Joi posted a really interesting thought today. (The juicy part is after the "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" quote.)
The point I sense he's trying to make has to do with how social software (to be specific, web- and cellphone-based expression, communication and social networking tools), which essentially allows for very easy community building by anyone, has at least one very positive side-effect: self empowerment (for lack of a better term coming to mind just now).
Depending on individual personalities of course, weblogging alone makes it really quite easy to start being involved in a community. That starts connections in the real world via such things as, for example, monthly weblogger meetups. Online, one starts posting to weblogs of peopel with similar interests, etc, and bonds are very easily created. In professional circles, one may be incited to attend a conference or presentation one would otherwise not heard of or felt qualified/"worthy" to attend. (In my case, SxSW and the 1IMC.)
Being a regular on Joi's IRC channel, #joiito, has had similar effect for me. A chance to discuss with peers, as equals, on far ranging topics, has not only elevated my feeling of worth, but has also helped my people skills tremendously. That's not to say I was "bad" with such things before, but i have definitely grown as a person, partly because of it (and partly because of "real world" experiences as well of course; some occurring because of weblogging/chatting and some not).
Previous to all this, my only online social interaction was with a small group of friends via IM and email. Though I solidified some great friendships (and very sadly totally failed one) via IM and email, it was totally contained, non-expansive, limited in some ways. This of course is part and parcel with the nature of the technology, and does not fall into the aforementioned category of "social software".
Joi continues with:
"I know that we've had tools for awhile now and online communities are not a new thing, but I think the barrier to entry continues to decline and the tools keep getting better".
Absolutely, and I agree with Marc Canter
on the subject, sort of. I take issue with part of his statement:
"create end-user experiences that so rock the house, that business models are the last thing we think about"
Marc, while yes user-experience is pa-ra-mount, a thoroughly thought out and well designed business model will see the thing survive and thrive. If not business model than at least some form of well planned (designed?) short-term goals. Don't get me wrong, I much prefer thinking of user-experience, but we have to keep all elements of a thing in mind.
The entry finishes with:
"I'm also quite interested in how this relates to mobile phones. hmm... "
Hmm indeed. Mobile phone address books/buddy lists, ubiquitous, though unintrusive, availability and connectivity (remember we are talking text-messaging and not voice calls) (and Mimi
wrote a very interesting paper on the subject
), and of course moblogs: the gateway to all the goodies of web-based social activities and endeavors.
This is everything I want to, and will be, totally into. Thank you, weblogging, for allowing me to allow myself to.