Tag Archives: Joseph Stashko

The UK vs. USA – can StreetLife step up to EveryBlock?

EveryBlock.com is the answer to every American nosy neighbour/journalist’s prayers. It keeps them up-to-date with all the news and civic goings-on happening in their city, neighbourhood and block. It covers everything from building permits, restaurant inspections, local blogs, and photo-sharing to local business reviews. Launched in 2008 the site has grown rapidly – last month it brought in around 220,000 unique visitors.

Screen-grab of EveryBlock.com - what's the latest in Manhattan?

But what about all the nosy neighbours/journalists in Britain?

We have OpenlyLocal, JournalLocal and even FixMyStreet, which allow us to access valuable local governmental information or to moan about the rife potholes after the big freeze. But we’re losing out on the sociability of Everyblock.com, dubbed the social network for the neighbourhood. On this site users can update their status, “follow” specific locations and share posts on Facebook or Twitter.

But this might all be about to change now that StreetLife.com has hit our hoods… Like Everyblock, StreetLife is a social network based on local communities. Users can talk to individuals, groups and even local buinesses with the aim of sharing advice, skill sets and resources (Big Society eat your heart out). You have a news-feed, local chat function, private message facility, and incase it all gets to much, you have control of how much information you receive.

A screen-grab of the StreetLife Welcoming

But will it work?

I asked Paul Bradshaw if there was a UK answer to Everyblock, and he responded:

The same sentiment applies to StreetLife.com. The Freedom of Information Act in the UK is far more limited that the US, where there are no restrictions on who may access government information under the FOIA. The only requirement is that the requester must be a member of the public.

This is what social media journalist and hyperlocal blogger Joseph Stashko had to say:

Are we too saturated by social media as it is? Do we need another account to check and maintain? Or will the fact that, like EveryBlock, we can link up and share with Twitter and Facebook enhance our social networking experience?

In Joseph Tartakoff’s recent review of EveryBlock he said: ‘there’s lots of potential for abuse; a search for “conversations” in my neighbourhood brought up only two entries, which were both essentially advertisements’. StreetLife could rapidly become less about ‘community spirit’ and more about promotional plugging.

I looked up my local street on StreetLife and was pleasantly surprised to find lots of interesting posts. I know that Felix, just opposite, has had his bike stolen, where my local optician and pharmacist is, who’s having a loft conversion and who’s selling up. I’m excited by this, it’s nice to feel part of something local and as a journalist it’s  a great source for stories.  I’m not sure I’m ready to abandon StreetLife yet, it’s in it’s early days but it could grow into something interesting…



Little Gossip – when UGC turns ugly

When you have the advantage of the anonymity of the internet – you can be anyone you like. You could reinvent yourself to be someone totally different or perhaps bring out  a particular facet of your personality.

UGC contributor in disguise. Image: Karin Leperi

Some would argue the anonymity of forums or discussion pages allows for UGC contributors to freely give their honest opinions without fear of being judged. But equally, without having to take personal responsibility for comments, perhaps people will think less before they type. Joseph Stashko asked if we are the same people online as offline and suggested that he is an idealised version of himself online, by leaving out the mundane/ unattractive details of his life offline and just promoting his best bits.

One of the possible problems of anonymous posts is the opportunity it leaves for online bullying. One site that has got a lot of attention for this is Little Gossip. The site allows users to log on to a page about their institution and post gossip about people without assigning their name to it. Many schools have criticised the site and Mumsnet have asked for it to be taken down.

Mumsnet is critics of Little Gossip

In response to this criticism, the site said that it would not allow under 18s anymore. The homepage asks you if you are over 18, but that clearly isn’t enough to stop schoolchildren being involved and defying the ban, as reported in the Daily Mail. When you read the nasty comments on Little Gossip, it is easy to see why the site has attracted so much criticism. Whilst the premise of the internet is that it has total freedom, it is hard to argue what useful contribution this site was making, if at all.

So, it was no surprise that in the end Little Gossip closed the site down last week, with the following message….

Voice without ownership means that a person’s worst side can surface.
It is with considerable regret that we are closing the site down, despite taking extensive measures to prevent malicious and unwanted comments a minority of irresponsible people have continued to abuse the site, something that we can not support.

Thank you to all those who did enter into the site and contributed positively to our community. We have not been forced, it is solely our decision to shut down.

Until next time,
LittleGossip Team
contact (at) littlegossip.com