On may 2002, after desperately receiving meaningless emails from friends as they travelled abroad and elaborate how they climbed every mountain, I issued my first newsletter. I didn’t name it as a newsletter, but “One for me and one for my homies“. The mail was sent to all those friends who were abroad and thought that sending me impersonal emails will make me answer them in a personal manner. However, this was their effective mean of communication with the outside world as they had an hour or so to communicate.
I maintained the newsletter on an available time basis, usually, when something interesting happened in my life, or just some development, I released another one. All and all, sixty one emails were issued which you can read in the Gan Shula Newsletter Archive (English). The newsletter was my therapy, it was my mean to be in touch with all my friend who were abroad and didn’t have time to communicate with me. In the beginning, the newsletter was addressed only to friends abroad (and it was the post-military period of my life, where almost everyone was), after a short time more friends asked to join, so when I had around forty subscribers, I realised i had something.
During that time, I published various political texts in odd places, from the Land of the Deer Forum, through the Social Democrat’s party website and other places. Therefore, when a friend asked me why don’t i have a blog, my answer was simply since i don’t need one. I explained to her that I have my newsletter and everyone who’s important to me reads it. I had the platform to publish my sh*t, meaning, I had all the freedom of expression I needed.
[I was mistaken]
In his excellent book, The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell explains (I’d put the page number, but Meir didn’t return the book yet) about Connectors, In general, connectors are people who maintain low intensity relations with large amounts of people. (checkout Gladwell’s website for more interesting stuff). Connectors are those people who know everyone, or know people who can know everyone. Gladwell presents an experiment by Stanley Milgram referred to as “Degrees of Separation” where people in the United States where asked to deliver a parcel, through their friends and acquaintances. Milgram found out that almost all the subjects were able to pass the parcel. (for detailed information). Gladwell analysed the experiment and found out that most of the activity was done by connectors or super-connectors who know most of the people.
Most people know some connector. If the effective circle of friends (or social network) is of 180 ties, connectors may have broader circles, especially if those are able to maintain low intensity relations
The all-but-irrelevant-and-new social networks have a esoteric or maybe undeclared feature, and probably this feature was not planned as they were established. Gal More explains that social networks were not meant to broaden out social circle (Hebrew) and i tend to agree. As Sharon Gefen said Social networks lack intimacy and lack the personal relation that occurs in real life. My theorem is that Social Networks attempt to transform all their users to connectors, or at least to pseudo-connectors.
A week ago i attended an opening of Know Hope‘s display in the “New and Bad” Gallery. I came with my date, who felt quite uncomfortable. Why? I chit-chatted with many people during the opening with small-talk and minor discussions. Apparently, out of a hundred and something people who attended, I knew at least half of them. Most of my relations with those people was from different social circles. Some came from high-school, some from school, some from the university and some “just from Tel-Aviv” (meeting people in events just like this). My ability to create low-intensity relations, along side my ability to connect two people who will interest one another (while remaining passive) was the reason that my date felt uncomfortable, she knew one person in that event only, me. .
I don’t despise social networks. I reckon that they are an excellent product, they function just like any other technological mean. Social Networks were meant to replace physical connectors and make them efficient. Let’s assume that any person knows a connector or two, is that enough to reach any person in Israel? From experience, with three or four connector friends you can reach (almost) any person in Israel, including celebrities, parliament members, ministers and prime ministers. Can Facebook do that? I doubt it.
Ehud Olmert will not open an account in Facebook, and no one will add him as a contact. Yossi Beilin has a The Marker-Cafe account with 72 contacts, but he is one of the only parliament members who maintain such an account with social networking. And even he isn’t present on the network for the vast periods of time most people are.
Maybe the reason for not opening a Facebook account is that i want to believe that I’m a real-life connector, maybe it’s from the same reason i tend not to use a calculator, since i believe that the human insight and humanity has more importance. And maybe, just maybe, I’ll be proven mistaken, after all my friends start getting laid using their facebook accounts.
Image CC-BY-SA Jakob Lodwick