Posted by: Rob Hof on April 29, 2005
While doing my morning runs at my local park, I find all kinds of stuff people have left behind—soccer balls, toy trucks, even car keys. And I got to thinking: Why couldn’t you have some kind of local online Lost and Found service, so people who know they lost something in, say, Palo Alto somewhere, could essentially Google the Web for their wayward stuff that somebody has found?
Bear with me here, but what if finders could type a few phrases, like "lost keys" and "Palo Alto," or even more specifically, "Seale Park," into a feed from their blog? Maybe they could even be geocoded--tagged with their actual geographical coordinates. Google's Web harvesting machines pick it up, so when the owner types in a few words on his lost keys, up pops that feed, and the two people can connect. Or maybe a site like Craigslist, which has a lost and found section, could act as the hub for such feeds. Of course, this kind of thing would depend on lots of people contributing voluntarily, but Craigslist, Wikipedia, and other volunteer sites prove that's not an insurmountable barrier.
As it turns out, other people, such as Gideon Rosenblatt and Howard Rheingold, are way ahead of me. They're thinking about this kind of RSS-driven ultralocal content in a much broader way, envisioning the rise of new neighborhood-based online microcommunities and markets. Pretty profound possibilities. Anybody working on this kind of thing?