Hyperlocal is Hard

by Juan on April 20, 2010

It’s been a long hiatus from writing in this space, but as Alain de Botton says

The reason to travel: there are inner transitions we can’t properly cement without a change of locations.8:03 AM Apr 12th via web

And travel, my reliable muse, has not only brought me back to familiar places but reignited the passion for the ideas that I have developed throughout this blog.

Where were we? Oh yes, hyperlocal is hard.

The quest to assemble a local guide for the global citizen has taught me that Hyperlocal is hard. While cities have a convenient way to measure their boundaries, narrowing a particular area within a city with a very specific mindset or spirit seems a lot harder. We often fail to recognize that a lively neighbourhood is the sum of its core commercial strip, the back alleys that hide its best secrets, the surrounding residential areas that define the character of its inhabitants and the eternal flow of people that make it their favourite. Now imagine trying to define a city by one of its many neighbourhoods.

Such was the naive journey I embarqued in when decided to develop such a guide. In the process of researching some neighbourhoods I found myself knocking on doors of boutique hotels camouflaged as residences, negotiating “licensing fees” to take a few photos in amazing secret gardens, discovering the unbelievably rich history behind ancient buildings, growing frustrated with the gross inaccuracy of map services that led me to dead ends or ghost hotels (I swear, they are not there) and trying to put myself in the shoes of the brave traveler willing to go farther for the sake of a great journey.

The intent was clear: if I was a “slow traveler”, willing to invest myself into a destination, which particular area within a city would maximize my chances of understanding it? Originally conceived as a project to arm myself with plenty of good ideas for future travel, it quickly became the topic of many conversations with travel enthusiasts realizing this was a fresh alternative to the complexity of city-oriented travel guides with their endless listings.

So it is hard. Not impossible. And because I have the good fortune of being allied with a smart group of people that have devoted their careers to make travel easier, I have escalated this particular venture to the level of a business project with PlanetEye. As I write this post, the production team at PlanetEye is finishing touches to launch what is our first joint project: a mix of some of the ideas you’ve read about here and some of the content that I produced over the last months with a very interesting visual proposition and more importantly a potential business angle that will make it a viable project, allowing us to expand to many other destinations. I really hope this first venture of the Global Culture brand is embraced by the always curious global citizen.

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