The Energy of Connection

When the same concept hits you from multiple different angles in a single day, it seems you should pay attention and spend some time grappling with it.

I just sent in my article this morning to Church Production Magazine called, Church 2.0. My editor, Mark Johnson, gave me a bit of grace on my deadline and thanks to some graciously added last-minute thoughts by Ron Martoia (author of Static) the piece turned out really well. The main idea is that Web 2.0 is by nature participatory, customizable and creates community; however, current church services are primarily a one-way conversation…from the platform out to the congregation. The article explores what church could become as the culture shifts.

As I was in my e-mail, sending this document full of ideas about technology and connection, I received an invite to Facebook from a potential client in Nigeria. I decided to sign up and take a few minutes to explore it. When I looked up at the clock, an hour had flown by without my perceiving the passage of time. In a whooosh upon entering Facebook, I was connected with collegues, past classmates, old friends, and gurus from my industry. It was a networking event, trip down memory lane, reconnect to people I haven't spoken with in awhile and hello ping to people I'm geographically far from. What is really cool about Facebook isn't simply the connection, it is the interconnection. For example, I had no idea that Rex Miller was connected to Terry Storch because they spoke on a panel together, or that Pres Gillham was connected to one of my networks. Surfing through Facebook allows you to get a visual picture of social networks and how they connect to each other.

It's that visual picture that brings me to the next big connecting thought...

I worked with Jeff Strickland--who also happens to be on Facebook. While Jeff was in grad school one of the projects that he would talk animatedly about was surfing these types of networks and the blogosphere to find trnds and connections. He is now working in Washington DC on these types of datamining projects. To read more about what Jeff has written on this, check his blog.

One of the cool websites that Jeff told us about is visual representation of emotion on the blogosphere. The datamining is simple. The tool mines for the phrase "I feel." It is the interface that is a beautiful thing to surf. There are six views: Madness, Murmurs, Montage, Mobs, Metrics and Mounds. Madness is a sea of colored dots and squares. The dots are colored by the range of emotion. Blue for negative, yellow for happy, pink for love... The squares are images. If you follow a dot and click it, it will isolate the thought and give you the opportunity to jump to the blog. The thing to keep in mind is that this is real time. You are viewing the blogosphere as it happens.

I clicked to a girl who was expressing introspection on her 18th birthday and hoping that she spends the next 18 years helping people and changing the world. As I read her piece, I connected. Total stranger. Twenty year age gap. Different geography. Identical human emotion.

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© Random Cathy
Maira Gall