Perry blogged about the public beta of localguides.com, in the wee hours of this (Dutch) morning. This continues Local Matter’s exploration into ‘local vertical’ through an ongoing dialogue with the user and enabling users to have better dialogues with other users. Using that special blend of search ontology and local features that makes LMi what it is, localguides.com builds on this as well by introducing something to chat with: special lists, called guides. As Perry says: “The concept of local lists is central to this product. Consumers truly live on lists – lists organize Sunday errands, lists organize family and friends activities, lists bring structure to complex situations. Lists ease tension by giving consumers a sense of order and control! The very cool thing is that lists also make great conversation starters”. Lists with participation and collaboration are called guides.
Guides have two roles: they are the things that enable users to collate, sort, comment and share their local knowledge. They are also the integration of advertiser-generated content and user-generated content. They are wonderfully viral containers for passing on a symbiotic mix of advertiser and user.
It is interesting that traditionally in the directories industry, there has been an almost complete ignorance of users. This changed a little when we moved into IYP, as users become a greater focus, but they lived in a natural tension with advertisers. LocalGuides shows a way were both can help each other. I mean seriously: Google maps has got some great functionality to look at maps, but very little really useful content, and actually it’s a terrible search experience. Local Guides has got great content, great features and a search experience to encompass them both.
And yeah, of course, participation and collaboration is just our new old friend Web 2.0, and apart from the collaborative community, all the normal elements are there: mash-ups of Flickr pictures, YouTube videos, links and content aggregation. Except now, it’s so much more local.
But apart from all that theory, guides are a lot of fun. They are great ways of letting us all express our very local selves, and to dip our toes into pools of local knowledge. The best way to learn this is by trying out: the site is in public beta at LocalGuides.com.