All vertical villages are not alike--just look at what residents are saying on their buildings’ online bulletin boards.
“On the West Coast you’ll find more people writing recommendations about restaurants or other lifestyle things. In New York you find more ‘Type A’ postings—more evidence of people living with more time pressures,” says Jerry Kestenbaum, whose BuildingLink online communications tool is used by around 800 luxury apartment buildings in 17 states.
Looking for help to get through the day, he says, New Yorkers tend to ask neighbors for referrals to tutors, housekeepers, babysitters, and dog walkers.
They also tend to ditch more furniture and electronics online than their less space-deprived West Coast counterparts.
“The category for items for sale or being given away is used more heavily in the denser urban areas on the East Coast than when you head further west,” says Kestenbaum.
But none of that really surprises him, he says.
What he finds interesting is the different attitudes toward allowing unmoderated "opinion" postings.
“Our support people tell me that on the West Coast, people get really excited about the features that enable residents to communicate with each other directly,” says Kestenbaum.
“On the East Coast, they are more concerned about the undesirable outcomes that could happen. Not just negative consequences for the management or owners, but also negative consequences when residents start slandering people and causing trouble."
BuildingLink allows for settings to accommodate the prevailing winds on each coast, but Kestenbaum wonders if the East Coast fears may be overblown.
“If residents really want to cause a lot of trouble they wouldn’t necessarily have to restrict themselves to doing it on a site that is supervised and ultimately controlled by the property manager,” says Kestenbaum.
“They would go to Google Groups, or Yahoo or Twitter or Facebook. Some managers feel it is better to have the dialog going on in their own site, where they can see it and respond to it, than out of sight of management."
He speculates that New York property managers are generally more conservative when it comes to resident communication, and maybe for good reason.
“There’s definitely a sense that no good deed goes unpunished,” he says.