Jon Clarke launched the UK hyperlocal site Beckenhamtown.us 2 years ago using the social network builder Ning. He sees the site as differing from traditional publishers in offering everyone a free voice, as well as providing a space to play out local debates around issues such as academy schools and parking zones. Here’s the interview in full:
Who were the people behind the blog, and what were their backgrounds before setting it up?
Me, and no one else, I’ve been in digital media at various ad agencies for over 10 years and therefore am au fait with lots of the ways to create and promote a website.
What made you decide to set up the blog?
The main reason was that I thought Beckenham was not well served with a ‘live’ and ‘community’ based website, there just weren’t any for what is quite a neighbourly area for neighbours to talk and share local things.
When did you set up the blog and how did you go about it?
The site was set up in August 2008. I’m not a programmer or web designer so I used the Ning.com community website platform that allows one to cut and paste and move various features around to make a good community site. I then used my knowledge to bring in lots of dynamic content, widgets and RSS feeds to pad out the site and bring it alive.
I wanted to use a co.uk address but it was gone so I plumped instead for a .US address. I thought it best represented who the website was for and about – all of US in Beckenham Town. Continue reading