I can’t help but think that as the cost of transport continues to rise, the importance of the internet in our everyday lives, and interactions within our local communities will increase. We are increasingly shopping online, chatting online and getting up-to-date online. But this is typically with people far away; or at least outside our neighbourhoods. But, as shipping becomes more expensive that ebay item may not be such good value for money, and perhaps it would be better to use the concentrating power of the internet to shop locally.
This is slowly happening in some senses, but locally based internet sites are typically special interest, or splintered into many, many badly run and maintained operations. Currently, in a lot of places there is not the concentration, and therefore the economy of scale to do this properly.
I’m sure the OSS movement will be the one to step in here, as in the community building domains OSS reigns supreme… so eyes open for the next big thing.