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Hyper-Connected Issues: "How Are We Connected Again?"

Screen Shot 2012 05 22 at 6.31.16 AM Hyper Connected Issues: How Are We Connected Again?

In an interesting moment last weekend, I was at a dinner party and a new acquaintance and I were cross-referencing friends. We were trying to find the name of a mutual "friend" who worked at a certain tech company. When neither of us could come up with a name, we both cracked open our modern-day communicators [the crew of Star Trek would be impressed] and started hunting through out contacts. But something funny happened.

"I know I follow them. I’m just not sure if it’s on LinkedIn or Facebook," he said.

"I was just commenting on something on Facebook, I think he’s an ultralight pilot."

After about 5 minutes of humming and hoeing, neither of us came up with the name or the connection. And rather than being rude we put our phones back down and carried on the conversation about the company’s tech without our "mutual" friends name. [Tip of the tongue, I tell you.] So it brought up an interesting gestalt on today’s ultraconnected technologies.

"Where do we know each other from?" used to be an easier question. "You look familiar," most likely meant, "I saw you in public some where and I’ll place it in a minute." And more often than not, about 6 years ago the answer was usually work or Whole Foods Market (where I shop and hangout sometimes). Now, I have no idea. There are too many connections, too many potential pictures, references, friends of friends, circles, influencers, etc. How in the world are we supposed to keep track of all of this interconnectivity?

And personally my problem is, I never forget a face, but I’m horrible with names. So seeing someone and recognizing that I’ve seen them before, used to be a slightly entertaining exercise. "Do you play tennis, work in marketing, shop at Whole Foods," were the easy questions that produced about 70% of the connects. Today, I start with those and then pretty much give up if they don’t ring a bell. There’s just too many faces in my frontal lobe with vague connections that don’t fire any synapses. A passing glimpse of you and your kids on facebook and that’s it. The face sticks in my brain, the context and content of the image often does not. It’s maddening.

But it’s what we’ve got. The hardest thing for me is to recall WHERE WE SHARE THE CONNECTION. Once we’ve established friend or foe it is easy to hook our networks up. "Call my phone so I can save your number," is the new pickup line, but it also works well for business and casual connections with parents of our kid’s friends.

Where DO you connect? How do you sort through all the possibilities to recognize a face and put it with a name? The augmented reality of the web and the web-enabled phone have made the game much more challenging and complex. But if you stick with it, if BOTH of you hammer your electronic networks for a bit, you might be able to find the connection.

I like it better when I’m playing a doubles match and I recognize one of my opponents. "We know each other," I say. And after a few games I come up with it. "You played pop-warner football in Austin! You were a quarterback!"

"Damn, you’re right. How did you do that?"

I don’t know, but it didn’t have anything to do with technology or my wonderfully-webby phone.

@jmacofearth (also seen on Google+: jmacofearth)

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