Placeblogger, a 2007 recipient of $220k from the Knight News Challenge, has recently been revamped by its founders to encourage more personal interaction. Why? Location-based blogging without the context of a person is just kind of stale, says founder Lisa Williams, a longtime blogger of hometown Watertown, Massachusetts, and previously an analyst at The Yankee Group.
Williams, who partners on the site with Tish Gier, says the site has been getting more usage and frequency every month. But the new UI lets users categorize based on “I’ve been there,” “I’m here now!” or “I want to go there.”
“It aerates the site to let people express their paths through the world,” says Williams. The site needed it to stay true to its credo, which is basically “all the places and people near you.” “We’re not [smartphone-oriented sites like] Loopt, or Bright Kite, broadcasting specific locations,” she says. The idea is to use the Web — and placeblogging — to get to know people better.
“We’re highly personal. We’re into [things like] people’s cats,” adds Williams. However, she doesn’t see the site as a hyperlocal, block-by-block project (i.e., EveryBlock), nor does she plan to put RSS feeds on every news feed. “I’ve got an RSS feed on the wave height in Cape Ann,” she says, noting that’s a favorite kayaking location of hers. But “the scale is at the city level — 30,000 to 200,000. We’re influenced by the place blogs that have succeeded, like Baristanet” in Montclair, New Jersey.