For as long as there have been J-schools, professors have been telling their students to refrain from projecting their personal experiences onto the world they're covering. At least I hope that's still going on. But judging from the responses to Jeff Jarvis' "Local lives" post, a lot of people seem to be forgetting how to do that.
Jeff's point: Local is very important, full of opportunity, and very hard to do.
The responses fall into two clear camps. One camp agrees hyperlocal is important. The other thinks local is dead and it's all about hyper-me. Me, me, me.
Here's the thing. For most people, there is no difference between hyperlocal and hyper-me, because most real people live very local lives.
I do not. Lately I'm acutely aware of how little I actually live where I live. I have a well-stamped passport, gold status on Skymiles, friends scattered around the planet. I dare not assume that other people are having the same 21st century virtual experience that I'm having with my wifi connections and my global-roaming text messages.
I get the point about hyper-me, I really do, but I also know that most people live locally. And for them, hyper-me and hyperlocal largely overlap.
Human beings need connections. We're hardwired that way. But modern life gets in the way. TV and the automobile sell us connections but deliver isolation. Stand at a street corner and count the cars with drivers talking on their cellphones. They're fighting back.
I'm looking at some proprietary research from one city where fully 38 percent of women who were interviewed reported that connecting was their biggest personal challenge.
Virtual connections through a social networking platform are better than no connections at all, but the real opportunity, I think, is in virtual connections that are combined with real connections. Physical-world connections. Hyperlocal space.