Birmingham, B29

Thursday, 21 August 2008

Sharing B29 places ...

posted by pindec
I've been looking at B29 on a few location sharing sites (is there a better collective name for location-based social networking sites? I'm sure James knows...), most of which seem to suffer from being based in the US, clunky UIs and/or too few users.

One such site is streetadvisor.com, with just two whole Birmingham entries. It struggled to find my street - insisting that I live in Water Orton. I've never been to Water Orton, so I guess it might be nice, but I definitely don't live there. The map interface is relatively friendly, however, with the kind of slideable google map overlaid with widgets that's become the norm, so I eventually found my street which streetadvisor insisted is in Bournbrook. pfff.

Once you've located your street, the site invites you to rate it on a variety of scales including retail opportunities, provision of health services and schools and availability of gas. This feels like it might be a useful tool for people looking to move somewhere, but I can't really see what would motivate users to add their street .. or am I missing something? Would you want to showcase your street? Would the pre-defined categories help, or would you rather praise your street in your own words?

Mobile social networking is the latest start-up frenzy with a whole smorgasbord of sites popping up. Brightkite had a lot of industry buzz, and it's got a nice interface, and puts B29 roughly in the right place. The focus is on knowing where your pre-existing friends are, rather than on reviewing or discovering stuff. Again, it suffers from a lack of other users - at the time of writing, no-one else is within 4,000 metres of me :(.

With Rummble, the focus is on sharing info on physical locations and reviews with your pre-existing network, so in theory you get "trusted" local info. Over at Plazes, you get more of a microblog+location feel - it's more about discovering who's around and what they've tagged rather than local reviews. Plazes just got bought by Nokia, and they've got an API to enable developers to extract and reformat the info that people add, which implies the site will be funded for some time ... I'll award zkout the honorary gratuitously stupid 2.0-esque name award.

The common problem with these micro-local sites is that their usefulness won't become clear until they've achieved a critical mass of users - which is much more of a challenge on a small local scale than across a much more generic user group. Stiff competition also implies a lot of market churn - the likelihood is that different local groups will champion different micro-local sites, so it's difficult to see the business model working, at least in the short term while sites fight it out for market share.

Anyone found a good location sharing site? Or should we just stick to a huge mashup of individual google maps?

Here's the only one I've found so far for B29 - one that's quite juggling-specific ;)

If you've got a lovley B29-specific map, let me know and I'll add it in ...

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1 Comments:

  • At 3:10 am, August 22, 2008 , Anonymous StreetAdvisor said...

    Thanks for your review of StreetAdvisor. The site is reliant on maps from Google and other providers and we are aware of issues with naming and accuracy in the UK, but we can't fix these ourselves.

    We have recently added proximity awareness to the site so if you search for Brimingham (http://streetadvisor.co.uk/search/default.aspx?q=birmingham) you can see what has been reviewed nearby.

    We are keen to do much more in the UK, so please check back with us soon to see more new developments we have planned.

     

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