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Monday, June 13, 2005

Can virtual community be real community?

I have long been skeptical of the idea of building community online. I find myself in a minority with this view especially considering that I am a Gen-Xer and have been online since before the advent of the web. I've often held that true community requires a sense of transparency and vulnerability, which seems difficult to achieve in a online setting. By its very nature, the internet encourages anonymity and the creation of new personas.

I am starting to change my thoughts on this though. I am starting to develop some friendships online as a result of this blog with some very low-tech methods. I have on a handful of occasions actually picked up a phone and called some of my more frequent commenters or bloggers who have linked to me or emailed. It is amazing what a simple thing like this can do.

I have recently struck up some conversations with Glenn Lucke over at Common Grounds Online. After receiving an email from him last week, I was about to respond, but didn't have time to type that much. So I just decided to give him a call on my cell phone on the drive home. What a great guy!

And last night I was privileged to have the Jollyblogger, David Wayne, and his wife join our family for dinner. I had spoken to David a number of times on the phone and jumped at the chance to meet David when he mentioned that he would be coming through Atlanta. What a pleasure to just hang out and talk over dinner, without feeling the need to discuss blogging constantly but just get to know each other.

So I now have made two new friends through blogging. Not sure if this would have happened without the phone calls or hanging out IRL. But I'm coming around on this idea of creating some sense community online. I'd love to get the thoughts of my readers on this.

And next time you are in Atlanta, shoot me an email so we can meet.

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