I can’t recall the source, but I recently read somewhere that the power of social networked computing may not be so much the connection of people at a distance as the first step to getting connected in the physical world. It claimed that in people in small towns tend to know most everyone or be indirectly connected with people of similar interests. However, the use of social networking in large metropolitan areas makes it easier to find people who might have similar interests. The claim is that the online connection can lead to more actual physical engagement. One example is eHarmony.
Somewhat related to this idea is an experience I’m having in my office. I believe the more engaged my colleagues and I become in reading blogs, creating our own posts, and jointly learning in and about the w20 environment, the more we tend to gather around the coffee pot or drop into each other’s offices for a quick chat (or maybe not so quick). We are becoming more excited about discussing what we read and the ideas which these readings inspire.