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Offline and online conversations

Do you miss the serendipity of hallway conversations at conferences and events?

Online conversations can be more powerful than offline ones. Here’s why I think so.

In person, you start with people, and you look for common topics. Conversation participants all see each other. The possibilities are limited to who’s there and what you can discover in time.

Online, start with the topic you’re interested in. You find people, and people find you. The conversation goes on, asynchronously, for weeks, months, years.

I rarely talk to just one person about something. Most of the time, other people are interested. These people may have never met. The conversation brings them together. We learn even more.

I rarely talk to just people I know. Often, someone de-lurks and joins the conversation. People come in through searches or links. The conversation is much more open, more far-reaching.

This makes for interesting conversations. Amorphous, because I don’t know who’ll be in it or when it will end. Serendipitous, because we make unexpected connections. Efficient, because sharing serves many.

Do your online conversations look like this? How can you take advantage of being online? How can we translate these strengths into the offline world?

I’ll be away from Dec 30, 2009 to Jan 5, 2009. See you when I get back!