Adrian Holovaty — the guy behind the ChicagoCrime-Google Maps mashup, and now the launch of EveryBlock — is a smart guy. And not just when it comes to things like coding, but in the way he thinks about media. When we think of journalism and the “news” business, we often just think about the obvious things, like the plane crashes or the Iraq war, but in your neighbourhood there’s a whole lot more than that you might consider “news,” or at least, information worth knowing. It could be a street closure, a crime wave, a local bylaw change, and dozens of other things.
Good local newspapers cover all of those things and more — but the information isn’t always easy to find. EveryBlock.com is an attempt to use the kind of aggregation and smart filtering that a search engine like Google provides, but on a smaller scale. So far, the service is still in its infancy, but the more data Adrian and his team can bring into the mix — including newspaper stories and blog posts — the more value there will be. I think it’s a great effort, as is another local service called Outside.in, and I wish we had something like it here in the Great White North.
Fred Wilson, an investor in Outside.in, says in a comment below that bringing the service to Canada is a top priority — which I’m glad to hear. And speaking of comments, it’s worth reading the TechCrunch piece on EveryBlock if only because of the comments that Adrian Holovaty contributes in response to the concerns from several readers.
I think it’s worth noting that Rod Edwards tried to do something very similar to EveryBlock with a site called Blockrocker.com, and didn’t have much luck actually turning it into a business. Why? As he says in his post at Techfold, people’s interests aren’t always aligned with their specific geographic location — although we often assume that they must be. That’s a good point. One of the benefits of the Web is that it makes your actual physical location almost irrelevant.