As we all know by now, Time Magazine decided that we all were persons of the year for 2006. In a year marked by MySpace, YouTube, Flickr and other social networking websites, the users of the Internet were the ones creating the content, sharing it, judging it, and relying on it.
The first buzzword for 2007? Hyperlocal. As we all drown in the information swamp created by our global connectedness, websites, blogs, wikis and even good old fashioned newspapers that specialize in the most local of local news (zip code level) are where the action is.
Blogs to watch for this type of information include Placeblogger, outside.in, and Fresno Famous. Websites include Yelp; Wikia is actively building communities of community wikis, and newspapers, which are generally seen as artifacts of a bygone time, are flourishing at the neighborhood level (San Francisco seems to get a new one every month or so).
So what for philanthropy? Well, everything. The vast majority of philanthropy is local. Community matters. Place matters. Proximity matters. As these news sources grow, it will become both easier and harder for philanthropists to know what is going on. Easier, because every meeting of every quilting group, dog walking pair, knitting salon, and book club (let alone community groups, merchant associations, political activists) may well be documented. Harder, for the same reasons. How can philanthropy structure itself to separate signal from noise at this level? What role is there for philanthropy in making sure all community members have access to these communication channels if they become ubiquitous? How might philanthropy use these tools?