Threshold of nosiness
PBS.org media blogger Mark Glaser, who is based in San Francisco, writes in his MediaShift blog about a service called Front Porch which signs up residents in specific neighborhoods as “hyper-local” blogger/reporters.
You can only sign up for the neighborhood you live in, and then you start getting email newsletters with news tidbits, items for sale, business openings, and more — submitted by people in the neighborhood. They are closed lists that aren’t accessible to the public, and each posting includes the person’s name, mailing address and email address to verify who they are.
Hmm. Does this strike anyone else as being on the intrusive side?
The fact is, I am a bit of a nosy neighbor — about whatever is happening in front of my house. If I hear screaming, fighting or, as last night, a lost tractor-trailer driver looking for the SF Produce Market two miles away, I go outside to see what’s the matter. But I mind my own business. I don’t complain about anyone else’s noisy party because I might have a noisy party some day; I don’t peer into the windows across the street.
So I’m a little bit mystified as to the utility of Front Porch. What kind of information am I going to get from somebody who lives up the block, much less three blocks away, that I need to know? Am I alone in feeling it’s more about people snooping on each other than being little neighborhood journalists? And even if it is about citizen journalism, what of the thriving neighborhood newspapers in San Francisco, including the Noe Valley Voice, the New Bernal Journal and, in Glaser’s own neighborhood, the Potrero View? Does Front Porch have the potential to replace these local institutions?
As for “items for sale,” that’s what we have Craigslist for.