So, I was reading the comments to my last post, one of them from a woman at Hallmark. I figured she was a longer-term peterme.com reader.
Well, it turns out I’m in Hallmark’s offices, and when I open up iChat, I see this woman on the local network. So I say, “Hi! I saw you had written on my site!”
In chatting, I found out that she hadn’t been to my site before today. What had happened is that my computer had popped up on the local network, and had appeared in people’s iChat and iTunes. She Googled my name, and saw my site, read that I was in Kansas City, and posted a comment. I then read that, and later discovered her on the network.
I don’t know quite what to make of all this, except that it seems like a glimpse of what’s to be as things get increasingly digital and public.
It can get spooky. Last night I uploaded a photo of Papa Cristo on Flickr, then sent it to its page. Going there, I saw the new photo already had a comment. Assuming I had made an error, I clicked on the comment, but saw it was from a viewer who had obviously clicked on my site and posted her comment 25 seconds before. That’s before I sent it there!
On the flip side, I’ve been in meeting after meeting with wireless laptops, all running XP, and people are passing around USB drive keychains to share files. Ridiculous.
Your situation illustrates well two issues close to my heart as of late: personal communication and information sharing. I have been thinking about how the gap in synchronous and asynchronous communication can affect these two aspects of the personal IA. Two big challenges are presence/availability and privacy management (not the buzz word, but the personal ability to indicate disposition to communicate). We’ll be dealing with this more and more, specially as cross-device communication becomes less clunky.
I’ve “chatted” with people through email when they were on computers where they couldn’t use IM, had comments posted to my blog as I was editing the entry I just posted and, more often than not, had my sessions go nuts when editing wikis because of simultaneous access. Asynchronous and synchronous communication have always been treated separately for reasons I can’t quite understand, but thinking of these events (and your example) there seems to be a large gap and overlooked opportunity as it relates to issues of information overload (and the personal IA/InfoCloud concerns).
You became aware of the person’s post and location because YOU made the connections between all the different things that happened. Could you have made the same connection if the volume of communication/information was much greater (excess/noise)? Or if there was less information? You filled the gap between the asynchronous (blog comment) and the synchronous (online availability in a network). You leveraged presence/availability (on iChat and physically in the office) and privacy management (you were both identifiable on peterme.com and on iChat/local network) to create meaningful information/connection = “X person interested in what I have to say is in the same room as me, I should talk to them” . You created the relationships that were not visible. To me, that’s the goldmine for UX design.