Chrysanthe Tenentes, Community Manager for FourSquare, made an astute observation near the beginning of a panel on Neighborhoods and Mobile Technology by saying, “Neighborhoods are imagined communities.” Having never created a physical neighborhood myself, I found this notion quite intriguing, especially in regards to how we create and join communities online.
As the panelists pointed out, neighborhoods used to be determined largely by zip code. Although mail delivery didn’t constitute real estate prices or the makeup of communities, it was an established taxonomy that made sense for people to identify where they wanted to live. Now with the onset of the Internet and multiple apps focused on hyperlocal services, physical neighborhoods have given sway to communities of the mind.
The Invisible Layer of Relevance
Ann Baldinucci, CoFounder and CEO of NabeWisehad a number of interesting comments during the panel. “There’s an invisible layer that sits above checkin’s and property listings. It’s the micro-culture that helps define the vibe or spirit of a community.” She gave an example where the trendy/pricey neighborhood of Nob Hill has come to be known as “Snob Hill” largely by social networking comments and has started to influence whether or not people want to live in that area.
Another panelist noted that because of Social Media people can determine what part of a neighborhood they want to say they live, even if their house is actually located in a different area. This happens a great deal in suburbs where a portion of the area is high-priced but another section is on the ‘wrong side of the tracks.’ Just like you can create your digital life, you can invent the story of where and how you live (at least until someone comes over for dinner). However, this collective self-identification also helps define the mindshare of a location and encourages others to move or not based on that aggregate feedback.
What do you think? How do you talk about where you live? And how did you decide to move to where you are now?
Go to NabeWise and poke around – use the community tools to get to know a few “Neighborhood Agent Specialists” and see how exploring a potential place to live is affected by being part of a community even before you start packing.