Saturday, September 3, 2011

Local Business

Thing - Organization - LocalBusiness

A particular physical business or branch of an organization. Examples of LocalBusiness include a restaurant, a particular branch of a restaurant chain, a branch of a bank, a medical practice, a club, a bowling alley, etc.
PropertyExpected TypeDescription
Properties from Thing
descriptionTextA short description of the item.
imageURLURL of an image of the item.
nameTextThe name of the item.
urlURLURL of the item.
Properties from Place
addressPostalAddressPhysical address of the item.
aggregateRatingAggregateRatingThe overall rating, based on a collection of reviews or ratings, of the item.
containedInPlaceThe basic containment relation between places.
eventsEventUpcoming or past events associated with this place or organization.
faxNumberTextThe fax number.
geoGeoCoordinatesThe geo coordinates of the place.
interactionCountTextA count of a specific user interactions with this item—for example, 20 UserLikes, 5 UserComments, or 300 UserDownloads. The user interaction type should be one of the sub types of UserInteraction.
mapsURLA URL to a map of the place.
photosPhotographorImageObjectPhotographs of this place.
reviewsReviewReview of the item.
telephoneTextThe telephone number.
Properties from Organization
contactPointsContactPointA contact point for a person or organization.
emailTextEmail address.
employeesPersonPeople working for this organization.
foundersPersonA person who founded this organization.
foundingDateDateThe date that this organization was founded.
locationPlaceorPostalAddressThe location of the event or organization.
membersPersonorOrganizationA member of this organization.
Properties from LocalBusiness
branchOfOrganizationThe larger organization that this local business is a branch of, if any.
currenciesAcceptedTextThe currency accepted (in ISO 4217 currency format).
openingHoursDurationThe opening hours for a business. Opening hours can be specified as a weekly time range, starting with days, then times per day. Multiple days can be listed with commas ',' separating each day. Day or time ranges are specified using a hyphen '-'.
- Days are specified using the following two-letter combinations:Mo, Tu, We, Th, Fr, Sa, Su.
- Times are specified using 24:00 time. For example, 3pm is specified as 15:00.
- Here is an example: Tuesdays and Thursdays 4-8pm.
- If a business is open 7 days a week, then it can be specified asMonday through Sunday, all day.
paymentAcceptedTextCash, credit card, etc.
priceRangeTextThe price range of the business, for example $$$.

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Friday, September 2, 2011

Out Of The Shadows

Today we are proud to come out of the mystery and shadows to talk a little about some of the products we are working on to help local thrive.

So what is that we have been so secretive about anyway? Well generally we don't think secrets are healthy, but putting half baked ideas out into the wild can backfire too so we have been waiting until we were a little farther down the road to talk about what we are doing. Let's end with all the mystery then shall we?

We believe that bloggers a key part of the local ecosystem, and you have probably read previous posts about why we love local voices. So to help these voices we are building WordPress plugins to make it easy for the over 50M WordPress bloggers to make their sites hyper-local in minutes.

We call this "Welocally Places for WordPress", and its a plugin for Wordpress. So what is it?

Place Linking

We want to make it really easy for bloggers to identify real places associated with their content. To do this our plugins provide wizards that make finding places that bloggers are writing about as easy as entering the city & state and the common name of the place.

Once selected the content is automatically geo-coded from a worldwide database of over 21M points of interest. These places commonly are annotated with valuable metadata like website address, phone number, and category.


Maps help people find places. Integrated maps on the web have been super helpful in helping people find local businesses, and are crucial to the hyper-local movement, but require a lot of web skills to integrate into websites. We think that should change.

We think its should be insanely easy for bloggers to map their content, and share that content by location without expensive development. It should have the look and feel of the site its on, and be easy for their readers to connect with the places they are writing about in the real world. Here is what we are offering as part of mapping capabilities:
  • Stylized Info Windows - Custom CSS styles drive the look and feel of popups, or just use one of our included themes.
  • Stylized Markers - Map markers can be as original as your site, and have a number of options such as mouseover or layover text all driven from the widget options.
  • Map Effects - Auto pan, map and zoom level based on the content you have published. All your places always show on the map, no need to pan or zoom on load.
  • Web Location Mashups - Driving directions, add to personal maps, tweet about article with location.
  • Stylized Map Colors - Your CSS drives the colors of the map, or use one of our included themes.
  • Category Filtered Maps - Once you start identifying categories for content or templates will filter posts based on that category and put them on the map.
We want to make sure we deliver on great quality software products for bloggers, so we are going to offer a trial to all our Beta users. This Beta will be limited, because we are offering 6 months of the service for free just for helping us improve the product. While we do not want to commit to our schedule yet, if you are interested in signing up for this program please just contact me and we will make sure you are involved.

So this is just the beginning, if you are interested in how this all looks when its put together go check out, our oakland themed hyper-local blog we use as a test bed for our technologies. We are currently looking for Oakland based writers to contribute, so please contact me if you are interested.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Stone Soup

One of the reasons I came to the Yay Area was because I was a member of a pre-internet community based in San Francisco call "The Well" (Whole Earth eLelectronic Link) in which I had met a vibrant community of aware people who cared a bunch about how technology could be used to shape our lives positively. Upon arriving one of the first things I did was go to an "office party" for the WELL hosted by Howard Rheingold, who was a founder. The theme of the party was "Stone Soup".
Some travellers come to a village, carrying nothing more than an empty cooking pot. Upon their arrival, the villagers are unwilling to share any of their food stores with the hungry travellers. The travelers fill the pot with water, drop a large stone in it, and place it over a fire in the village square. One of the villagers becomes curious and asks what they are doing. The travellers answer that they are making "stone soup", which tastes wonderful, although it still needs a little bit of garnish to improve the flavor, which they are missing. The villager does not mind parting with just a little bit of carrot to help them out, so it gets added to the soup. Another villager walks by, inquiring about the pot, and the travellers again mention their stone soup which has not reached its full potential yet. The villager hands them a little bit of seasoning to help them out. More and more villagers walk by, each adding another ingredient. Finally, a delicious and nourishing pot of soup is enjoyed by all. - from Wikipedia
This story touched me very early on about the opportunity that co-operation and collaboration can provide, it can be a transformative force for communities of people who are willing to find new ways to solve problems.

Now there is evidence that cooperation is part of human evolution, and even though there are motivations based on competition that are innate and natural, there are also just as natural and important drives related to co-operation that were formed as part of human evolution.
Innate human propensities for cooperation with strangers, shaped during the Pleistocene in response to rapidly changing environments, could have provided highly adaptive social instincts that more recently coevolved with cultural institutions; although the biological capacity for primate sociality evolved genetically, the authors propose that channeling of tribal instincts via symbol systems has involved a cultural transmission and selection that continues the evolution of cooperative human capacities at a cultural rather than genetic level — and pace. - from Genetic and Cultural Evolution of Cooperation, Peter Hammerstein, MIT Press
Howard Rheingold has been socializing this concept for years. It is mostly an idea about the future of emergence in human society, and although our society has competitive drivers it also has cooperation as a new driver in our societal evolution. The basic idea is that while Darwin's Theory of Natural Selection in the animal kingdom has the tendency to infer that competition is a primary driver for behaviors, it may have actually been responsible for helping us evolve into using cooperation to give us a evolutionary advantage over other animals. Competition is not always the best way for humans to survive, in fact it may be going the way of the DoDo.

Local, to really work, will need to rely on the concept of cooperation because local is about communities of people, not individual companies (which is why you will hear of hyper-local being dead in the VC set). We will need to band together to solve our own "collective action problem", this problem is the building of an infrastructure for sustainability of our local culture, and we will thrive by thinking together and working together.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Why The Giants Will Fail @Hyperlocal

Just been reading a few excellent blog posts about local at UTNE, Culture Spy and GRIST and I ran across this most excellent image...

Not sure what Citibank thinks Locovore means... but I'm pretty sure it doesn't involve banking at a gi-normous multinational bank or eating cupcakes....
from Culture Spy
This is not the first time I have seen this type of thing. Citgo also hilariously failed with mockery and insults at this type of maneuver. At GRIST they were read the riot act.

Citgo: “Local. Loyal. Like it should be.” The crop of new billboards from the petroleum company owned by Hugo Chavez’s Venezuelan government makes sense only if the rather undemocratic president lives around the corner from you. Which he doesn’t.
This is the most humorous fail by the nationals and multi-nationals, that they think that they can localwash their way into hyperlocal. Whether its the criticism of national HUFPOST/AOL owned hyper-local content aggregator Patch seems to be stretching the definition of local, or the failure of national media chains that experiment with hyper-local like The Washington Post, once again Goliath in armor with spear is envious of David's stone.

This is the basic point, and rebranding or changing the name of your district office won't change this. Local is not something you will be able to market yourself as and actually remain a large company. Local doesn't, and can't be marketed. Local is the word of mouth about the best place to go, the place where you actually love what the people do. Its about actually loving and caring about the place you are. Its not a market, its life. This is why you hear about large companies failing at local time and time again, its because they just aren't part of the community!

So to succeed at local a company must look at the problem differently. If you aren't going to actually try to really participate in the community, to be active and contribute, you have to provide an eco-system for a large community of people who are. Provide a platform that enables that community of trusted members to collaborate, share in the love of the place they live. It must be authentic too, you have to really want to help them, because these people can smell a fake a mile away.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Why We Trust Local Voices

One of my favorite local blogs is Our Oakland, written by @DIYGene, is exactly the kind of local publisher we want to help have a voice. I love how Gene honestly explores the city. Each place he goes he talks about it like its a fresh discovery. As he explores the signage of miss Pearl's Jam house, or explains the flavors and sights of our local wineries, he makes them feel like I am explorer on a journey through places I have never been.

Sometimes Gene is just talking about what he saw at a place or a picture that he took, sometimes he shares his honest opinion about the subject itself:

I have to admit being somewhat conflicted about zoos. On one hand, a good zoo can teach people a lot about animals and preserving the habitats necessary to support those animals. And most kids love zoos, at least for a certain age range. On the other hand, even a good zoo has the animals captive, and at best they live in an approximation of their natural habitats. In any event, Oakland has a pretty nice zoo.

from Our Oakland Zoo Review June 21, 2011

The honesty of that voice resonates, and its clear that the interest is based on the purity of that interest for its own sake. That's the thing people want from local, honest voices they can trust. When reading how fun the Random Party was at Linden Street Brewery it makes me thirsty and I am suddenly interested in drinking Adam's beer right now.

Genuineness is the best form of sales. My father sold people their first homes, and he told me that sales wasn't about lying about stuff so people will buy it, its about telling the truth and helping people find stuff they actually like. All being shill does is make people mistrust your authority and decrease you value as a referrer. When I see that you have genuine interest in something that creates value in you as a referrer for that which you have interest. You are singing the gospel of local, and advertising it as something that has worth.

To be perfectly clear this is all about local advertising. Our Oakland, is a form of local advertising, it just a more honest kind that feels better to your heart and brain. Its yummier local advertising because it comes from a place of integrity. Local advertising is transforming, every merchant has 1100 dollars that they were using on traditional forms of local advertising like yellow pages and newspaper. Where are they going to find the best value as this eventually transform to digital? Is it Yelp with the 456 strong wall of opinions? Is that expertise you can trust? Is it Groupon, where the Merchant bears the brunt of "the offer" and may not get any loyal customers at all? The place where they should advertise is where they can tell their story, people can fall in love with what they do, and become long term "patrons".

I think it's honest voices like Genes that people crave as grass roots advertising. People crave these voices because when its a local enthusiast, it resonates with their own love for a place. Local voices matter not just because they allow for a common thread and identity, they are also a product people trust and want.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Fighting for Local

Fencing duelJust read an interesting article over at on a case study about foursquare mayorships, ad-hoc deals based on them, and how The Green House Tavern Restaurant in Cleveland managed to increase their bottom line just by offering the "employee discount" to the foursquare mayor.

This is one of those success stories that really helps the businesses understand why these technologies and approaches can help their business. Really. One thing that really rings interesting is this, when asked if they used any of the merchant tools the answer was, no.

Do you use any of the tools that Foursquare provides, like the merchants’ dashboard?
You know what, I tried to last year and I didn’t get the greatest response from it. I have been trying to change our special for a while because we’re opening another restaurant and I want to incorporate the two for check-ins, but I haven’t been able to successfully. So, I don’t know if I’m just not doing it right, but we don’t use it.
I can understand why, the reason this program worked is because it was simple, low touch and took very little maintenance from the merchant. We should remember that. Here is a very successful use of the game to drive business and foursquare didn't have any traction on the merchant tools. Lesson learned: dont invest in merchant tools.

While I find it really interesting that a fight for mayor broke out just because of a discount, I think people will fight even harder when that gaming ethic is tied to being a contributor to the growth and wellfare of the community. Let's make contributing to the our local economies a game with rewards! People love to compete, the only difference is when it can be quantified and socialized to help our society a whole new possibility emerges.

image attribution by uwdigitalcollections

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Welocally Volunteering

Ever wanted to make a difference in your community and also be a part of a start-up that is using cutting edge technologies like SpringMVC 3.0 Android SDK, Rules Based AI, GeoLocation, and Social integrations using restful web services? WeLocally is a Oakland based start-up that is using cutting edge approaches to help local Oakland businesses thrive. For the last year WeLocally has been experimenting with location based gaming, and is now working with local businesses and blogs to help local experts reach out to Oakland residents using mobile applications. We have some big plans that are starting right here with the community owned, small businesses you love to go to. Don't like chains? Here is your chance to give our Oakland local businesses a fighting chance with our advanced technologies.

We are looking for people who know how to build great applications that people will love, and who also want to be a part of something meaningful. This is not charity work, but we do have a strict volunteer first policy, with the hope that we can transition volunteer contributors into founders.

Who we are looking for:
  • Will do ANY job. Doing over planning.
  • Won't give up.
  • Doesn't need to be managed.
  • Intelligence, Drive, Integrity
  • Vests

Got any of these skills? Drop us a line...

  • Spring3/Java Web Applications
  • WordPress & PHP
  • HTML5/JQuery
  • Photoshop and Design
  • Android/ObjectiveC
  • Social Media, SEO, Twitter and Blogging
  • Business Development

Let's go help local thrive!

image attribution: Dan Ranmarch

What is WeLocally?

WeLocally is a platform for local, we want to help local thrive. It helps publishers tie their expert knowledge about places, news and events to specific locations. It allows local merchants talk about their local stories and provide great offers by location. And it helps locally minded patrons find these great sources of content and deals all in a single mobile location based solution.

Local is becoming more important to many consumers who care about keeping their money inside of the community and WeLocally helps create a marketplace for that local exchange of value...

  • Publishers - We create a mobile branded solution that localizes your content and.
  • Merchants - We let you publish your offers and participate in the local buying game.
  • Patrons - We give you a fun and social way to participate in the local economy and get great deals right where you are.
Over the next few months we are expecting some important announcements. Make sure to subscribe to our mailing list to keep informed about what is happening with welocally!