natural affinity

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Interestingly, the more time I spend reading blogs and following links and searching Google for content, the more I seem to end up in the same places rather than different ones.

I think that perhaps the effect of having this enormous "public sphere" of information is that like minds are better able to seek each other out and make connections. What seems purely serendipitous at first looks more and more purposeful or even inevitable.

Case in point. This week's elections had me thinking about the works by Habermas that I read during my first year of doctoral study. At the time (1992), I was struck by the relationship between Habermas' "ideal speech" situation and the communication environment provide by the Internet (e-mail and usenet, basically; this was still what Clay Shirky calls "the Before Time", pre WWW).

So I went Googling for people who might have explored the connection between blogs and Habermas' "public sphere." Who did I find? Why, Jill Walker again, in a blog called "blogonblog" that she and her colleague Torill Mortensen put together for a paper they'd written.

Somehow, though, this didn't surprise me. In the best of all possible worlds (for me, at least), it's intellectual affinity that draws people together. The fact that my early reading of Jill's current blog led me to link to her site and regularly read her entries seems an excellent indication that we share a common way of thinking about technology and the way we interact with it. This was an affirmation that I can trust my instincts, that if I follow my interests they'll lead me to the people who share them, and that those connections will be the ones that matter.

There's a cyclical component to this, I think. A reaching out and connecting to new ideas and new people, a circling back that affirms the value of those connections and integrates them into your own sphere, then more reaching out, using those new nodes in your personal network. There's a self-limiting quality to the process--you only reach out as far as your capacity allows, returning to the relative "safety" of known entities, adding a node or two at a time, paring the non-essential components as you go.

1 Comment

Hmmm... I get a feeling that perhaps you'd like to have a look at and perhaps join our brand new group-forming community. One of the central themes we're exploring is how new IT can help people with a common interest find one another.

Here's the URL:

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This page contains a single entry published on November 7, 2002 9:34 AM.

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