A Review of the Neighborhood Social Media Site Nextdoor.com

Neighborhood Garage Sale Day!

I may have mentioned www.nextdoor.com in the past, but I wanted to hold off on my recommendation until I actually used it for a bit. If you have not heard of Nextdoor, it is essentially a private social media site that is made up of your ACTUAL neighbors.

Weird right? Yes, a way to interact with your ACTUAL, geographic, humanoid neighbors.

I have been a member now for almost a year and was initially invited by a friend of a friend whom I happened to meet working on a local political campaign. At first, I was a little skeptical because your Nextdoor profile is based on your actual address. And while I know that finding a person’s address is not that difficult, I certainly do not want to help anyone find out where my family and I rest our heads at night.

Simply put, I was won over by the verification process. After going through the account activation process which includes a combination of identity checks, I have fairly certain that people are who they say they are and live where they say they live. Of course, there is ALWAYS a chance that this kind of info can be abused, but after using it for a while, this concern has been alleviated for me.

So, why am I recommending Nextdoor?

While there have been a few instances of people sharing things that are not quite neighborhood specific, concerns were quickly addressed. In the end, about 90% of what is shared and talked about, I actually want to know about:

  • EVENTS – This summer our neighborhood used Nextdoor to coordinate a huge garage sale (pictured above). There were about 60 houses that ended up participating and I have no doubt that Nextdoor played a huge part in increasing the number of households. We have also used it for announcements about neighborhood meetings, block parties, service referrals, etc.
  • SAFETY – Every community will have people who are a little too eager to get all up into people’s bidness, but when it comes to safety issues and crime, I have found the posts very helpful. I have been alerted to waves of home break-ins, scammers coming to homes, crime locations, etc. I have found them in no way alarmist, but shared as general info to factor in as we live and move in our neighborhood.
  • PETS – I know this one seems a little less important to some, but each time I see a “Have you seen my lost X?” post, I watch out a little more. Also, few months ago, we were also alerted to a coyote sighting and an attack on a cat. After this, we were extra careful about leaving our small dog outside.
  • COMMUNITY – Overall, the best thing about Nextdoor has been that I have felt a little more connected to my local community. Meeting folks via Nextdoor and then eventually person has further connected me with the actual people who live right around us.

Of course there are still some questions to be raised as Nextdoor grows:

  • How will the info – referrals, recommendations, etc –  not get watered down?
  • How will transitions work when people move?
  • How will neighbor conflicts be moderated?
  • When trolls get in, what happens?

I will say that in the few threads that I have been a part of, it appears as if the Nextdoor folks are genuinely interested in getting feedback from those who are using it currently. Again, a plus.

So at this point, I am comfortable now recommending this site for your use. Below are some of the links that you may want to check out and use as you get started. Let me know how it goes and enjoying meeting those other humans that live near you called your neighbors 😉

  • MY PROFILE – Just see what folks will see.
  • JOIN HERE – If you use this link to sign up, I move if the “Top Inviters List” Woohoo! There is no gain for me other than social media ego strokes. *smh*
  • THIS LINK – Because Nextdoor is still relatively new, not all neighborhoods have started groups, so if you start one, we both get a $50 Starbucks card.

In the end, I have experienced Nextdoor as a catalyst for our neighborhood to begin acting like an actual . . . neighborhood. If you decide to join, I that you too will find it as useful as I have.

Three Reasons You Should Try Instagram

Recent images (as of July 29, 2012) from my Instagram activity. Compiled by statigr.am.com.

By now most of you have heard of Instagram. Not only did Facebook buy this fledgling company for a bazzillion dollars, but for many folks it has become the social media platform of choice. The reason that I too have gravitated to Instagram might be that my twitter and facebook feeds are getting more and more difficult to track or that I am more a visual person, but whatever the case, I have found myself thinking Instagram first in my social networking life.

I asked some people to share why they use Instagram here and offer three more reasons you might want to give Instagram a try.

ONE – We are given the power to unleash the artsy fartsy creative monster within. With all the basic Instagram app features EVERYONE can find the artist within. We each see beauty in different things whether it is architecture, food, nature or the city and now we can share those passions in a new way. Using the different editing tools: filters, focusing, brightness, etc. it does not take much to create a picture that looks very cool and better captures what we are trying to say through a particular image. Case in point, this is a picture I snapped during a recent coffee stop at Cup in the Glen Park area of San Francisco. It is just three drinks: a latte, a havana and a hot chocolate, but with a few edits . . . voila, artsy beyond my own true ability.

TWO – We see the world in new ways through the eyes and words of our friends.   One of the greatest surprises as I have gotten into Instagram has been being able to see another side of people I know. While Instagram allows us all to be artsy, people still have to decide what images to share. Many times a day, as I scroll through images of those I follow, I find myself thinking, “Wow, that is a really cool shot!”  or “Hmmm, I had no idea that he liked X.” The angles, objects and stories that people choose to capture can share a whole other side to a person’s personality and perspective that we don’t always see through words. For instance, if you had not known me before, you might not have known that our family is a big Oakland A’s family, now you do. Go A’s!

THREE – We create a scrapbook for ourselves and our families. As with Twitter and Facebook, I am most interested in the in-between moments of life that help me to see the complexity of humanity.  Through capturing images of children, pets, food, buildings, etc. we are given a glimpse into the ongoing journey of life that folks are living. As look back on my own photo feed, I am given a visual reminder of some of our memorable moments in life. Yep, that’s us fishing.

Of course none of these services come without some cautions to think about. Now that Instagram is owned by Facebook, some have raised concerns about privacy, photo ownership and other issues about the general usage if both services. You can read some of that here, here and here.

In future posts I’ll compile some tips/apps to enhance your Instagram experience, but until then, download the app for your iPhone of Android (Yes, it’s a smart phone-only app) and dive in. Here are a few folks who I would suggest you follow as you get started.

  • UPDATE: TOTALLY forgot to list another photographer and friend who takes some very cool shots. Give @mfphotog some love.
  • @denisekendall – For great architecture and landscape images from the Bay Area.
  • @leslieannrod – Lots of dogs, food and life captured with a photographers eye.
  • @edunny – Another photographer friend, captures some very cool shots.
  • @casacullen – Great food, a new baby boy and a cute little dog.
  • @philz_coffee – Um, because it’s the best coffee in San Francisco.
  • If you would like to follow me you can find me by searching for breyeschow

So, there you have it, just a few reasons you might want to give Instagram a try. If you have other reasons, please feel free to leave them here or on my I ♥ Instagram because . . . photo.