Say hello to GroupsNearYou.com
The Short Geeky Explanation
GroupsNearYou.com is an entirely user generated API-queryable database of the location and nature of local online communities, irrespective of the platform they are hosted on. A piece of the programmable web, in short, with local community building focus. Check this lovely example of how easily the syndicated community information can be layered onto a map, for example.
The Business Problem it Solves
Do you run a site that tells people stuff about their local area? Do you suspect that there might be quite a lot of internet enabled community activity going on in local areas that you’d like to tell your users about? Use our feeds.
The Social Problem It Solves:
There’s a proven real world social value to people belonging to very local email lists and other forms of local online community. However there is no eBay or Craiglist or other market dominant player in the local online community world, instead there’s a myriad of google groups, yahoo groups, Facebook & other YASN groups, extremely old school CCed email lists, online forums and so on. As a consequence of not having one big simple place to go to find and join local groups (many of which are not even on the web for Google to find) far fewer people ever find out about and join their local online groups. GroupsNearYou.com is about getting more people to join groups, groups that are not hosted by us, and (hopefully) mainly discovering them via uses of our syndicated info on sites that aren’t run by us. It’s a piece of pure internet infrastructure, with a positive social bent.
Who did it?
Astonishingly, the project was almost entirely built by a volunteer, Richard Pope assisted in design by another brilliant volunteer Denise Wilton. Their only reward is a highly sought after mySociety Hoodie, plus the love and gratitude of all our users.
Richard has been an amazingly dedicated volunteer for mySociety and on his own projects for over two years, and deserves the reputation he is rapidly gaining as one of the world’s truly great civic minded web innovators. The project was funded by the UK’s Government’s Ministry of Justice who have been trying to run experiments of different kinds in the realm of electronic democracy. Their money will go to help improve and grow the site, rather than building it, which is a very interesting funding model in its own right. The several hundred groups already in the system are mainly added by users of WriteToThem.com
Almost all the groups listed in the database are in the UK at the moment, and they’re all from users of our other sites. We’re interested in working with anyone who runs sites that might want to either take information out of it, or put information into it (Hello email list/social network providers!)
Anyway, it’s dead simple really, just a little brick in the internet wall, albeit one that I hope will help a few more people meet their neighbours and improve their communities.