So far, it’s been following a fairly predictable and familiar pattern. One person heard about the new site and asked others about it. In this case, the person received a postcard and asked about it in a Facebook group.
The new site is Nextdoor. The about page describes them as
the private social network for you, your neighbors and your community. It's the easiest way for you and your neighbors to talk online and make all of your lives better in the real world. And it's free.
Information was posted about it in a Facebook group focused on my local community. The responses were fairly predictable. One person wrote:
I've heard of it. A new start up. It's pretty much what this group already does. I for one don't need another social site to login to.
My response was to do research on the site and sign up. I later commented about this in the Facebook group. I referred to the Technology adoption lifecycle. I am an innovator/early adopter. I am the sort of person that, when I hear of something new, wants to go out and try it. According to the model, innovators/early adopters make up about 2.5% of the population.
With a population of around 9,000, this would put the number of innovator/early adopters in Woodbridge at about 225. It is worth noting that there are currently 230 members of the Woodbridge – Bethany Residents Forum. It would seem as if the forum still hasn’t crossed the chasm. Trying to attract people from this forum is likely to be challenging. So far, Nextdoor Woodbridge only has 25 members, and only seven have posted photos of themselves. It probably needs to at least double to reach critical mass.
When a new site comes along, those who are not innovators/early adopters start piling on about why it is going to fail. Given the success rates of startups, they are usually right, but when they are wrong, they are often spectacularly wrong. So, on Facebook, people are talking about why Nextdoor is going to fail. The argument typically ends up around what they already have is working fine and why would people want anything new. The standard story that fits in here is of companies missing the opportunity to get into the dry copying business because they didn’t understand the concept, or thought the market wouldn’t be big enough.
When a potential disruption comes along, some people don’t see the use cases for it, and figure it will not make it. Others go in and try to find unexpected use cases. It takes me back to the great old quote from George Bernard Shaw, “Some men see things as they are and say why - I dream things that never were and say why not.”
Back at the Facebook forum, “For those that have joined what is it that you can do there that you can't in this FB forum?” My response is, “not much”. For that matter, there’s not much on the Facebook forum that couldn’t be done at Woodbridge Gathering either.
Yet there are a few different things in Nextdoor that I find interesting. To get back to how the person mentioning it found out, Nextdoor gives uses the ability for users to send postcards to neighbors inviting them to join. This is something that has been used in political campaigns in the past, and has the potential to reach a different audience than Facebook.
This gets to a second thing that Nextdoor does that I find interesting. It has given me the ability to connect to a bunch of people that I don’t know in Woodbridge. Some people may feel that they know enough people in town. I always like to meet new people. Perhaps that too, is part of the innovator/early adopter mindset.
The site also provides a map, so you can contact people by their location. Again, this reminds me of some of the geomapping aspects of campaign sites.
Of course, this raises an issue. Members don’t want to be spammed. They way to know that the other members of their group are in fact from Woodbridge, or whatever neighborhood. Nextdoor provides verification functionality.
Will this be enough to gain critical mass, to make Nextdoor a success? It was listed in 43 of the best Android apps launched in 2013 by Next Web and it has already received $82 million in two funding rounds.
The questions remain, whether or not it will cross the chasm from the innovators and early adopters to the skeptical early majority, and whether or not it will become profitable. Or, will they have an exit strategy, like so many other startups, which includes cashing in before profitability.
It’s probably too early to say, but as an innovator/early adopter, I’ll play with Nextdoor as long as it keeps my interest.
Recently, a friend of mine posted on Facebook,
I'm confused... Is this going to make teenagers buy old spice? This is the strangest commercial I've ever seen....
I remember going to a digital advertising conference a few years ago in New York where one of the discussions was about Old Spice's success online.
Remembering some of the points from that, I added this comment to my friend's status update:
I think it is brilliant. One of the keys to Old Spice's advertising success has always been knowing its market. While other deodorant makers would have ads with sexy women trying to boost sales, Old Spice came to realize that it is women who buy the deodorant, not the men. (As an aside, Kim buys my deodorant. I didn't know what brand she buys, without walking into the bathroom and checking. It is Old Spice.
No, I don't think teens, or pre-teens will buy Old Spice because of that commercial, but I can think of a lot of moms, proud and frightened, and struggling with their little babies growing up and starting to need deodorant that will see that ad and it will resonate deep down in their core.
When they go shopping and pick up deodorant for their sons, they will think of that ad, perhaps smile, a bit wistfully, and pick up Old Spice for their baby boys who are now becoming men.
Know your audience, it may not always be what you think.
It is a dark Monday morning. The sound of the rain has ebbed but the weather says it is fifty and foggy. It is hard to get out of bed and face the day and the coming week. I glance on Facebook and it is the same old statuses. It is about the same on the news sites.
I put on the same old hot water for coffee and prepare my oatmeal and wonder what to write about today. I’ve been stumbling across automatic writing more and more often these days and am kicking around ideas there. Yet there is one important thing to write about.
Today is Epiphany. I remember hearing the word when I was young and it not meaning a lot. It was just another liturgical season; Epiphany, Pentecost. Then I read a poem Denise Levertov which used the word epiphany. If I recall properly, it was Reading Chekhov on Weston Heath, about her childhood in London during World War II. She spoke of childhood epiphanies.
Where do great ideas come from? What is the starting point of inspiration and creativity? Perhaps some of it comes from just making oneself ready and sitting and waiting. Perhaps some of it comes from dreams and from letting our thoughts flow in automatic writing.
So, on this day of Epiphany, I hope all of you will find a chance to be still and wait for your epiphanies.
The scene outside the living room window looks like a pen and ink wash. The stark black strokes of tree trunks towering above the white of newly fallen snow has mellowed with the freezing rain, bringing out shades of grey, on the trees, in the snow, the sky and the house in the distance.
Today, I stopped at the nursing home as part of our church’s ministry. The signs warned of a gastrointestinal illness at the facility and urged visitors to consider rescheduling their visit. Many of my friends have been posting about stomach bugs online and I hesitated for a moment. Yet I suspected that the residents may have had less visitors than usual and my visit might be all the more important.
The greyness and illness have dampened my enthusiasm for research and writing this weekend. I was thinking about installing Neo4J and playing with that a little bit, but that is more than I’m up for right now. I had been thinking of writing more about some of my recent dreams, which have been intricate and complicated.
Then there are the books I received for Christmas. They’ve been giving me ideas for various writing projects that I haven’t been able to launch into.
Meanwhile, Fiona is listening to ‘Castle’, which she does a lot. As one episode ended and the wrapped up all the pieces, it struck me, an episode of Castle that might be particularly interesting would be of an impoverished ex-student who kills a pawn broker.
I’ve been looking at app development recently and speaking with different people about the tools they use. One of them mentioned MongoDB. MongoDB is a document oriented NoSQL database. I loaded it on one of my servers and played with it a little. I was impressed with the simplicity of getting started with it.
Yet as we move away from tabular storage of data, it poses the question, how should we think about organizing information?
There is the great line from The Cluetrain Manifesto, Hyperlinks subvert hierarchy. There is a lot in that statement. To what extent are hyperlinks subverting authoritarian structures based on hierarchy? How is this playing out in media, education, and politics? And, how is it playing out in organizing information?
As I dig a little deeper into NoSQL databases, I’m finding myself more interested in triple store or graph oriented databases. Instead of having a limited, predefined set of relationships like, parent child in a traditional relational database, what can we do when we start storing many different types of relationships in databases? What can we do when we start graphing out this information?
So, on my radar for future explorations are Neo4j and Sparql. From there, I may wander back into topics like RDF, the Semantic Web, and of course once information becomes more machine readable, back to the singularity.
Are you playing with MongoDB? Neo4J? Sparql? RDF? The Semantic Web? What things do you think I should be looking into? Are there good starting points and tutorials?