Twitter and Online Community

This morning my friend Connie Crosby tripped and sprained her ankle.  Connie, a former law librarian and now independent social media consultant, mentioned it on Twitter.  Within minutes, half a dozen friends responded with sympathy (“owie! owie! sorry to hear this. hope you recover quickly“) and advice (“perhaps selfmedication is in order! wine or beer before noon is allowed under these circumstances.”) I first met Connie online, through her blog, and developed a friendship with her through her frequent guest appearances on the Check This Out! Podcast before we first met in person at a Podcasters Meetup in Toronto over three years ago.

A little later this morning, I exchanged a series of chat messages with another law librarian friend who has accepted a new job and wanted me to suggest some names of librarians to recommend as his replacement.  This was yet another law librarian friend I first met online (first through his blog, then through Twitter) whom I might not otherwise have encountered, but who has become a good friend (and part of my Fantasy Law Library team.)

I’ve just come back from lunch with my partner Kristina Lively, who is also webmaster for University at Buffalo Law School. Kristina and I first met in Second Life, and after a few months of chatting for hours online–and falling in love–we met in real life at her then home in Washington DC.  A few months later Kristina moved to Buffalo, where we share our life and work with our colleagues and friends.  We spent part of our lazy Saturday afternoon together planning the next Buffalo Tweetup, an almost-monthly opportunity for folks in the Buffalo area who happen to use Twitter and other social media to get together for drinks and conversation.

Two weeks ago Kristina and I spent the weekend at the Niagara on the Lake Podcasting and Social Media Meetup with our old friends Connie Crosby, Keith Burtis, Mark Blevis, Wayne MacPhail, and new friends John Meadows, Bill Deys, Sean McGaughey, and others–all people we first met online.

In just over three weeks Kristina and I will be going to Podcamp Montreal, where (at last count) 267 social media users from all over Canada (and a handful of Americans), all of whom know each other through podcasts, blogs, and Twitter, will be getting together to share ideas and simply to have fun.

Can someone explain to me how all of this constitutes an “imagined community,” and how it lacks “the subtleties of types of connection possible in the meat world”?

(Cross-posted at Out of the Jungle.)

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About James G. Milles

Professor of Law, SUNY Buffalo Law School

Posted on August 25, 2008, in Podcasts, Social networking, Technology, Twitter. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. I think the commenter is distinguishing between situations where the online community is supplemented by real life interaction vs. an online only community. The former certainly has many useful purposes, such as the ones you outlined. However, the latter are often places where reality doesn’t factor much into the picture, ranging from online relationships that would never work if the individuals would actually have to live with each other in person, up to and including ones that turn unwitting participants into part of identity theft rings.

  2. The social medias that are taking over the internet are incredible. It makes networking as easy as a click and can take you anywhere in the world with a little research. This just makes me wonder, what’s next for socia media?

  3. With the technology advancing so rapidly and everyone jumping on board for the social medias, it’s only matter of time when everything we do will relate through the internet. We will be networking for business as well as personal satisfaction. It all started way back when AOL came out with instant messaging. I think meeting people is going to whole different level. Now days, we can meet people all over the world just with the internet. We don’t have to meet face to face, but if we wanted to, we would know the person because of social media. It’s amazing how technology changed the perspective of living. I am with Lonna as I wonder myself, what’s next for social media?

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