Topics as Locations: Physical Location vs. Virtual Location

There are many people who get very excited about local search… — and so do I; but only a very few think about location in a way that could be described as even just remotely similar to the way I think about it.

For most people, location is a place you go. For work, they go to some kind of business location or some so-called “office space”. The might work shifts at a factory, they might grab something to eat at a coffee shop or corner deli, sleep at home and so on. Most people who get excited about “local search” want to guide suckers into buying something as they move from place to place. I don’t have anything against that idea — it’s just that I don’t find it particularly exciting.

What I find exciting is being on the same page. Although a big part of that has to do the words and languages we use to communicate with one another, it also important to underscore that words are puzzle pieces — and therefore only small bits of a much greater mosaic. One word alone actually has little or no meaning whatsoever. It is the way a word is used (and the context in which the word is used) that gives it meaning.

Each context has its own vocabulary — it’s own jargon. Many people consider jargon to be a “negative” term, but I think that is mainly because they are uncomfortable with thinking about language as a context-dependent phenomenon. For example, few people would consider the phrase “I do” to be a very specific jargon term in the context of marriage ceremonies.

Instead, the vast majority of people prefer a simpleton view that one word has one meaning — regardless of context. These are the kind of people you will reach if you advertise your products and services on a one-size fits all search engine like google.com — and if you do, then this will be the community you choose to interact and “do business” with.

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