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Your Neighbors Nextdoor

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Yogi Berra was said to have quipped, “If you don’t go to somebody’s funeral, they won’t come to yours,” – a tongue-in-cheek aphorism that articulates the value of social networks.

Robert D. Putnam’s 2001 book Bowling Alone “chronicles the collapse of American community – how we have become increasingly disconnected from one another and how social structures—whether they be PTA, church, or political parties—have disintegrated.”

The Record Searchlight’s Shaping Our Future series notes that “just in the past three years, 130 neighborhood watch groups were established or re-started in Redding. Some of the new groups are the size of whole subdivisions.”

Neighborhood crime may be the impetus for the rise in neighborhood watch groups, but perhaps neighbors are also seeing the value in getting together just for social reasons and to watch out for one another rather than just watch for criminals. There are benefits of well-being for neighbors to meet face-to-face. That’s why we had a neighborhood Open House yesterday in our home.

Nextdoor

RS Editor Silas Lyons, who happens to live in our neighborhood, mentioned the use of the Nextdoor app to help bring neighbors together. Some in our neighborhood started using it last fall.

We decided to use Nextdoor as a springboard to facilitate interest and to use old-fashioned snail-mail to invite most of our other neighbors to our Open House. Then as we met face-to-face, we collected more personal information such as cell phone numbers and children’s names and ages to share privately in a printed directory available only to our neighbors that want to participate.

Nextdoor is a free, private, social network for residential neighborhoods. From the Nextdoor website, their mission is “to use the power of technology to build stronger and safer neighborhoods.” They boast “it’s the easiest way for you and your neighbors to talk online and make all of your lives better in the real world.” So far, people in over 47,000 neighborhoods throughout our nation are already using Nextdoor to post: urgent alerts; crime & safety issues; classified offerings; free items; lost and found; invitations to events and more.

As for their business model, according to Wikipedia, “Nextdoor also hopes to facilitate exchange of goods and services in a manner similar to Craigslist.” They received venture capital funding in the amount of $18.6 million in 2012. In order to participate, prospective users must register and provide their real name. Next-door believes that users will be more comfortable trusting other verified users than they would trusting sellers on Craigslist. Nextdoor, started in 2010, is based the company in San Francisco and now has 107 employees.

Social Media and Privacy

Nextdoor has a smartphone app too. In addition to name and address, participants can upload their photo and post a brief biography, listing interests, skills, family and what they love about their neighborhood. Privacy settings allow participants to limit visibility of that information to just their neighborhood; the app recognizes your location and can send push notifications. Participants can also send private messages to their neighbors.

But like other social media apps, some observers are wary that “you and your likes, interests and preferences” is “the product that they are selling to third parties” in order to monetize the app.

Furthermore, social media, once thought to facilitate interpersonal connections and personal well-being is now suspect for having  some “insidious negative effects.” An MIT study found that “face-to-face interactions and the trust people place in one another are strongly correlated with well-being in a positive way.” However, “social network sites are associated with lower social trust” and “the overall effect of networking on individual welfare is significantly negative.”

I am still a huge social media fan, particularly as it enhances my knowledge of what is important to my friends and neighbors so I can respond appropriately, but nothing beats getting together with food for fun.

One Response to Your Neighbors Nextdoor

  1. Rick Bonetti

    January 5, 2015 at

    Pew Research Center reports that “privacy issues continue to pervade public policy debates — after recent hacking incidents and amid the emergence of tech products that use consumer tracking data — 91% of Americans agree or strongly agree that consumers have lost control over how their personal information is collected and used by private companies.” http://pewrsr.ch/1wc6adR

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