The People Make the Party

April 12, 2007 at 8:19 am | Posted in Attention Management, collaboration, communication, social software, virtual worlds, Web 2.0 | Leave a comment

 Reading a few postings on Twitter lately (such as this one on /Message ) I was reminded of a consistent piece of party planning advice I’ve seen many times.  Despite all the technical details about seating (assigned seating? let people sit where they want? force them to stand?), themes, and how structured to make the evening, they always mention that who you invite to the party is the most important factor in success.  I’ll define a successful party as one where people having a good time and/or getting something out of it such as business or social connections.  If the people you invite mesh well and have something to say, it makes all the difference.

I think the same applies to collaborative and social technologies as well.  Is Twitter a good technology that plugs one into a social network with disarming simplicity or a bad technology that mirrors our tendency to want to be connected whether it matters or not?  Like a good party, Stowe Boyd points out it is who your “friends” are that matters, not the technology.  Show what a set of people who are not at all like you, uninteresting to you, or maybe even just plain dumb are doing on the technology and one can paint Twitter to look pretty bad.  Show what a set of interesting, thoughtful people that have similar interests to you are doing and it paints a more favorable picture. 

The same could be said of virtual worlds like SecondLife, blogs, wikis, bookmarking, and tagging as well.  They are judged too often by the functional aspects of the technology because those are readily apparent, rather than what truly matters which is who is using them and how.  All these technologies provide different takes on the infrastructure for social interaction, but it’s the users that make the party.

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