I’ve long held a belief that there are two types of online social service; those that offer genuine value over the long term, and those that are fashionable. That’s not to say you can’t have both in one, but over time we’ve seen a bunch of fashionable services such as Friendster, Digg and MySpace lose their appeal, while really valuable sites like LinkedIn continue to march ever onwards and upwards in terms of popularity and importance.
Right now we’re going to predict a newcomer to the value bloc, with the rise of Nextdoor.com, a social network which offers community communication for your locale. It’s the digital equivalent of the garden fence or local bar, where neighbors can chat, share information and generally busy themselves with local news and activities.
The key thing about this particular service is the over-riding level of security which means users are assured that only those genuine members of their neighborhood can access the site and the websites associated with your location. This is done via a clever realspace verification process, which checks your address via postcards, credit card addresses, landline phones or neighbor invitations.
It’s very useful and key to ensuring take up of the service by traditionally wary suburbanites. The whole thing is also password protected and users have to use a real name, no hiding behind an alias here. It’s hardly surprising that with all this security in place, the service has become popular for keeping neighborhoods safer through increased community vigilance. Interesting.
The service offers a number of nice features, including a classified advertising section, shared documents, Lost and found and connections with local neighborhood watch and police services. Of course there will always be a set of people for whom any connection is an invasion of their privacy, but for those who enjoy a more convivial relationship with those who live around their home, this is an ideal solution.
It won’t replace direct face to face of course, but it could actually lead to increased engagement at a time when the Internet is actually making us more isolated in many ways. It’s backed by some real heavyweight Web companies, investors and individuals, so we expect to see this eventually go mega if past experience is anything to go by.