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Simple technology makes neighborhoods

July 1, 2005

A recently published analysis of census data shows the
incredible growth of new communities in Florida,California and Arizona. These are new towns that have seen growth rates of 24% and upwards in the past four years.

These fresh new communities are being built from scratch. They have to build neighborhoods in a short period of time or they cannot function properly, if they don’t take on a neigborhood feel, they will simply become isolated dormitory towns with little interaction between inhabitants.

Building a true neighborhood usually takes years of effort from citizens who forge informal and formal ties with each other and in so doing create a spirit that represents their community. This involves an exchange between long standing members and new arrivals, but what if everyone is a new arrival?

i-neighbors is a project from MIT that allows neighborhoods to use the Internet to create a community. It’s simple and easy to use and can encourage interaction between citizens with themselves and the elected officials that represent them. It’s a grass roots exchange. Currently, over 4,100 neighborhoods are represented.

i-neighbors is a great example of a very simple technology being used as an enabler to bring people together. Like E-Bay creates a giant global marketplace for goods, i-neighbors is a model for community building, not the virtual communities seen in classic social networking, but real physical communities.

Much has been written about the potential isolating impact of technology on people, but i-neighbors is a great example of just the opposite; bringing people together in the real world to interact, organize, exchange and build thriving neighborhoods.

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