Local social networking

Sites like Bebo, MySpace, and Facebook aggregate people from all over the world – they're more about interest community than geographic community. Niche social-networking sites zooming in on narrower and narrower interests are popping up all over the place. Another trend is increasingly focused geographic community online. It has several forms: MySpace's sites for individual countries, "home-grown" sites such as LunarStorm in Sweden and Mixi in Japan, and now sites as local as individual cities. Examples of that last category is Yelp.com in the US and the UK's welovelocal.com, just launched in London, with other UK cities coming soon. It's pretty smart – taking those searchable databases of local businesses of Web 1.0 days and putting them in the context of online community that allows people to make and share recommendations. They mashed up those attributes with Google Maps, so the user can actually find the business being recommended. Another twist is applying social networking to both interest and geographic community. PC World reports on and links to sites that help solo travelers find compatible people to sit next to on airplanes, friendly couches to sleep on in distant cities, and cheap rides from the airport in expensive cities.

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