Ned Ludd and his 19th century band of "luddites" waged war against the fragmenting force of industrialization. Today's technology haters repeat the familiar refrain. Until recently, their claim was not without merit. Then along came social networking, connecting friends-of-friends, distant relatives and even perfect strangers.
localbloxSo, what's the next big thing? The web's final frontier just might be your own back yard. Enter LocalBlox.com - a burgeoning new site designed to connect you with the people in your neighborhood - those folks you pass every day on your way to the local park or café.
LocalBlox is the brainchild of Sabira Arefin, who envisioned a virtual space where neighbors could connect and share information about their own, real-world communities. "I thought it would be nice to have a Facebook for neighbors," says Arefin, "You can share information on the latest happenings, or just ping them and say hello. Who has the time to knock on doors these days?"
LocalBlox seeks to build a bridge between individuals and their communities with listings for local events, news feeds, a photo album open to all and a community wall for informal discussion and recommendations. The Localblox ambassador program invites residents who are passionate about their neighborhood to become volunteers and guide their neighbors in their search to connect. In the very near future, LocalBlox intends to hire neighborhood managers in over 40,000 communities across the United States.
Engaging the interest and commitment of both residents and local merchants is a fundamental part of Arefin's vision. In an effort to help local businesses and expand this first ever hybrid of the virtual-natural community, LocalBlox is offering free advertising to small businesses for a limited time. "LocalBlox was founded on the premise that physical communities are the most natural and organic," says Arefin. "What is a more natural way to interact than shopping in your own neighborhood? Bringing the focus back to the community will help bolster local economies and renew a sense of belonging."
Oxford Anthropologist Robin Dunbar's famous study regarding relationships and ideal community size suggests that there is a limit to the number of people with whom we can forge a meaningful bond. What has become known as "Dunbar's number" (roughly 150 personal connections) has been explained by evolutionary psychologists as a product of our long history as a species - some 40 million years - spent wandering the landscape in small, hunter-gatherer tribes. Facebook friends numbering in the 250+ range and 10,000 years of civilization notwithstanding, our biological roots crave real world intimacy and interconnectedness with those who share our physical space.
And what about the modern luddites - that remaining fraction of a percent of the industrialized world who refuse to cross the digital divide as a matter of conscience? Will they ever acknowledge that the technological arc beginning with the industrial revolution has come full circle, from dehumanizing monster to community builder?
LocalBlox.com is a Local Business Networking platform that connects neighbors. Our goal is to help individuals connect to their local communities and build a bridge between neighbors and their local communities.
Who knows? And who cares! They'll never read this.