Monday, October 18, 2010

The Social Web, Caribbean Style

We congregate where there are necessities like food.  Or spiritual revival.  Or entertainment.  Or commerce.

A common trait shared by these physical gathering points is social interaction, and the resulting access to information, insight and discourse.  Most experience a greater sense of personal fulfillment by participating in even the most mundane life experiences with others.

How does this translate to online behavior? 

This issue was top of mind as I strolled through Nassau in the Bahamas last week on vacation with my family.  Crowded on the sidewalk in front of office buildings, in alleys and on side streets were groups of young men toting computer laptops and smart phones.

None were interested in striking up a conversation about their social media participation.  However, I was able to glean two things from a few curt replies to my questions:

1) the masses were huddled around unprotected corporate or retail WiFi networks; and

2) while the free Internet access was a draw, the ability to text, instant message, surf the Web, etc. with friends is what kept the men there in the mid-day sun for extended lengths of time.

I've read with interest the debate about whether participation in online communities actually makes us less social.  I have yet to draw any firm conclusions on that topic, yet I did find my Bahamian experience last week telling.

For some, social media is best consumed socially.

Going online in Nassau, Bahamas.

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