My biggest learning in 2010, was ... #techMAP

My biggest learning in 2010, was ... I hate social networks

Well okay, not really.

What I hate is the obsession with the tools and networks as if they somehow created a void rather than filling it.

Working in the social media industry I hate the tendency for obsession with over definition. I hate the ... wait this is all sounding a little negative.

You see, what I love is people. I love community. Yes, this is all very hippy sounding but forgive me - if one can't be a little Californian on a freezing December evening in London then when can one?

Back in April I co-founded a tweetup called #themeet140, frankly because I found that the bit I enjoyed most about conferences was in the bar afterwards: the social bit, duh. About 13 of these have now been run, and I have attending many, from 25 people to a mighty 140 in Glasgow - the greatest learning I have made this year is that I am not alone - we all like a bit of community.

And in the community things can happen:

For those that don't know #themeet140 it is the laziest tweet up format ever. It is essentially lots of people in a bar. But from this basic format all sorts of things have sprung:

  • In Glasgow a group of first-timers, who didn't know each other until they met that night, formed a defacto welcoming committee - to ensure that everyone received as warm a welcome as they had.
  • In London, someone who had sadly declined to take a new job because they worried that they were not skilled enough, met the MD of the firm coincidentally at the meet and was convinced to take the job. They are working together fantastically now
  • In Aberdeen themeet community is so vibrant that they have spawned a games night, snowball fight and another meet night. This time a meat 140. I am assuming this is more culinary than erotic.

This is not an advert for the tweet up, and it is also nothing new of course. Community is age old. 100000 years ago when we left the jungle hunter-gatherer groups formed of around 150 to survive. It is no accident that the average number of friends we have on FaceBook is about the same. We crave this.

So my learning social networks are a medium, not the means. I hate social networks for fooling us into believing that they have the power. We have the power.

This blog post is my presentation from techMAP London December, this video may also be of interest:

2011 here we come! @lucyjpayne & @markofrespect #techMAP London from Berniejmitchell on Vimeo.