WBEZ | Blockboard http://www.wbez.org/tags/blockboard Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Know thy neighbor http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-02/know-thy-neighbor-105738 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/A_swnqqCcAEeJRo.jpg-large.jpg" title="Social media gets hyperlocal with apps like Block Avenue. (Block Ave Chi)" /></p><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><p>My father has no interest in Facebook, rarely uses LinkedIn and is completely befudddled by the concept of Twitter. So when he called me the other day to rave about a neighborhood mobile app called&nbsp;<a href="http://blockboard.org" target="_blank">Blockboard</a>, I was a) honestly surprised that he even knew what an app was, and b) immediately intrigued by the concept.&nbsp;</p><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Blockboard began in San Francisco as a way to connect neighbors on a uniquely personal level, effectively bridging the gap between the hundreds of &quot;friends&quot; that we have on Facebook and the untapped support systems that exist right in our own communities.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Prior to 2011, the startup was called BlockChalk and consisted of mostly <a href="http://techcrunch.com/2010/01/08/blockchalk-location/" target="_blank">neighborhood alerts</a>, similar to&nbsp;a mobile Craigslist. Now under the umbrella of Klout, which made its <a href="http://techcrunch.com/2012/02/07/klout-acquires-local-and-mobile-neighborhood-app-blockboard/" target="_blank">first-ever acquisition</a>&nbsp;by&nbsp;purchasing Blockboard this time last year, the system is rumored to become much more streamlined and social media-friendly in 2013.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">When you download the free iPhone app, Blockboard will recognize your location via GPS and suggest neighborhoods for you to follow. Once you&#39;re plugged in, you can <a href="http://www.7x7.com/tech-gadgets/mobile-craigslist-gets-hyperlocal-blockboard" target="_blank">interact directly with your neighbors</a> or contact your city government about hyperlocal issues such as graffiti, trash, potholes, vandalism, etc.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><blockquote><div class="image-insert-image ">&quot;Neighborhoods are more emotional than physical in many ways,&quot; says co-founder Stephen Hood, &quot;So although Blockboard will suggest which neighborhood we think is yours, it&#39;s up to you to choose.&quot;</div></blockquote><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Blockboard hasn&#39;t reached Chicago yet, but another buzzworthy neighborhood app called <a href="http://www.blockavenue.com" target="_blank">BlockAvenue</a>&nbsp;is already making the rounds. What began as community startup in Cambridge has since spread nationwide, allowing locals to connect, share ideas and discover communities block by block. The <a href="https://twitter.com/BlockAve_Chi" target="_blank">@BlockAve_Chi</a> Twitter account has accumulated over 1,300 followers in just a few weeks time, and their trending numbers are growing exponentially by the day.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Some neighborhoods are taking the idea of hyperlocal connections one step further, creating mobile apps that specifically represent their individual communities. For example, the DUMBO region of Brooklyn (an acronym that stands for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass) is now <a href="http://tendigi.com/blog/post.php?s=2013-02-14-dumbo-first-neighborhood-in-nyc-with-its-own-app" target="_blank">the first neighborhood in New York City with its own app</a>. As a devout Logan Squarian, I hope that my neighborhood will soon follow suit.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Growing up in a wealthy area of North Dallas, I existed in a bizarrely insular microcosm where neighbors exchanged subtle glances across perfectly manicured lawns, but never spoke a word of greeting to each other. I lived next door to the same people for 18 years, never knowing a single thing about them. This culture of seperateness was considered normal, and to be honest, I never gave it a second thought.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">My life in Chicago couldn&#39;t be more different, and I&#39;m grateful for it. Now that I live in a tiny three-floor walkup and know all of the tenants in my building by name, I find the whole idea of <a href="http://losangeles.cbslocal.com/2011/07/27/love-thy-neighbor-most-americans-dont-know-next-door-names/" target="_blank">mystery neighbors</a> to be strange, slightly scary and even sad. I feel my heart sink a little whenever I see the same people riding the train day in and day out, heads buried in their e-books, refusing to look up or even acknowledge one another. When did avoiding eye contact with strangers turn into a total aversion of community and denial of basic human interaction?</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Neighborhood apps provide an invaluable public service: bringing people together through social media, as opposed to driving them <a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1349778/Facebook-Twitter-make-human-isolate-real-world.html" target="_blank">even further apart</a>. Will community-based startups like Blockboard and BlockAvenue soon eclipse Facebook and Twitter as our go-to sources for hyperlocal news? With the loss of&nbsp;<a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2013-02-07/news/chi-hyperlocal-news-site-everyblock-shuts-down-site-20130207_1_journatic-adrian-holovaty-hyper-local-news" target="_blank">EveryBlock</a>&nbsp;still fresh in my mind,&nbsp;I certainly hope they&#39;ll be here to stay.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><em>Since Twitter is still a thing (for now), you can follow me&nbsp;<a href="http://twitter.com/leahkpickett" target="_blank">@leahkpickett</a>.&nbsp;</em></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div></p> Tue, 26 Feb 2013 08:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-02/know-thy-neighbor-105738