Front Porch Forum

August 20, 2007 § 6 Comments


Media Shift (“Your guide to the digital media revolution, with host Mark Glaser”) recently asked readers to comment on What’s your favorite way of getting hyper-local news or neighborhood news? This quote from Jessamyn West seems relevant… in Library Journal she includes in her “information tool kit:” Ask Metafilter, “the library, Google, NPR, cereal boxes, people on the bus, and flyers stapled to telephone poles.”

Many people on Media Shift mentioned a site called Front Porch Forum. FPF is a community network of sorts that is (currently) only available to residents in and around Burlington, VT. The focus is granular — each forum gets down to the neighborhood level (over 100 neighborhoods so far). The site is wildly, if hyper-locally, popular — in one neighborhood FPF serves, 90% of the households subscribe. An interesting feature is that only residents of the neighborhood can participate in that neighborhood’s forum.

Can libraries do something like this in their communities? I think so! FPF is decidedly low-tech — it’s basically an e-mail forum. Libraries that have a local focus (like many libraries do) and the resources (like many libraries don’t, admittedly) might want to make setting up locally-focused online social networks of some flavor a priority. For some ideas, check out 34 More Ways to Build Your Own Social Network (via) or set up a neighborhood on a site like Outside.in.

If libraries don’t do it, FPF or someone else will. Michael Wood-Lewis is the founder and this guy is driving with his brights on, he’s smart. Plus, he was the first person to leave a comment on this here blog… (OK, so he can’t be that that smart if he hangs here). Check out his blog, Ghost of Midnight, for great discussions about issues related to local, hyper-local, neighborhoods, community.

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§ 6 Responses to Front Porch Forum

  • Thanks for the mention Charles. Front Porch Forum is going like gangbusters in our initial pilot area. Glad to see your blog is rolling too. Did I really leave the first comment here? I had no idea… 😉

    By the way, we have several small town librarians using Front Porch Forum to communicate with their constituents. As local public officials, we currently grant them free access to all the FPF neighborhood forums in their town. They post announcements about programs and new books, etc. I’ve also seen them respond to specific issues (e.g., “the library has a copy of that local government proposal that you can see before the election”). Good stuff. -Michael

  • […] Municipal libraries are a cornerstone of local America.  While they’ve been hit hard by budget cuts in many locales, they continue to play vital roles.  So I was pleased to see Front Porch Forum treated well today by Charles at Dewey and Main. […]

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