Thursday, April 29, 2010

No-GoLocal - we give away the keys

Seeing the story here connected dots between the recent announcement that NLM is cutting the cord on support to GoLocal efforts. A quote:

People want to know what's going on locally. People want to shop locally. People want to network locally. And hyperlocal services make it easier to engage in and market to a local community. Technology need no longer be feared by local businesses as something that would drive their customers elsewhere - namely online.

Although location-based social networks such as Foursquare and Gowalla have received significant attention as part of this trend, they are far from the only services. Hyperlocal search and news sites are two other services that have seen recent growth.
Last week,, a website that enables shoppers to research products online but then make their purchases locally, added products and real-time inventories for over 100 independent, mom-and-pop stores across the country. While has served the "big box" stores for some time, this move to incorporate smaller retail outlets marks another way in which the local is starting to take advantage of online opportunities. 
 This makes my head hurt. Just as we (speaking generically of medical libraries) flip the switch on local efforts to support a growing number of healthcare consumers, commercial ventures find new blood by tracking to the 'hood.

I feel as if we've just ensured that we will continue to matter less at the precise time when we should be working to matter more to those who need support. Says NLM, usage is low -- and there were always problems, anyway:
However, while a few Go Local sites managed to maintain an atmosphere of success, there were always concerns expressed by staff at the sites and at NLM, regarding the amount of staff time required to maintain each site, low use at many sites, the inability of some sites to keep records current, shrinking library budgets that resulted in fewer resources to support and sustain sites, and NLM inability to increase funding levels due to a tight federal budget. 
I can only commend those health science libraries who plan to transform their years of effort to community resource pages -- but I wonder why we can do no more than shake our heads. Or are we? Maybe it's the money, and all people can do is keep treading water?  I don't know what the thinking is here, but I've seen nothing on the Medlib-L list, no announcements from anyone.  And I think we need a Bill Gates in our corner here. Just sayin. And if you'd like to think about this a little more, check out the first comment on the story:

I think this is a great article! I'd like to add that the foundation for the hyper-local is missing. There are two different things happening:
1) Companies like FourSquare, Gowalla, Google are all building a database of local listings to provide services. It's a global race to get the data organized. Whoever decides to share this data with everyone else will facilitate the creation of thousands of more companies/services.
2) Mapping companies, like Micello, are only focusing on providing maps for specific venues (extremely hyperlocal). If these maps are provided for others, we'll see a new wave of innovation.
Posted by: John Macon | April 26, 2010 6:50 PM