Where have you discovered community, online or otherwise, in 2010? What community would you like to join, create or more deeply connect with in 2011?
On balance, 2010 has been a year in which I have spent rather less time in online communities and much more in “real life” ones. My overall online time has decreased and changed in nature – a year ago it was (still) the case that I spent most evenings fairly consistently online, sometimes to the point of eating in front of the computer. Now, I’m more likely to look more sporadically at what is going on – the iPod Touch which I’ve had just over a year makes this an easy option – but my eating is done at the table, more often than not with someone else. This more sporadic, largely iPod-based online activity has resulted in my being rarely on Skype or chat clients these days, but I am not someone who needs to be in constant communication with others anyway, and I find semi-synchronous online contact such as Twitter an awful lot less stressful than the synchronous modes that used to have me glued to my monitor, sometimes for hours on end.
Communities that have grown and developed over the same period include the group of local Twitter users that meets up regularly and in various constellations – sometimes small, spontaneous coffee breaks, and occasionally more elaborate, extensive gatherings planned further in advance. It’s an interesting mix – a few people I knew from pre-Twitter real-life situations that had nothing to do with being online, and many other people I would probably never have had the chance to meet had it not been for Twitter. It’s good that this group has reached a size where there’s something for everyone and a LOT of community spirit.
I have another group of friends who simply don’t “do” the social media thing to any (great) extent, and this year we have got into the habit of spending quite a bit of time together at weekends. We’ve done a lot of cycle tours with one couple, for example, and a fair bit of cooking and entertaining with them and a number of other interconnected friends. There’s normally a big meal at someone’s house on a Saturday, and/or an outing in fine weather. They are almost all scientists and medics, so I’ve learned an awful lot (and have, equally often, been baffled) about their areas of work just as we have fostered our various common interests and tastes.
I think I’d like more of the same in 2011 – it’s a good, healthy mix. I’m also hoping to be able to meet up with some old schoolmates over Christmas so as to keep up with old friendships as well as newer ones. Another thought is that it ought to be possible to build up a bit more of a local photography community – that is something I have neglected a bit over the last year or so, but I am pretty sure there are like-minded people close by…