Social in the new era

This blog is inspired by Ton Zijlstra’s blog post regarding his birthday un-conference and working on / doing stuff that matters.

It is also a fast boil down of aspects of stuff that I have been working, writing and thinking about in the past years.

Social the autistic way

By now we know Twitter, Facebook, MSN, Skype and the likes. Many of us share our thoughts and connect through them.

Like telephony does not replace physical contact, neither do these tools. They are – in a way – autistic. We make contact by blurting out our thoughts and opinions and responding to others and their thoughts and opinions, without making “real” contact on a social and our human-as-animal level.


I have a very simple belief: our brain has certain biological “programming” that makes us social. In general we like to be amongst people. It is why we like to go out to eat in a restaurant, drink coffee in cafe’s, form bands and groups and meet at concerts and workshops.

It is also what gives us certain tools with which we evaluate and calculate the possible outcome of our actions towards others. The main strive for most of us is to create a balance. To keep our personal social life simple and untroubled. It is why I belief that societies are self-regulating first and “regulation” and “systems of control” and the “Lord of the Flies” type fear of chaos, death and mayhem in a “non-regulated” environment are heavily overrated and sometimes even nonsensical.

Sharing, filtering and creation

What we have with our “social” tools – from telephony to e-mail to upcoming to twitter, friendfied and facebook are fast ways to broadcast what we want and what we organize to do to a broad audience. Faster than word to mouth and faster and cheaper and with less effort than sending letters by paper mail or putting little advertisements in newspapers (the social and very selective “twitter” space about 15 years ago).

What we also have is a very fragmented life due to all the things we are offered to do. Adding kids and other responsibilities to that life, time is becoming a very important asset.

So what we do in our personal life is this: we develop filters. One way or another we define what is important to us personally and filter out all the stuff that is not. These filters are for instance: “I only follow people on Twitter who I known and people I do not know and share stuff that is useful for me to read”.

We create. Consuming alone is not enough. If it would, TV, work and the supermarket would be the extent of our lives and we would have no hobbies or passions. In the “age of the amateur” as some call this time period, many of us have been enabled to share our private creations to a broader audience, like I do now in this post. And in general we do it because we like it.

Relevancy and doing stuff that matters – together

As said: we like to do social things, in general. We also have the tools to broadcast our intentions and thoughts and connect our thoughts online.

I believe that:

  1. We will use the tools we have increasingly in organizing events where we will meet peers in the stuff that matters to us, do that stuff together, create, inspire, learn, build, create new friendships and relationships.
  2. We will improve our personal filters to sort out the things we find relevant for ourselves increasingly.
  3. We will attend and support those events we think are relevant to us personally
  4. We will also see the same mechanics as in the past where large  groups follow the trend-leaders – as that is a simpler road to go, requiring less thinking.

Relevancy and “Doing stuff that matters” is very personal. To me they are: creating new things, freedom of thought and independence, discarding belief systems I think are crap and being vocal about what I am doing.

Once concrete example in my case is the Roomware Project related stuff. I talk about it in presentations on events, write software for it, (help) organize events, help others when I can when they do Roomware Related stuff for events. Related to my professional work, the short term Return on Investment is close to zero. But I like to do it. It allows me to express a specific part of me in a social environment. It is social.

And you, my reader? I hope to meet you somewhere some times (again), doing the stuff that matters to you. And hopefully that stuff also matters to me.

Human contact is maybe one of the most valuable things to have and share.


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