TechCrunch reports that Google is in negotiations to buy Yelp. Makes perfect sense. Google is ready to make an assault on local with its Place Pages and QR codes on local establishments and augmented maps and directions and mobile…. This turf was newspapers’ and phone companies’ to lose and lose it, they will.
Or as I put it in a tweet: “Yelp + GoogleMaps + StreetView + PlacePages + GOOG411 + Google Goggles + Android + AdSense = Google synchronicity”
Twitter announced a geolocation API today and it set my mind to spinning with implications that I tweeted like a Gatling gun:
* For news, it would be possible to verify that witnesses reporting what they see are where they say they are. Twitpics can be geotagged.
* Local news organizations should build apps to track surges of activity around any address. Could be a news event. Could be hipsters congregating (telling one where hippness happens).
* News orgs could also use it as a reporting tool: the fabled pothole report via Twitter.
* A hyperlocal blog could set up a feed of your neighbors’ tweets all around town.
* Over time, the geoTwitter enables what I’ve been thinking of as the annotation layer atop the real world: diners create simple reviews of a restaurant simply around location, anyone annotating any location.
* I wonder about the commercial applications: subscribing to tweet ads near me.
The live web, the social web, and the geo web come together.
Now there are caveats aplenty. Foursquare is similar and hasn’t yet burned up the world and neither has Google Latitude. Laptops need geolocation. There are privacy concerns that may stop people from switching on geolocation (the default is off). There are dangers; geolocation could have made tweets from Iran more credible but also more perilous for the authors. I wonder why Twitter is choosing to erase geo data after time; this diminishes the value of the annotation layer.
But still, a simple API like this can make the mind spin. Now combine geoTwitter with my recent obsession, Google Wave, and imagine how live and collaborative content can be enhanced with geography. Or add geography to Marissa Mayer’s vision of the hyperpersonal news stream. The possibilities are endless.
: LATER: PaidContent sees potential for geotargeted ads. And TechCrunch writes about Foursquare’s alerts to nearby deals.
Phil Rosenthal from the Chicago Tribune asked me the right question: If you were a newspaper in Chicago, how would you react to the invasion of Arianna (see the post below). My response:
The old way would be to treat her as a competitor and try to do what she does.
The new way would be to find ways to work with her in a network: Sell her local ads and get a piece of her revenue as a result. Take feeds of the good blogs and bloggers she finds and put that in your site, taking the advantage of her curation and relationships. Start lots of blogs that crosspost in her product and yours so you use her to promote those blogs to a new audience. Provide her with feeds of your news so she can deliver it to her audience and you can get links from them to your content. Start to curate blogs on your own and include her in that collection so you can deliver the best of the larger network of local content to your audience. You no longer own the market; you are now part of a larger network and the larger that network is — if you’ve put yourself in the right position — the better it is for you.
Last night at one of the Guardian’s Future of Journalism sessions they are running for staff (and putting online), editor Alan Rusbridger had a conversation with Arianna Huffington and I do believe this is new: Arianna is going local. She’ll devote one editor to curating news and blog posts in the market. Jemima Kiss beat me to blogging this (she must have had less of the red wine at the dinner afterwards). She just added a green section and will launch books, international, and sports soon.
“We are an aspiring newspaper,” she said.
I was just with Emily Bell, head of digital at the Guardian, and she used the right word to describe this: Agile. Arianna and company decide to start taking over the world and they just do it. Big, old newspapers plan and fret instead. Want to offer readers a new area of coverage? Start with one editor, find out what’s available, and get moving. Agile.
Google Maps just added the ability for consumers to add reviews to businesses, on top of the many review sources (such as Yelp) that Google had already licensed. If Google becomes the repository for reviews — because it’s Google — that’s significant competition to local efforts, like the Washington Post’s Local Explorer. I think we’re going to see a lot more use of maps as another entry into information locally. (via Steve Rubel)