Radar from Outside.in: online tool tells you what's going on around you in the real world

Steven "Ghost Map" Johnson's location-based software project Outside.in just launched Radar, a fascinating tool for visualizing and taking action on the stuff happening near you.
Radar, as the name would suggest, organizes the news in dynamic, concentric circles around you. First it looks for news immediately around you, within 1000 feet. Then it searches for stories in your neighborhood. Then, in your city. And if you’re out in the middle of the desert somewhere, where there are no neighborhoods or cities, it will just keep on going until it finds something, then will ping it back to you. Just like the real thing.

What I like about Radar is that it drastically reduces the work involved in finding out what’s going on around you. No more sifting through various pages to find things near you that are interesting, no more scrolling down hundreds of lines of ledes to find the one story that catches your eye. The whole landscape of local online content is laid out before you in one simple cascade of headlines, along with their corresponding topics and places. It’s the easiest way around to get the goods on your local scene.

You can even take this whole ‘what’s interesting around me’ idea one step further, by specifying which places and topics are of particular interest to you. The feature will make note of that and call special attention to stories about those topics and places as they come on to your page.

Then, once you’ve set your Radar for your specific location and the topics/places that interest you, you can create an alert, to receive instant notification of things going on around you.

Add to this the neighbor alerts feature, which allows everyone to write directly and immediately to the pages of people in their area, and Radar becomes a total readable/writeable local content solution.

Link (via Stevin Berlin Johnson)

See also: Steven Johnson launches outside.in


  1. Pretty useless. The only ‘news’ it found for my area was a bunch of linux user group meetings and an article from november 2007 about some politicos deciding not to protest students using their college address to register as voters.

  2. LBS are here to stay. In a few years GPS capabilities will be practically standard on every cell phone.

    Loopt is a social network that uses location to help you connect with your friends (facebook on wheels maybe)

    Another use of LBS is using the wisdom of wireless crowds. Having sensors on phones and tracking UV light, pollution, traffic, etc.

  3. alas, usefulness depends on where you live.
    in my neck of the woods Radar provided me with an obituary from 2 years ago.

  4. Now-defunct chat program Meetro utilized this concept for social networking beginning several years ago.

  5. Thanks for the link Cory, and thanks everyone for the heads-up on the registration page.

    Radar will definitely be a bit thin is some areas at this early stage – we’re totally aware of that, but decided to launch everywhere in the U.S. anyway, even in those thin areas. We figured that the thin experience would still be more interesting to people than seeing a splash page telling them Radar was coming soon to their area.

    And there will be more content in your Radar soon. This week we are starting a campaign to find more and more types of location-based content and get it into our system. So if Radar is thin in your area at the moment, expect to see a lot more stories coming in over the next several months.

    And in my neighborhood meanwhile, (Boerum Hill, Brooklyn) there are several stories within 1000 feet of my apartment just from the past day or two, all of which are pretty interesting to me. In many cities around the U.S., that’s the experience of Radar on day one. If that isn’t the case in your town, it should be soon.

    John Geraci
    co-founder, outside.in

  6. Narual, you must live in a dull neighborhood. I got a bunch of hits for my area in Brooklyn (and also a couple of false hits for Fordham University).

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