Out Of Hours Hyperlocal is launched

January 25th, 2013 by Jerome Turner in Hyperlocal | no comments

Yesterday we ran the first ever Out Of Hours Hyperlocal, a new meetup for hyperlocal producers, community bloggers or those interested in the area. “Another one?” I hear you ask. “But there are already so many of these things I can’t go to. They’re always in big cities and I work full time, I’m going to miss the boat again.” Not this time. OOH Hyperlocal is designed to deal with those issues. It’s held in the evening, at 9pm and more importantly, it’s online.

google-hangout

We have already been using Google Hangouts on the Creative Citizens project in our content analysis, allowing researchers from Cardiff and Birmingham to work collaboratively without setting foot outside of their office. The hangout can be set up with an open door so anyone can drop in or out, with an associated Google+ Event page that’s an easily shareable URL for inviting people via social media. Some people noted on the Event page that they would be attending, but we had little idea how many actually would. The point though is there’s very little risk compared to a physical event – no costs to cover. In the end we had a good turnout and the room was full at times. Representatives from four hyperlocal blogs attended, as did a vlogger, and a council worker with interests in how councils can build relationships with hyperlocal media.

The discussion lasted nearly two hours, possibly longer than I’d expected, and covered a range of subjects. We started with a paper describing research that compared participants’ memory of Facebook status updates with other kind of similar media. And then moved onto issues around crime reporting and some of the ethical issues, comparisons of different community makeups across the hyperlocals, how people source stories, relationships with other organisations such as the police and councils and of course, the snow and how that affected hyperlocals this week. Feedback after the event was great, with people saying they’d be back next week.

In addition to the video chat, some people contributed via the text chat panel and this is something that may be made public from these meetings in the future. There was some thinking that we would start to record sessions in the future, but in the main we won’t, as attendees said they’d be less likely to be comfortable and candid in their discussion. It may be that some specific discussion sessions are planned with the specific idea of them being recorded, more of a panel discussion that a free chat, but it will always be clear when these are taking part.

If you’d like to find out more follow the Twitter tag #oohhyperlocal and look out for the next meeting which will likely be next week, Wed 30th or Thursday 31st at 9pm again. Our ‘keynote’ next week will hopefully be from Philip John of the Hyperlocal Alliance.

In terms of our research this will be useful in engaging in current discourse and unearthing the everyday issues facing hyperlocals.

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