“How important is local, really?”

“I’m not saying local doesn’t matter. Local is important. It’s especially important for people who are newcomers to communities. It’s especially important for identifying accessible resources and services that people might need in their daily lives. But in many senses, “local” is just one set of ripples on the lake of information — especially when it comes to “news.” And for many people, it’s not even the biggest or most important set of ripples.”[Amy Gahran/E-Media Tidbits

And it occurs to me that “local” is much more important to people with children than to those of us without.

3 thoughts on ““How important is local, really?”

  1. Hi, Steve
    Thanks for spreading the discussion on the important topic of the overlap (or not) between geography and civic engagement.
    For context, this all got started in the comment thread to a post to the blog of the new Knight Commission on Information Needs of Communities in a Democracy:
    http://knightcomm.wordpress.com/2008/09/08/hello-world
    Be sure to read the thread, especially the thoughtful input from the president of the Knight Foundation, Alberto Ibargüen.
    That discussion thread, and related posts by others (http://snurl.com/3pv7v), gave me much to ponder. So much that over the weekend I wrote a pretty long essay pulling together my thoughts on how we could design more effective and engaging systems of civic information that actually work *with* human nature.
    For easier reading I broke this essay up into a series on my blog Contentious.com. I posted the first installment today:
    Being a Citizen Shouldn’t Be So Hard! Part 1: Human Nature
    http://snurl.com/3qkxl
    My goal in this series is to strengthen and streamline my ideas so I can submit them in a useful format to the Knight Commission for consideration in their deliberations.
    If you or your readers gets a chance to read my work, I’d love to hear your thoughts, questions, and challenges. I’m really enjoying this discussion!
    Thanks,
    – Amy Gahran

  2. Local is going to become a lot more important.
    I just finished reading “World Made by Hand” by James Howard Kuntsler. It paints a picture of life in the mid-21st century without access to petroleum. No oil means no cheap transportation, no infrastructure. No infrastructure means no food from far away, no maintenance of vital services or roads, no large-scale centralized manufacturing of specialized goods, no medical supplies, tools, etc.
    So, in the story, society largely becomes the people and places you can walk or ride on the back of an animal to. Electricity only if you make it yourself. And of course forget about the internet, telephone, radio, or television. Hardly any newspapers since that business had become consolidated. Oh, and no government, military, or law enforcement.
    I don’t know how far I might go in buying into the reality of the story, but I expect we’ll see this concept come to fruition to some shade or another. It would be good, beforehand, to not sell off everything that is nearby that makes your life function.

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