Rather than gather information, links and ephemera from the web, I like to talk about my personal experiences with social media. It’s not because I have a large ego that needs constant attention, it’s simply because it’s easier for me.
I’m not really sure if message boards are considered social media, perhaps they were a precursor to it. I’m still involved in posting on a few regularly, but a dozen or so years ago they were they only way to interact with others via the web. The first one I ever was aware of was called TCPunk. Two computer-knowledgeable friends created it with the intent on connecting the people who were involved with the punk rock scene in Minneapolis in the early 1980s. I quickly found out about what people were doing, where they were living, all sorts of things. It was quite amazing to be able to talk to them for more or less free, while sharing old photos, music and stories. We eventually had events where we could meet up in person.. none of this would have been possible with only telephone calls or letters. It opened up a whole new world of connectivity, and people not in our “scene”, who were much younger or older, soon joined in and became part of the community. Like many things online though, it ran its course and though the forum and site still exists, there are only a handful of people on it now. It has been replaced by Facebook for the most part. Still, it did start something and it’s fun to look at the archived posts to see how people change over the years.
LinkedIn is a strange one. The Summer of 1980 I spent living in London, working at a youth hostel. I met a lot of really great and interesting people from all over the world. Last year on LinkedIn, I got a message from a name I immediately recognized but had not heard from the person since 1981. Two German students stayed at the hostel and befriended me. One had excellent English skills so we talked often. They told me about a concert that they said I must attend, and I did so with them. It turns out it was recored for a live album, I didn’t find that out until perhaps a year later, but I still have it and can say I was there. Anyway, there in my LinkedIn messages was a note from one of them, Thomas, who remembered me and my name and wanted to connect. He now works for Sony records in Berlin. Maybe not a business connection that can help me out, but it was very cool to hook up again nevertheless.
For some reason, I look at the past fairly frequently. Not because of nostalgia or to escape, but to learn from it and to see what my strange trajectory has been. And many parts of it become revealed through the power of the web and search engines. Facebook has been excellent for this and connecting with yet more people from my past. I really do like to connect again with people who were important to me way back when. I’m looking forward to see what is next in this aspect of social media. GJB