Have you heard of BlockChalk?
by Matt McGee on Jan 10, 2010 in Industry
I’m somewhat intrigued by a new service that I just discovered, but has apparently been around for a while now: It’s called BlockChalk and it seems to function as a hyperlocal version of Twitter in some ways, but maybe with elements of Gowalla/Foursquare and even some Craigslist mixed in. Like I said, it’s an interesting idea.
With BlockChalk, you use your mobile phone to leave anonymous messages (“chalks”) about your neighborhood. The service says it has users in almost 100 countries and more than 7,000 cities.
There’s no signup required and, as the video shows, your exact location details aren’t revealed … which, to my mind, limits the overall functionality at least a bit. But maybe not much. I’m not a fan of the anonymity part — that seems like an invitation for potential abuse.
The posting of messages is obviously reminiscent of Twitter, but unlike Twitter, the “chalks” don’t disappear as part of a timeline; the service is more like a bulletin board in that sense. The automatic pinning of messages to a location is Gowalla/Foursquare-esque. And depending on how your neighborhood peers are using BlockChalk, it could serve as a Craigslist-type service, too, with messages about local items for sale, etc.
What’s It Have to Do with Hyperlocal Blogging?
If you happen to have a fair amount of BlockChalk users in your neighborhood, I could see it serving at least three functions for local bloggers:
- Making connections with your neighbors, who are potential readers of your blog.
- Finding local content for your blog by reading what others are “chalking.”
- Promoting your blog by leaving a “chalk” when you publish new posts (just like you’re probably already doing with Twitter).
I just downloaded the new iPhone app and it appears I’m the first person in my hometown to have done so; not a surprise at all on that. But maybe you can get a sense of what it offers by poking around some of the web-based archives, like Brooklyn, NY or San Francisco, CA.