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June 06, 2009


Ton Zijlstra

Good stuff Earl. I use Twitter with a non-public account (so I get to decide who follows me). Most of the 400 people or so I am following and vice versa are people I know.

Their trivial sharing of the fact that they are having coffee, or are waiting for the bus that is late again, has real meaning and value for me. It is the type of info that you normally only get from people in close physical proximity. Your colleague down the hall is getting coffee. There are three more people at your bus stop waiting for the same delayed bus.

Seeing those messages pass by from people I know but who are geographically distant brings them closer to me. It feels closer because it is the type of info you associate with closeness precisely because of its triviality.

Earl Mardle

Thanks Ton.

Do you think there is an validity in the idea that we are also creating similar relationships among groups of people that we don't necessarily already know?

I can think of a good number of people I am happy to host in my home, or whose homes I have visited, or meals shared, whom I could never have known about, let alone known in person without starting first with these public conversations.

Ton Zijlstra

Oh yes, very much so! Our own connection and interaction over the years would be an example which would easily carry over into f2f settings, if we happen to find ourselves in geographical vicinity at some time.

When I wrote 'people I know' above, in my mind all of those type of connections are included.

It's just that I don't attach the same value to trivialities shared in Twitter by those I don't know in any other context. Twitter isn't so much a place for me to 'meet' new people, hence my non-public tweeting, but other online tools most certainly are.

My social environment exploded due to this type of interaction and relationship building. And it indeed very often results in spending time, energy and money to meet up, share a meal, visit a home etc. My life's much the richer for it.

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