People tend to work not very far from where they were born — indeed, in the UK, the average commuting distance to work is just 8 miles. Most people in the UK, live within about 10 miles of where they were born. We don’t actually travel as far as would like to think.
So why is business, the Internet and everything we read about the way society is going emphasising the global? You would think that from the concentration on being international we all lived in a world where we are constantly travelling, constantly in touch with people from thousands of miles away and constantly buying things from shops that we can’t possibly visit because they’re on the other side of the planet.
However, many of the people on a teenager’s social network are actually kids they meet at school or in the town’s youth club. In online business and social networks, a significant proportion of the contacts that people have are people they’ve physically met first and then connected with online; and the people we meet physically are usually people who work or live close to us.
So, online social networking fools us into believing that we have an interconnected global group of contacts. Similarly, onlin shopping fools us into believing that we are buy from some distant warehouse. But guess what; many of the retailers will deliver material that you bought online from your local shop. You shop online at Tesco.com, but the stuff you’re buying is actually taken off the shelves from a Tesco store just a few miles down the road from you. Internet shopping seems global, but it is frequently local.
Now the Internet is increasingly providing local publishing. For many years you’ve been able to buy local newspapers, but these have tended to cover a region, a city or a town. For a publisher to produce a newspaper or a magazine that is specifically about your part of the town is very difficult. It simply costs too much money. Though some local business magazines do succeed. However, magazines like these are much more localised than traditional, regional publications – emphasising again the true value of local.
Now, publishers can produce highly localised editions of their newspapers, but online. Triblocal.com is one great example of how the Internet is increasingly becoming local. This Chicago-based newspaper group is able to produce a printed newspaper for the whole Chicago region, but highly localised online editions to cover tiny little geographical areas giving people highly specific local news exactly what they want.
People like to read about the things going on in their own tiny little part of the world. They like to meet each other in their own tiny little part of the world, and they like to buy things from shops in their own tiny little part of the world. If your online business emphasises its global nature you could be missing out on the growing local phenomenon.