Ambient awareness

What an interesting read about the Brave New World of Digital Intimacy, about using and consuming all that social software tools like Facebook or Twitter out there in the digital world:

Social scientists have a name for this sort of incessant online contact. They call it “ambient awareness.” It is, they say, very much like being physically near someone and picking up on his mood through the little things he does — body language, sighs, stray comments — out of the corner of your eye.

I have currently 642 contacts on XING, I follow 81 people on Twitter. I have accounts on Facebook, Plazes, LinkedIn, Plaxo and many other services I don’t use anymore or not on a regular base. In most cases I am linked to one physical person in more than one social networks. Every morning I see who is now connected to whom in XING. I realize while I am starting the day who posted a new blog entry or uploaded new pictures to Flickr. I see exactly those friends boarding planes on Plazes or feeling sick on Twitter. And I share my daily life with the people who follow me.

How can I explain all that to my parents? They will never understand why people like me share daily experiences and thoughts on blogs – or in every detail on Twitter.

For many people — particularly anyone over the age of 30 — the idea of describing your blow-by-blow activities in such detail is absurd. Why would you subject your friends to your daily minutiae? And conversely, how much of their trivia can you absorb? The growth of ambient intimacy can seem like modern narcissism…

I had my doubts about Twitter too. Remember, I am „over 30“. But when I dived into the Twitter world it was addictive like it was years ago entering the world of blogs or the social networks like XING:

Merely looking at a stranger’s Twitter or Facebook feed isn’t interesting, because it seems like blather. Follow it for a day, though, and it begins to feel like a short story; follow it for a month, and it’s a novel.

So Twitter and all the other „news feeds“ have become the ambient noise in the background of my business and private life. I learn a lot about my contacts. And I let my contacts look into my life – as far as I am willing to write about my life. I definetly do not have more friends now – I mean real friends. This social software thing is not about making new friends. It is about getting to know the people I am working with or talking to – and the people I want to work with in the future. Some of them might become friends when we realize we share the same interests and the same values – or the same contacts.

A great article. It made something clear for me. I couldn´t explain many of the experiences even if I am living in that world for years. So who is interested and „over 30“, read this article over here on New York Times Magazine.

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