, 2009 and tagged it #WBUR if you want to check out the conversation, “meet” those involved and get a glimpse of the gang involved. Keith Hopper (@Khopper) was leading the conversation and at one point mentioned that Twitter is a great hyper-local news tool. He follows people sometimes just because they are local to him and he might have the chance to meet them someday. I’ve found myself doing the same thing. (“Oh, this person is in the next town. While I don’t usually follow oh, belly-dancing, I might be interested in lessons someday,” I think to myself.)
A lot of other social networking tools allow me the opportunity to connect with far-flung friends and family — I am 1 of 17 cousins on my mother’s side and we are scattered all over the place. Twitter (while still enabling a conversation with a Brazilian-based journalist and connections with book people in the UK), has actually helped me to do more connecting with local folks. The location function on the profile tell me if the Twitterer is down the street or around the world. The ability to search.twitter.com (advanced) allows me to set up a search based on proximity to a stated location. Another third party application (more thanks to Keith Hopper) actually shows me my Twitter “Star” status based on other Lexington, MA users — I’ve seen similar results with other apps too. (I’m always “chasing” someone else for the number 1 position but he’s been at it longer than me. Yes, I know, I’d be a bump in the road in a larger pond, like Boston.) There are also lots of other cool third party apps that allow you to track down more local tweeps.
But frankly, one of the most appealing things to me is my newfound ability to meet these people face-to-face. Yes, I’ve been on LinkedIn, Plaxo, Facebook and others for years but only Twitter has gotten me off the couch, out the door and out shaking hands with people I’ve only previously “met” on line. I’ve talked with them on the phone, met them for coffee, pizza and drinks. While I currently have an ulterior motive for being hyper-linked up to people, I feel Twitter has done more than any other application to truly link me face-to-face to real people.