Outside.In – mapping neighborhood information

One of our faithful listeners, Ed, emailed us about Outside.In, a project that is seeking to bring together the myriad of local information that can be available on the Web, using location as a unifying theme: “The problem is: there’s no single place that unites all those different voices, that grounds them all in specific locations. With help from you — suggesting and tagging neighborhood data, and suggesting ways that we can better organize the web geographically — we think can help unify the divided space of hyperlocal content.”

Outside.In is currently U.S. only, but there are 56 cities and over 3000 neighborhoods represented. The key difference, I think, between Outside.In and a project like Platial is that Outside.In is focusing on offering a central location-based platform for gathering, organizing and presenting information like local news, events, and issues, while Platial focuses on users identifying and sharing places.

Outside.In has some real heavyweights behind it, including founder Steven Johnson, who is the author of The Ghost Map, and John Seely Brown, a former Chief Scientist for Xerox and director of PARC. They’ve got a good idea and I especially like the local neighborhood blog roll for some of the cities. Outside.In has a lot of potential and they’ve already made a good start, so it will be interesting to see how they do in the long term in the increasingly crowded social networking space. The really cool thing would be to take Outside.In mobile, and provide the local information to people who are actually visiting or moving about in the neighborhood.