AUSTIN -- You log onto Facebook to stay in touch with your friends and use Twitter to share your thoughts, so it only makes sense to use a social networking site to connect with the people living right next door.
Nextdoor.com allows you to do just that. It is a free website that has private neighborhood pages. Once you verify your address by mail or credit card, you can start sharing information with your neighbors.
"Like finding a recommendation for a plumber or a babysitter. It can be something as personal as reporting a lost pet or something as critical as reporting suspicious activity or a rash of break-ins," said Nextdoor Co-Founder Sarah Leary.
The website has taken off in the Agave neighborhood of Central East Austin. The trendy homeowners there, including Tuscan Knox, were among the first in the country to use the website.
"I think people get so comfortable these days with, you know, Facebook friending and just emailing people, I actually think some people are kind of intimidated though about walking up to someone's door and knocking on it," said Knox.
Now he and his neighbors are not only knocking on each others doors, they're hosting parties, sharing pictures and looking out for each other.
The number of Nextdoor users in the Agave neighborhood went from zero to 30 in one week, and now about 18 months later, there are 210 of these neighbors connected, plus thousands more people using the website all over Austin and the country.
"Started with about 170 neighborhoods across the country, and since that time we've grown to over 9,200 neighborhoods," said Leary.
"Because it makes it so easy for you to do the basic communication, I think people begin to feel that responsibility to start engaging," added Knox.
Leary will be in Austin Saturday March 9 to speak on a South By Southwest panel about social networking. It will be at the Sheraton Hotel at 3:30 p.m.