Ambient Awareness & Class Reunions

Just a quick thought ...

Ever since Clive Thompson published his New York Times article, I'm So Totally, Digitally Close to You, the term 'ambient awareness' has been tossed around liberally in social media circles.  And for good reason ... it's a nice way of describing the connections enabled by communities like Twitter and Facebook.  As the article describes it ...

It [ambient awareness] is,they say, very much like being physically near someone and picking up on his mood through the little things he does — body language, sighs, stray comments — out of the corner of your eye.

Later in the article ...

Each little update — each individual bit of social information — is insignificant on its own, even supremely mundane. But taken together, over time, the little snippets coalesce into a surprisingly sophisticated portrait of your friends’ and family members’ lives, like thousands of dots making a pointillist painting. This was never before possible, because in the real world, no friend would bother to call you up and detail the sandwiches she was eating. The ambient information becomes like “a type of E.S.P.,”

It's that last bit, about E.S.P., that particularly hits home after spending this past weekend celebrating a milestone high school reunion.  As my eyes floated around a room filled with people I hadn't seen or spoken to in many years, I felt totally in-the-know ...

Teddy?  San Francisco, two kids.  John?  Chiropractor, stays in touch with Gregg.  Dina?  Can't believe her twins started 5th grade.  Micah?  Wonder how he likes living in the suburbs?

No big takeaway here ... just that after using the term 'ambient awareness' so often in the last year, it all finally makes sense; and I now have a good example to use when describing the term.

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