A new neighbor has moved into an old house in the 'hood, renovated the place and promises to be part of the community -- going to PTA meetings, Little League games, community centers and talking to local activists. But the guy you know and love will still come back and visit. Vienna, Virginia's Backfence has acquired Dan Gillmor's Bayosphere, garnering further citizen-media cred and a new market! Susan Mernit scooped the blogosphere yesterday morning, beating even the press release and Dan himself to the news. The Mercury News offered full coverage, with no fewer than three items.
We have to admit, we like the new look, and based on their other "hyperlocal" sites in Reston, McLean and Arlington in Virginia and Bethesda in Maryland, there's a definite polish to their approach. And they're not kidding when they say hyperlocal: the lead story for Arlington right now is about a play by students visiting from the Duke Ellington School for the Arts in Washington, D.C. At the Reston site, a poll asks folks to rate the leading issues in the community, where folks are assured there's no 'runaway problem' with housing prices, while another poster decries growing slums where you can "See the gang members spray painting the neighborhood and smoking dope on the tot lots." Man, Reston sounds a lot tougher than we remember.
In that vein, they'll be starting in Palo Alto and expanding to other local communities in the next few months, according to Dan. With Weblogs, Inc. (owned by AOL in Reston) starting another "blog farm" empire in Blogging Ohio, there seems to be some competition brewing in serving the upscale suburban demographic. Let's just hope they don't go the way of certain television news stations and free fish wraps. With only 10 employees, Backfence's costs must be pretty low. And while terms of the deal haven't been disclosed, Pierre Omidyar's Omidyar Network (which funded both Bayosphere and Backfence) wins in the wash, and we hope Mitch Kapor and the Bayosphere crew recouped their costs in the rinse.
We're glad Dan is working with old friends and that Bayosphere users in Palo Alto will have a local forum for their community. SFist is looking forward to updating our RSS feeds from down the Caltrain line, especially rough-and-tumble local politics -- you just know one of those peninsula towns has a philandering mayor, pill-popping comptroller or something equally salacious!