Being neighbourly

Social media’s answer to a conversation across the back fence

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It can be easier to learn what a friend ate for lunch in Amsterdam than what’s going on just down the road. Social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn connect us with people across the globe, but now the original social network—the neighbourhood bush telegraph—is getting a technology upgrade too.

Social networking site has been designed to connect people with their neighbours. The founders hope that people will use the private site to discover what’s going on in their own community—from finding babysitters to free feijoas, civil defence responses to reporting a burglary—reclaiming the neighbourhood in an era when many don’t know who their neighbours are.

Co-founder Casey Eden says the internet has enabled society to build incredible networks across the world. “On the surface it makes us feel like we’re very engaged,” he says. “We can go home and have all these virtual interactions and we don’t feel like we need to talk across the fence.”

But looking back, the neighbourhood was the first stop for social interaction. “Anyone aged 20 to 40 now has seen a neighbourhood. We remember our parents knowing the neighbours and the importance of that. We also live in this internet age where we know how to go about our interactions in other ways.”

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