The murmur of the snarkmatrix…

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Now that's what I call local

Sorry; this snippet from Matt’s second-day liveblog/Twitter curation of the conversation at PubCamp blew my mind a little bit:

Matt Thompson: One of the most frequent issues users have is not being able to find something on our website. The vast majority of the time, that’s because they heard something on their local programming and are searching for it in the national site. If we had shared authentication across the system, we could be able to recognize other stations users authenticate with and show them local content.

So simple, but so powerful.

You’ve got to fine-tune just how local you get to match user expectations, though:

Matt Thompson: Discussion turns to users qualms over things like the Open Graph, turning on, for example, and suddenly seeing your friends’ names all over the page. How does the Washington Post know who my friends are?

But we quickly come back to the simple-but-powerful stuff again:

Matt Thompson: I asked for my pony: a registration system that would just keep track of what I’d read on the site, then let me know when those stories were updated/corrected.

I think we almost need to bring it back to the user end and offer something like a hybrid between the “Private Browsing/Incognito” mode that’s started to get incorporated into web browsers and the browser extension FlashBlock, that disables Flash ads and videos except when you whitelist them.

Call it “SocialBlock” (which sounds way more fun than it actually is). I browse with my identity intact, carrying it with me, but can select which sites/services I offer it to. And it’s just a quick click to turn it on or off.

One comment

Matt P says…

I wonder if geolocation by IP address offers a way to localize content without going through the hassles of registration. If I’m looking for a radio story, I want to find it — I don’t want to think about registering for or linking it to my Facebook / Twitter account. But if the site recognized from my IP address that I was visiting from Lansing, MI, it could pull an RSS feed of latest local stories from my home station, WKAR, and put those in a sidebar. already does this during signup to reduce the number of steps required, along with banner ads for dodgy personals sites. Is it worth testing for major media sites?

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