Context is king. One of the most important things I’ve learned in my MLIS program is that the context of an information need is very important. There is the traditional sense of context: I need help with a project, I need help finding information about such-and-such, What websites are good for solving this type of problem, etc. Basically, this context revolves around the project.
However, I also feel there is the important context of space. For one thing, how do our information needs change based on our location? Remember, the Guinness Book of World Records started as a way to answer bar bets. Who is to say that now, instead of using this tome, we use our phones to Google our questions. In this sense, it is a social context – answering a question that you probably wouldn’t worry about on your own but only with friends.
What about physical location? Does our physical location affect our information needs? Well..yes. What if you are in the middle of a city and completely lost – your information need could be to find the nearest bathroom or the nearest police station. In this sense, the context is purely selfish – not a very social need. However, this does not always need to be the case. Sometimes we are lost in the city as a group and we all need to find the answer for something.
This brings me to the subject of the below link: hyperlocal awareness. With the rise of location-based services, we are now in an environment in which we can find information about our surroundings quickly. Foursquare, Twitter, Yelp, Loopt – these are all sources for information around us. If we are so hip to these apps, why haven’t hyperlocal news technologies been able to gain a foothold?
As awful as this is to say, I tend to find local newspapers lacking in quality. Perhaps people are used to this stereotype of local news and don’t consider the quality of hyperlocal news outlets to be worthy. Do you use any hyperlocal news site, such as outside.in? What do you think of it?