A few years ago a web community I manage decided to have their meetup here in San Francisco. Every year the members vote on a city and so I was lucky SF won out. They’ve held them in cities like NY, Portland, Toronto, Chicago and this year it is going to be in Boston.
At one point that night the entire group decided to walk from the place where we ate to a bar about four blocks away. As these things go our group quickly turned into a long line of people walking along the street. This was a Saturday night so there was the usual crowd of bar goers and people out for dinner.
While standing at a red-light (half our group continued walking, talking, and not worrying if the group behind them would catch up) a woman also waiting to cross asked, “What is this?” She was smiling like she was about to discover something that was cool. She looked hopeful.
“You will laugh if I tell you,” I joked. I was fairly intoxicated. I couldn’t think of anything better to say.
“No, tell me. What is this?” She looked at the group. We are from all parts of the country (and world) and so we are dissimilar both physically and the way we’re dressed.
“We are all members of a web site. We met online and are now meeting in person.”
She laughed. Not even in the, “okay, I get it” way or “that’s cute” way but more like the “that is very stupid” way. She said something like, “Yup, you were right,” and continued on her way.
Every once in a while I think about that moment in the Mission when the woman was so eager to know what and who we were. Like she was missing out on something. 50+ people talking and walking in a line down the street is a compelling scene; especially in a part of SF so fixated on trends.
This weekend I went camping with my family and six other families. Not only was it a relaxing day with families with whom we had a lot in common, it was a nice time away from the internet as well. There is no cell service where we camped and I can’t imagine WiFi signals have bounced around those redwoods very often.
I’ve been posting about this a bit, but I think my time off pushed me even further along to where I was going. I won’t say “off Twitter”, but I feel like focusing more on things around the edges of Twitter.
And maybe I am just looking for examples—seeing patterns where there are none—but a few things have appeared that makes me feel like other people are feeling the same way.
Today Mule launched Evening Edition a one-page summary of the day’s news. I love so much about this, but what I love most is that it is well written and concise. Go back a few days to see how much good stuff there is to publish when you aren’t concerned about page-views and stuffing ads down your reader’s throats.
A few months ago Dave Pell launched NextDraft, a mid-day email that summarizes and links to everything worth reading in the day so far. The commentary is hilarious. The selected links are always on target.
Dustin Curtis’ Svbtle network has almost single-handedly brought blogging back. (Not that it ever went away!) But people are excited about writing and that could not make me happier.
Right now at this very moment the parade of people walking down my neighborhood on Twitter are talking about Marissa Mayer leaving Google for Yahoo!. Twitter is great for single issues like this. Jokes tossed out, pithy sentences get flung around via retweets, and ultimately everyone settles on an opinion (or two) and the parade moves on. I rarely remember who said what. It’s always a bit of a blur to me.
Paul Ford unfollowed everyone he was following. Paul’s a far more perceptive and thoughtful guy than myself. When I noticed he had unfollowed everyone (only following a few geography accounts) it stuck in my head for a few months. I even asked him about it when I saw him in person and he sort of shrugged it off. Paul figured this out months ahead of me. I want to figure it out too.
It’s taking me a while, but I feel like I am getting closer figuring out how to let the parade march by and go happily along my way.