meandering creativity, symbols and emotion

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Social Media as the New Cul-de-Sac

My cul-de-sac was at the bottom of a hill. Our house was at it's very tip and was surrounded by trees. The end of my street and the creek that ran behind the house was my domain. It was mostly undeveloped and ended up being the obvious choice for all of the tree climbing, fort building and war games my friends and I instigated.

Like most kids I had several circles of friends - some from the neighborhood, others from school and others from boy scouts and church. For my 11th birthday all of those circles intersected to create a venn diagram representing my world. Imagine my surprise when I found out that a church friend knew a boy scout friend! This was world changing stuff to the 11 year old me.

It reminds me James Burke's old 1970s TV show Connections. Wikipedia has a decent article about it but in case you don't feel like clicking, Burke was a science historian and would talk about all these crazy ways that desperate technology was connected.

Even if the premise sounds boring the 1970s hairstyles alone make it worth checking out! In each episode Burke draws out these elaborate connections - battle strategies by Napoleon's army lead to long spears which lead to armies traveling which lead to supply lines which lead to canned food which somehow lead to the invention of central heating and air.

Not exactly mind-blowing, but as Burke highlights each thread of connection, the larger theme appears: human interaction is one of the keys to innovation and progress.

Don't think that I can't hear you now through internet - you're asking "All of this is fine, you're feeling nostalgic and geeky but what's your point ?"

Fair enough - my point is that these cul-de-sac moments used to be few and far between and/or they'd take a wacky haired science historian for me to see them. Now they happen almost weekly!

Exhibit A: Last week I got a party invite for Jon Parker. Jon was a friend from college who I haven't seen in years. We're friends on Facebook so I was on the invite list and went. While I was there I uploaded a photo to Flickr. Someone I didn't know saw the photo on Facebook and emailed me because she recognized Jon. And it turns out she also knows my friend Mike. To clarify, Mike and Jon are in complete different parts of my venn diagram.

Or how about this: I'm downtown at the City Tavern watching a band play and I send out an updated on twitter. The next thing I know a friend calls me from the club next door, Plush, and invites me to walk next door for a quick drink.

Thanks to social media like Facebook or Myspace or Twitter - all of a sudden the connections are lining up, my world just got smaller and I'm back in my cul-de-sac. And it's good to be back.

If you've got a sec - I'd love to get your cool examples of Facebook meeting face-time!

1 comment:

  1. i love this! but i don't have any good stories like this yet to share.

    i do find it all to be connected though, and not in a new age-y way, but just in a six degrees of separation way. like now it's just three degrees, or something.