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Amit Gupta wrote about social serendipity today, and it feels like we’ve got a landslide of that going on here at Penn State, though much closer to home than his examples (he’s the guy behind Photojojo, for those not familiar).

As my follow list on Twitter grows, I’m finding more and more amazing, knowledgeable people out there who “get it,” in the words of one of those folks, who it just so happens I got to meet for lunch today.

And the give-and-take of that community, online and off, has been amazing. You end up tapping into the collective knowledge of a ton of experts, as long as you’re willing to wait for an answer.

This has happened to me before, in other forums and communities, but this is as close to home as it’s come. And while it’s really cool to have connections wherever you might need them–an online shout-out for info about Buffalo a couple months ago turned up online friends that I didn’t know were out there, for example–having them right in your backyard is amazing.

I mean, hey. Impromptu lunches are a possibility, even.

But it does cost attention. Design for Emotion and Flow describes this really well in the second paragraph of the article. The rest is no less important, but it’s unrelated to my point here.

There’s a point of balance that I think most of us are still trying to find in this newfound community:

  • how to give and take equally to one’s network;
  • how to enjoy oneself and others evenly;
  • how to find a sympathetic ear to vent without alienating others;
  • where “no invitation [is] required” and crashing the party;
  • expansion of connections and input overload;
  • “value” of contribution and “just being yourself.”

Some of this, no one has talked about at much length. But I’m feeling it out there. And it’s something we all have to work through. Personally, I worked out some of this by dividing my Twitter presence into personal and professional. Folks I meet at conferences may get one or the other depending on the context.

Some folks have made parts of this problem quite plain: Shannon posted two videos to explain why she might “unfollow” someone on Twitter. Other bits of this are way more unspoken.

It’s exciting to me that these new modes of being create new problems, bizarrely enough. It means we’re progressing, expanding. Perhaps not in a geologic time sense, but significant nonetheless.

I’m looking forward to solving these problems for myself and seeing what they mean on the grander scale, especially as re-localization becomes a trend.


Twitter Updates

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  • @elizallen_ Intensely feeling this, after my dog’s voice made a few uninvited appearances in usability testing today. 2 days ago

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