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Returning to the Village – Are you ready?

By Andrew Pollack on 01/29/2009 at 12:04 PM EST

Our nature is to live in small communities. For all of history up until the last hundred or so years, we knew the people around us fairly well. We knew what they did at work and what they did at home. We did business with friends, relatives, and other people in the village. Then we stopped. Instead of living near the people we grew up with, we live in different communities entirely. We commute to yet another community for work. In the process, we’ve built home lives and work lives. We re-invent ourselves two or three times a day now.

Along comes social software. For technical people, It started with blogs. Some of us use ours to talk about home, and some about work or a hobby. Some of us mix it up. That feels very strange at first – and that’s where it gets interesting. Facebook accelerates the process for those less technically inclined. Suddenly our coworkers know about our families. Our kids can see how we interact with our friends and our coworkers. The differences are stronger for some than for others. I’ve you’ve got a facebook page and a personal blog the differences between your work and home self is probably less than most. You spend less time pretending and more time just being.

If you stick with facebook long enough, you’ll find there’s a sort of critical-mass moment where your connections combine. Think of separate drops of mercury on the counter suddenly contacting each other and becoming one larger drop. That attracts more drops like gravity and pretty quickly all your disparate communities merge. Does that make you uncomfortable, or are you ready to rejoin the village?

Rejoining the village means the people you do business with know about your home life. It means the people you hang out with have a sense for what you do. It also means if you treat someone badly at work, you can’t isolate it to work. You have to start being committed to being the same person all the time. Its going to be harder for some people than for others – are you ready?

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re: Returning to the Village u2013 Are you ready?By Susan Bulloch on 01/29/2009 at 02:57 PM EST
Thanks for putting this out here Andrew - we talked about it at LS09. I find
that the older I get, the more I am just me - not 'work me' or 'play me' or
even 'none of your business me' (although the latter does still exist).

Facebook has given family I rarely see, school mates I haven't seen in 30 years
and people I just met access to the information I care to share about me. It
honestly isn't completely comfortable at times, but you state it well here -
we're back to the village - where everybody knows you. I do not have a home
town, having moved as much as Army Brats do, so maybe this is the way people
feel who live their lives in one spot - I don't know.

I know that the chat circles that pop up on Skype and other places give me
access to communities that simply don't exist for a mobile worker like me.
That part is really comfortable and reassuring, even when we squabble and
gossip and swear. (Sounds like the holidays at home). These communities also
give me access to friends in other countries who can share my 'home-town'
experiences - so the village is both cozy and expansive, but at all times - I'm
the same person.

So to answer your question - yeah, I think I'm ready - I'll certainly find out.

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