Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The glue for the modern world

Our lives continue to change. While my mother grew up in a very rural North Carolina where horses were the default mode of transportation and most people farmed. While my life has spanned 57 years, I cannot remember a time when people didn't go off to work in factories from their suburban homes.

How we connect with people has changed massively as this move off of the farm has accelerated. People used to know their neighbors well. The local stores had people who lived near you. Much of your information came from your neighbors or relatives.

As stores became larger and centralized in shopping malls, the likelihood of knowing any of the stores' employees decreased geometrically. Family and friends ended up being scattered by the demands of modern life. While there are exceptions to the rule, many people probably live in neighborhoods where they have only a passing acquaintance with their neighbors.

As this has happened, the need for locally significant information has increased greatly. Often adult children are at a distance from their parents and may actually work for companies that don't even have offices or where the necessity to work hard and socialize little has been become the norm.

Perhaps that is the explanation behind the great success of online communities like MySpace. While I believe that blogs provide a significant connection and community for some, the reality is that many bloggers might feel more community spirit with other bloggers than they do their readers.

In spite of that, much of the information and opinion provided by bloggers fills in the cracks left by the dissipation of family and friends across the country. You might not be able to get local information from mom or dad but you might be able to find answers at a local blog that you respect.

The information and guidance you can pick up from someone not trying to sell you something is well worth the effort. You can likely tell quickly how valuable the information is by the author's posts. The fact that Google and others index all this information and keep it at our finger tips makes it even more useful.

Some of our local personal relationships have disappeared only to be replaced Google's ability to recreate them by providing a virtual hook to the local area from neighboring people we have never formally met.

I have only met one of my favorite blog authors, yet I feel like I know all of them in spite of a few being anything but local.

I think you will enjoy reading Fragments from Floyd, Seans's Horse Farm and Family Blog, Loose Leaf Notes, NosceTipsum, and Leaves of Grass. My first stop if I cannot find information about Floyd on Google would be Fred, and Sean would get tapped if were looking for something in Boone's Mill.

Today you can find some virtual communities that are more formal such as the ones done by Backfence. The first done by Backfence are in California, northern Virginia, Illinois and Maryland. This areas need a lot more glue to hold them together than we do in southwest Virginia or coastal North Carolina. We still do talk to our neighbors down here.

As we have more and more online content to fill in the cracks in our information overwhelmed world, blogs provide a valuable link to others. We have a need to communicate and get information from sources that are more than just anonymous voices. Fortunately on the web, we can strive to be more than just unknown outposts of sometimes useful information.

Perhaps you should look at bloggers as lighted guideposts to find your way to your way in this very complex world when you have exhausted all of your local sources

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