Here is what I’m thinking about today
  • Hyperlocal as a type of content not a type of audience
  • Hyperpersonal is a method of content collection
  • Hyperpersonal as rubbish way for news organisations to serve ‘news’

Why have I been thinking that? Is it just that there is nothing on TV?

No. I’ve been catching up on my reading this week after my hols and it seems that, amongst other things, the demise of AP’s youth orientated content service ASAP, has given many pause for thought about the idea of community/niche/hyperlocal content.

Apparently ASAP was “an editorial success, but not a similar success economically.”

Steve Yelvington  thinks he knows why. He sees ASAP’s split output to a print and online product as a core failing  “as a separate product, neither the print nor the online component stood a chance of success”.

But Juan Antonio Giner  sees the separation of audience rather than output as the problem as he uses ASAP as an example of what can happen when you approach a younger audience with a “Guantanamo mentality”.

AP cropped up again in the news that one of its ‘crowd powered’ collaborators  NowPublic.com has got a $10.6 million injection of cash.  It’s seen as a real confidence boost to the crowdsource/citizen journalism approach given the recent closure of Backfence.

But, given the limelight for a moment, Now Public CEO Len Brody has put the cat amongst the pigeons in an interview with Gigacom, around just what makes sites like Nowpublic a success.  In particular his comments on Hyperlocal

“I used to think that hyperlocal was what mattered to people, but for 35 and under especially, the concept of local is very different. Like Facebook publishing the news feed… it’s changed from hyperlocal to hyperpersonal.”

It’s generated a lot of comment.

Steve Boriss sees hyperlocal and hyperpersonal as the same thing whilst others, like Jeff Jarvis, don’t like the idea that hyperlocal is somehow only of interest to provincial old farts . Howard Owens wisely observes that the quote is as much a cue to debate what hyperlocal actually means .

I agree And in that sense I think Brody is right especially as I think that the phrase local and *hyperlocal *are getting mixed up in the debate.

In recent times Hyperlocal has become more a way of talking about a process of monetizing/leveraging the relationship with an audience and the content they produce; synonymous as it is with crowdsourcing and citizen journalism. It’s local news for and by local people. Maybe that’s as a result of the corporate approach gaining the limelight  But in reality all that the approach to hyperlocal really reflects are the limitations of the content produced by traditional media outlets. Restricted by geography and of limited interest in a broader market that their audience browses through everyday.

That’s why I’m thinking of Hyperlocal as a type of content not a type of audience. Hyperlocal is content that suits personal interests defined, as they are, in so many dimensions not just geographical. As a core technology the web means that an individual can browse and collect that content driven by their own (hyper) personal interests. Move to apps like facebook and an individual can refine that to a personal(relationship) level. It is all absorbed in the same way – it’s all news. That’s why I’m thinking that Hyperpersonal is a method of content collection.

What constitutes interesting content is a decision that the individual makes not just the news organisations. That’s why I think Hyperpersonal as rubbish way for news organisations to serve ‘news’.

It will be interesting to see how the debate plays out. Hopefully hyperlocal and hyperpersonal will manage to avoid the “Guantanamo mentality” of trying to define and exploit audiences and give everyone pause for more reflection on just how it helps define our (hyper)personal and (hyper)local relationships