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Micro-blogging makes me feel “so digitally close to you”

September 8, 2008

There was a great article in yesterday’s New York Times magazine by Clive Thompson about “micro-blogging” and its effect on human relationships.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the popularity and impact of Facebook’s “News Feed” function and wondering if there’s a way for nonprofit organizations to use this emerging tool to strengthen their internal and external communications.

The article mentions how social scientists have this dubbed this sort of incessant online contact: “ambient awareness.” As Thompason writes “It 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.”

For advocacy groups and coalitions, “microblogging” might be a way for member groups, staff and volunteers to stay in touch about incremental developments in their campaign and larger work. Updates could cover what they’re working on at the moment, what areas they might need help with, highlighting new policy or news developments, etc. I’m still trying to envision what this on-line space would look like and what its parameters might be. So many social networking sites require extensive time spent maintaining and updating profiles. The tool would need to be easy to sign into, have some controls of who can join (to exlcude opponents) and some means of making it “embeddable” on a website.

I’m still thinking about this. I you have any suggestions or ideas let me know (leave a comment here).

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