The New

Our portfolio company launched a new version of their service this week. There are a bunch of new ways to navigate aound your neighborhood to see what’s going on. John Geraci, co-founder and head of product, outlines them in this blog post:

A tabbed home page
that allows you to view Stories or Places in your area.

“Hot Topics” story clusters.

Sparklines. Along with each of these Hot Topics,
we present a really cool, small graph to show you how popular that
topic has been in your area for the past 30 days.

Map view.  The “Expand Map” link above the home page map reveals  a map view.

Improved navigation. The site is starting to feel like a
*real* web site, with real navigation.

I am a big fan of the map view. Here’s a picture of the manhattan map view:

Outsidein is trying to crack a really hard problem. How to deliver local news to you that is relevant and timely. Steven Johnson, ceo and co-founder of, calls it the pothole paradox:

Say you’ve got a particularly nasty pothole on your street that
you’ve been scraping the undercarriage of your car against for a year.
When the town or city finally decides to fix the pothole, that event is
genuinely news in your world. And it is news that you’ll never get from
your local paper, or TV affiliate, or radio station. [But] news about a pothole repair just five blocks from your street is the least interesting thing you could possibly imagine.

If you are interested in learning how Steven and team plan to address the pothole paradox, read his entire post. is a work in progress. The site keeps getting better. They have more and more content every day. They are starting to cover most of the major US cities pretty well. But rural geographies and international aren’t covered well yet.

I suspect it’s going to take time to crack the pothole paradox. And I sure hope is the one to do it.

#VC & Technology

Comments (Archived):

  1. Tom W. should have a charity/causes/events/volunteers aspect to it – now that would get viral

  2. narnia

    I’m still confused as to the utility of, but I’m optimistic.

  3. Sameer

    Brilliant.I can’t help but think of, a site that in my opinion has discovered the secret sauce when it comes to creating the definitive community forum for its town. If you live in Hoboken, that’s who you rely on to get a heads up about that pothole or broken fire hydrant, the new steak house in town or how your local politicians are performing (or not). Comments on stories have gone as high as 2000 in some cases.Granted, is looking to build a scalable model and these new developments definitely help build a platform that can be replicated but there are some sobering lessons to be learnt from how Hoboken411 has connected with its community so darn well. And we are thrilled to be powering notifications for the site. 🙂

  4. kenberger

    This site/service could be amazingly cool and useful, and seriously valuable with some public uptake.But the speed at which that happens will be limited until the front page draws one in to what the site is about. Right now, the first-time user (and everyone else) just sees the following before the fold: a list of news stories, a small map, and a terse vague idea of what the site’s about. I can not figure out what that map does– drilling down in Manhattan does not show me any POI’s like the enlarged one does. Dragging the map to a new location doesn’t generate a new list of stories for the new location, etc.On a tech note, interesting is that they “moved [the entire site] from PHP to Ruby on Rails”. Cool.

  5. andrew

    I still don’t get, maybe I am not thinking ahead but I just don’t understand what problem this service solves. Please explain.

  6. Ethan Bauley

    Steven’s post is brilliant.Have you guys seen[created by a grant from the Knight Foundation to The Django Guy Adrain Holovaty]

    1. Chris Hauser

      I just did and frankly, there’s nothing to see but worthless buzz.

      1. Ethan Bauley

        Considering they haven’t finished building anything yet, that seems to be expected.Holovaty has written some brilliant essays on reformatting news stories in XML. They’re posted on his home page: is intriguing because the Knight Foundation requires that the projects it funds be open-source. My theory on EveryBlock is that they are making an open-source web app that will scrape local government websites and organize the data. That data is will then be made freely available online.Anyone in any geography would be able to apply the open-source framework to their locality.In theory, EveryBlock would amass useful government info [like the construction permits outlined in Steven’s post] and make it accessible…Paging Tim O’Reilly…