Last week I was browsing the Wikipedia, checking for changes to pages that I’ve contributed to in the past, and I noticed that the Hither Green page had been updated with links to a couple of local websites. I live in the area, so I jumped straight across, signed up for the discussion forum and used it to link to some of the local sites and events I am involved with.
At the moment the portal page is not bursting with information (although there’s a good foundation page there) and the forum is fairly quiet but it’s a good start. As somebody who spends a lot of time online (I joke that I take my email intravenously!) I’m really keen on the idea of local networks like this: a positive interface between the ease of establishing online communities (where time and distance are no longer obstacles to discussing shared interests) and the strengths of local community (interacting with people who are near enough to potentially lend a helping hand as well as an encouraging thought).
And then, yesterday, I discovered two more sites that stand in the same gap between virtual and local: LewishamOnline (a new project to collect websites all across the Borough) and the local section of the London Bloggers site which allows bloggers to position themselves on a transport map of the city.
I don’t know what this will lead to but I am excited. There may be risks from removing the apparent veil of anonymity granted by the Internet but I’m looking for the benefits: finding and meeting people with whom I have things in common who turn out to live just down the road.