Think Glocal! Digital Media and Communities

In recent years, we’ve seen the rise of the “digital nomad”, leading an independent lifestyle that combines a career with the freedom to travel and work anywhere in the world. Yet in opening up the world to us, the internet has also been seen as fostering a lack of social cohesion with us interacting remotely in our own digital bubbles.

16 Sep 2014

by Aurelia Havet

According to a survey conducted last year by Churchill home insurance, a third of us cannot recognise our next-door neighbours with 36 per cent of residents unable to pick their immediate neighbours out in a line-up or if they met them in the street. Moreover, 51 per cent of people cannot recall the first name of their neighbour and seven in 10 are unaware of their full names. Perhaps because of this, digital media is now being used to forge a new sense of community in a variety of ways.

Websites such as Streetlife have been creating “Social Local Networks”, raising local issues and connecting nearby residents, groups, organisations and businesses, in the belief that better connected neighbours build stronger communities. Organisations such as the Media Trust are supporting initiatives to help communities utilise digital media.

Think Glocal Digital Media and Communities

The Brixton Pound is one of the local currency schemes forging a sense of community

Some communities have even created their own local currencies. Bristol’s Pound is a local currency scheme that has been running since 2012, building on such pioneers as Totnes (2007) and Brixton (2009). For the creators of the Brixton Pound: “A local currency reinforces shopping at independent businesses, which are more likely to source local supplies, use nearby services, and employ local people. It’s money that sticks to Brixton, and makes it a better place to live and shop.”

Success in Brixton has encouraged other cities across Europe and the United States to adopt local currencies. Since July 2014, hundreds of businesses in Brixton have become part of the first real-world network for mobile payments and a pay-by-text service. Success in Brixton has encouraged other cities across Europe and the US to adopt local currencies.

And when brands are thinking about the global market, they too are thinking at a more local level, adapting their products and services to the culture in which they are sold and reaching a specific audience through digital media. “Think global, act local” has become the mantra for companies with global aspirations.

So where once digital media was seen as isolating ourselves, it’s now providing a real opportunity to foster a sense of belonging where we live, and experience again the joys of thinking glocal!

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