02 October 2008

Google Gets It Right Again


I've been meaning to post about this for a while. I'm pretty sure I've already started a draft to something of this effect over at Facebook but then I saw something on Google's Blog that was spot on. As someone who recently moved and is wanting to know what is going on in my friends' lives then I can entirely relate to what they are saying:

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.

And they are right, Facebook and such have the Twitter functionality of micro-updates but, despite the fact I laughed at Twitter when I saw it, it makes such a difference. When I read about little things they begin forming a big picture of what is happening and it keeps me that little closer to them. No one would email or call people to tell them about such minor things but it makes such a big difference.

I might not have been able to go to Utopia in Edinburgh but seeing a bunch of peoples' statuses about getting ready before the event; comments after the event and the collection of pictures and videos managed to keep me connected to their lives in ways that an email from a couple of them stating they had a good time never could have. Though seeing events like that, or a lovely friend's video recording of people saying little messages at Southport, bring up such a strange mix of happiness and sadness (sadness at not being there, I guess). It's a lovely thing though.

So basically, I ♡ the social web and I'm looking forward to the future of it.

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