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From local to hyperlocal

With the wide penetration of smartphones worldwide, better connectivity and the highly social nature or our online activities, the Web has shifted from being a tool to communicate and connect with communities and customers globally, to being a highly local tool to reach very specific communities and audiences.

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While in its early years the Web was seen as a way to connect people around the globe despite geographical and time barriers, the past few years have been all about going back to the local scale - whether for search, advertising, shopping... Of course, the boom of social networks and the wide adoption of mobile devices have anything but amplified the local frenzy - SoLoMo. The local ad revenue is growing very fast and a lot of new technologies like NFC, QR codes or geofencing allow for new applications and the development of innovative local strategies each day, especially thanks to smartphones. 

From Local to Hyper Local

Over the past year, a growing number of startups have also concentrated their efforts on building platforms or services for hyperlocal services markets as small as the neighborhood. A lot of actors hence aim at using social networks and apps to connect people to hyperlocal businesses and communities. Aside from allowing for extremely precise targeting, it also tends to boost local small businesses, and some actors even claim that SoLoMo can bring a new form of hyperlocal economy. Overall, the trend today is to favor a "glocal" approach by thinking global while keeping in mind local issues or specificities. 

Do New Technologies Makes Us More Local than Global?

By June 19, 2009
Do New Technologies Makes Us More Local than Global?

The internet flattens the world, they say. But researchers Jacob Goldenberg and Moshe Levy argue the inverse, that the internet makes us more local. The speed and facility of communication driven by technology gives the idea that it “has decreased the importance of geographic proximity in social interactions, transforming our world into a global village with a borderless society,” according to the researchers. “We argue for the opposite: while technology has undoubtedly increased the overall level of communication, this increase has been most pronounced for local social ties,” say the researchers.

Goldenberg and Levy use the theory of chain lengths, made famous by “six degrees of” films and games, which shows that large human networks are connected through small chains of indeterminate relations, to argue that IT has made geographical proximity even stronger.

Basing their findings on a study of 100,000 Facebook users and a study of the spread of baby names, which “tend to diffuse geographically,” the researchers argue that local communication is more important and more voluminous than before the internet revolution.

“We show that the volume of electronic communications is inversely proportional to geographic distance, following a Power Law,” the researchers say. The larger the geographical distance, the smaller the communication output.

It’s an interesting finding, but not necessarily groundbreaking. For many of us, most of our relationships are still formed in the offline world. While the internet makes it infinitely easier to communicate with people across vast distances, you have to know people across those distances first.

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