While the term “ambient intimacy” still feels a hair creepy to me, I guess I’m starting to see the point.
Like all right-thinking people, I’ve followed Techdirt for years, and over the past couple of years Mike Masnick and I have exchanged a number of emails on various topics. I suppose I vaguely assumed that sooner or later I’d run into Mike in person somewhere along the line, but we’re just email acquaintances who share some interests, you know? There was no specific reason that we would plan to meet, so I never really gave it much thought.
Then last week I wondered aloud — via twitter — how much Mamoun’s falafel my father and I have eaten together over the past 36 years. Four days and an assortment of @replies and d messages later, Mike and I are sitting in Mamoun’s, eating falafel and chatting. Without Twitter, most (if not all) of the data points below would never have been exposed:
- I am a fan of Mamoun’s falafel.
- I live in New York City.
- Mike Masnick is a fan of Mamoun’s falafel.
- Mike Masnick happens to be in New York City this week.
Kind of neat, and an excuse for me to go eat falafel while talking to a smart person, which is always a good thing.
With Twitter, as with Tumblr, there’s an interesting strain of online community floating around. If mySpace is the ugly side of objective-free explicitly social software, maybe these “tools for creating user-defined community” are the up side of the deal. In both cases you build your own community (and therefore your experience of the tool) entirely based on who you follow — there’s no single “there” there (though I mean that in the best possible sense).
While I’m not yet clear on how this plays out on any grander scale (what happens when, with greater numbers of users, the volume of data flowing through makes users more inclined to limit input to only source they already know?) it’s a lot more fun than I expected to be along for the ride.