Tuesday, September 16, 2008

It's all about relationships


My Kinda Town
Originally uploaded by Stuck in Customs.
While we certainly will not die without Twitter and other tools (I think), Joe Kraus at the Official Google Blog makes a pretty convincing case that all these social network tools help us remain close and enhance relationships.
What makes two friends feel "close" to one another? I'd argue that a big part of it is the small details that you know about each other. The funny comment your friend made about a billboard they saw while driving down the road, what they had for dinner, a person they ran into on the street, their comments about the movie they saw two nights before. Closeness often comes from knowing the small things, not just the big things. Distance makes knowing those small things harder. When you live together, either with your family or your friends, knowing the small things is easy. They get conveyed when passing in the hall, sitting down to a meal or just hanging out. It's effortless.

When you live apart, things change. Suddenly it takes effort. It used to take a lot more effort when writing a letter was the primary way to communicate over distance as opposed to email or IM or telephone. But, even with our current technology, it still takes work. As a result, we share less with our friends. And when we do share, we tend to share the big stuff (big shifts at work, major family events like birthdays or school milestones) and leave the small stuff behind. We start to feel less connected because we don't know the details.

The promise of the social web is about making it easy to share the small stuff -- to make it effortless and rebuild that feeling of connectedness that comes from knowing the details.
Relationships. Processes. A long-standing disagreement in my consulting world. As I have for years, I'll go with relationships... and I'll stick with using my social networking tools and encouraging others to do the same.

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