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Podunk Towns Hit the Web

Thursday, March 1st 2001
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Adena Schutzberg takes a look at ePodunk, a company that’s attempting to breathe new life into smaller geographies.

ePodunk attempts to breathe new life into smaller geographies.This site "celebrates the cultural diversity and heritage of America's 28,000 home towns." The people behind it are all journalists: a former director of new media for the Detroit Free Press, a former editor-in-chief of American Demographics, a former multimedia editor of The New York Times on the Web and a former publisher of Marketing Tools and advertising director of American Demographics.The site boasts that it was built by hand (whatever that means) and includes offbeat content such as well-known residents and movies that were filmed in the area.

They've also listed "top towns" in each state, basing their outcome upon the proportion of each county's population who stayed in the same residence for 5-year periods, and other statistics.

The company plans on making money by licensing it findings."Our information is designed for licensed use by companies trying to capture the local market.This information is designed to be 'plugged into' existing sites and wireless services, as a complement to travel information, maps, weather forecasts, Web site directories and other information about place."

Visitors are invited to contribute and correct information for towns with which they are familiar.Given that detailed information about 28,000 small towns is a pretty tall order, this is probably the only way that ePodunk could even hope to add a substantial and significant amount of content.

Out of curiosity, I looked up my hometown of Winchester, MA.I read that it was named after William P.Winchester (which I learned in 4th grade), was on the Aberjona River (also 4th grade), its population (though not what year the data is from) and the average January and July temperatures. All the information is readily available elsewhere.Missing was any mention of the town's Nobel Prize winner, Allan Cormack or famous clarinetist, Richard Stoltzman.

A bigger "town," Chicago, gets a bit more coverage, but nothing earth shattering or unavailable in a decent encyclopedia or almanac.

ePodunk will need to clearly distinguish its offering to pull in potential users of its data.One suggestion: offer an incentive for Podunk natives to contribute content.At this time the site has a ways to go to truly be on the map.

Press release: ePodunk Taps the Power of Place



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