“Social Networking,” the term that purports to explain the growing ways we interact (and which I suspect will soon be archaic), almost seems quaint in its wording. Almost everything we do seems to incorporate opportunities to connect with strangers in ever more expanding ways – from the avatars of World of Warcraft and Second Life, to iphone Apps like Words With Friends, which allows users to play a Scrabble-like game against friends or strangers – and allows for text chat that often extends beyond trash-talking and where-are-you-from. I have an ongoing series of games with a Houston-based rap artist – we’ve traded websites and created a basic connection that – who knows – could prove useful in our work someday.
Words With Friends allows only choosing games with friends or random opponents – you can’t choose individuals on the basis of shared interests – I’ve had young opponents terminate games simply on the basis of learning my age – but on balance, it’s interesting to learn basic facts about where and who you’re playing with.
The online community isn’t truly a community in the traditional sense – but I believe that we’ll rapidly moving toward a technological age when our virtual town square might be 3000 miles wide.