Social media takes to the street

Recently I came across a website that allows me to chat to my neighbours and to find out about local news.

Streetbook (where did they get that from?) is a social network that covers the area I live in and other parts of Wandsworth borough. You can join a local group based on your area or affiliated to a local neighbourhood watch or park users group.

It’s early days, but so far Streetbook seems to be well received by local people. Today, the local chat section in Tooting – my group – featured discussions about where to find a good dentist and local jazz dance classes.

I am also sensing that Streetbook is bringing communities together and generating local action. Since I first logged in, I have seen a book group formed and discussions about creating a theatre group.

The Social Network showed how Facebook started locally, on Harvard’s campus, and soon spread to other US universities and beyond. The social networking startup behind Streetbook is also starting local and has chosen Wandsworth borough as its test bed. Founded at the start of 2010, it is now gearing up for a major expansion.

One thing that might put off some potential users is that you have to share details about your postcode and credit card details in order to join the chat. But Streetbook insists that these details are used only for address verification and are never stored in any systems, or in log data.

Whatever your views on the privacy aspects of Streetbook, it seems to have stolen a march on other social networks when it comes to helping to nurture a sense of community in Wandsworth at least. It will be interesting to see if the company succeeds elsewhere.

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3 thoughts on “Social media takes to the street

  1. Nina says:

    Hi Rosie,

    Thanks so much for the mention and great feedback.

    Just to give a little more information regarding verification…

    Streetbook puts locals in touch with people they live near but don’t necessarily know, so the purpose of address verification is to help build trust and give members confidence that they’re chatting with genuine neighbours.

    It is optional, and we offer postal verification as an alternative to the credit card option. Members choosing to verify by card can rest assured that there’s no charge and details aren’t stored, we simply run a billing address check. Our site uses the same SSL security technology as online banking, and is verified daily by McAfee. Find out more about address verification at http://www.streetbook.com/faq/verification.

    In terms of privacy – members’ email addresses and house/flat numbers are not shared, and if you post messages it’s under a display name that you control.

    We’re really keen to hear your thoughts on how Streetbook is working in your area and new features you might find useful, so please do keep us posted.

    Nina

  2. Alex says:

    Hey, there is another thing called Streetbook, but it’s actually on the street. But the message here is a bit different, it’s more of a protest. It’s that you shouldn’t spend all your time in the internet, instead go outside and meet up with people.
    here is the explanation:
    http://creative.arte.tv/de/space/Streetbook/messages/

    greetings

    alex

  3. Phil says:

    I notice ‘Streetbook’ is now called Streetlife. In late 2007 I was living – and in a relationship – with a girl in Sydney who was spending all her free hours coding a neighborhood networking website she called Streetbook. I had never before seen this sort of concept on the net. In the end she quit her job and would stay up for days at a time building the site. Parts of it she didn’t have the web skills to do herself so she paid several thousand dollars to get coders in either Russia or India (I can’t quite recall which) to look after those parts of the design. Early in 2008 the site went ‘live’ and was concentrated on a small number of inner city suburbs in Sydney. On the third day it was live she got up in the morning and checked the site and told me she was able to tell that Google in the U.S. had been all over the site across a number of hours. Within several weeks the site was going through the roof – people were setting up profiles with content and interacting on the site just as she had planned. Then after about 6 weeks she said she was unhappy with how it was working – from memory it was requiring too much monitoring – and she took it off line so that she could redesign it. Then within weeks her whole idea for what she wanted to do changed quite dramatically. From the moment she had told me about her Streetbook idea I thought it had unlimited potential. Her new idea just didn’t resonate (with me at least). After a year she and I went our separate ways and we don’t speak now. Then a couple of years ago I googled Streetbook one day and the search results included a site which – strangely – was named something else, but which was exactly her concept (ironically found using Streetbook as the keyword). I don’t know if that’s coincidence, but I feel really sorry for her. I tried for ages to get her to see that her idea was fantastic and had huge potential, but once she’d moved on, she just didn’t seem to care. Tonight my FB newsfeed had an ad for exactly this type of site concept now available in my city (Hobart) and my thoughts turned back to that sadly lost opportunity. Anyway, I don’t know if that’s where ‘Streetbook’ came from but I can’t help thinking it might be.

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