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TechSqueeze: The Less Than Neighborly Sunshine State

The other day I was driving past the Don Estridge school in Boca Raton on the way to a friend's house when it occurred to me that the Sunshine State isn't exactly neighborly. I don't mean we're a bunch of a-holes or anything, just that we don't seem to talk to each other much.

For instance, I've lived in my neighborhood for over ten years and I can't name more than three of my immediate neighbors. Most Floridians can probably name their neighbor's cars, maybe how old their kids are, but that's about as good as it gets.  Actually naming our neighbors is beyond us.

At my friend Greg's house, this was confirmed as we sat in the back by the pool and bullcrapped. I was checking tweets on my iPhone when he mentioned that his neighbor has an open Wi-Fi that he leaches all the time when he wants to surf on the DL (could only guess what that meant.)

I laughed and then realized he mentioned the neighbor, but no names. So I asked. Which neighbor?

He pointed behind him.

What's their name?  Have you told them their Wi-Fi is insecure?

I've never talked to them.

That about sums it up.

A couple of days later I talked to another friend of mine while visiting her office downtown. I mentioned the fact that a lot of us in Florida don't really know our neighbors. Of course, Linda (my friend) and I know a lot of people because we are PizzaTweetup attendees. I hold monthly pizza parties where usually sixty, maybe seventy people will converge on a pizza joint and hang out for an evening enjoying free pizza.

Most of those people, though, aren't my neighbors in a geographic sense.  Sure, they live in the tri-county area, but that's about as good as it gets.  

Linda agreed that she doesn't really know her neighbors either, but justified this by saying she hasn't lived in her new neighborhood for very long.  Talking, we came up with some solutions that we both plan to try over the next few weeks to try to drum up some neighborly love.

Since we're both tech geeks, the solutions are obviously centered on social media.

This one is obvious to anyone who is connected. The problem with it is getting your neighbors to actually know that a meetup exists. The catch-22 of marketing is always that you can have the tool, but not necessarily the means.

Our solution was to just go door to door (or box to box) leaving little printed cards with the meetup address on them. This is a great idea since a post card is about the right size and printable blanks are available at office supply stores, cheap.

Another thought was to use Twitter. With sites like LocaFollow, and NearbyTweets where you can search Twitter accounts by location, this is a great one.  Looking for people in Boca Raton, I found a couple of hundred matches.  From there, it's just a matter of following and tweeting. This would combine well with the meetups to make a good Tweet Up for a neighborhood get-together.

These are just a couple of ideas, but think about the concept for a minute. The meet could take place as a neighborhood BBQ, in a local restaurant, at the park, whatever. Try it!

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Craig Agranoff

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