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Wolfville, Nova Scotia
Canada

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Home is Where Your Friends Are

Chris Campbell

Sometimes I feel that I'm spread a bit too thin online, but I can't seem to stop myself for signing up to new things because it's just so much fun. So in an attempt to widen the web and to break out of the patterns that I've been in with lots of newer tools, sites and communities, it's time to step back, get a bit of perspective and write on the site which really should be my home base.
Over the past few years my posting and surfing habits have changed a bit, but there are two communities that hold on to me after joining and participating continuously over several years. The oldest is Flickr, where I first joined and posted my first photo on August 26, 2004. Now I have 6,333 photos uploaded with 112,536 views of my photostream. On 43 Things I made my first entry on December 31, 2004 and since then I've written 317 more. On both sites I love sharing photos and goals, but the critical reason for sticking around so long are the comments. It's the sign of a community that the connections you make with people are the glue that keep you coming back. When you start getting comments on many of the things that you share, it keeps you coming back because you know that someone is there and you start looking for and commenting on things that other people share.
At first with both 43 Things and Flickr I didn't really know that many people, but it grew. The first people that I became friends with are people who I may never meet as they are in faraway places and I only knew about parts of their life. It wasn't until the last year or two that some of my real world and Flickr friends started to overlap. So now I'm able to keep in touch with friends and family through photos and comments. Now I share at least one photo every day, since it's habit and I also know that people are watching. It's not about the numbers, but that there are real people who I care about who are watching.
With 43 Things the collection of friends has shifted and grown over the past few years, but the most significant shift happened last October when I adopted the goal of Daily: Reflect on 5 things for which I'm grateful and now it's accounted for about half (and probably more soon) of the entries that I've made on the 43T site. I came to that goal via the Data Janitors group (which I've not been that active on) on 43 Places and primarily thanks to my online pal David, who is known as NYCinephile.
While much of my online activity now revolves around the 43 Things cluster of sites from the Robot Coop (43 Places, 43 People, All Consuming, Lists of Bests, and the Morale-O-Meter), the newest blogging that I'm doing is with newer tools such as Vox which is easy to use and has a great community that is supportive and fun. My other fun blogging is happening in my tumblelog thanks to the fine folks from Tumblr. In thinking about the 43 Things and Vox and Tumblr sites, the very significant link between them is how they allow me to combine my presence together through the way that I can cross-post or import from one to the other. So I post Flickr photos and I can use them on the other sites very easily. I'm also now starting to have friends that overlap with 43 Things, Flickr, and Vox, which hasn't really happened before.
But the latest thing are the social networking sites and (should I even say this?) Facebook and Twitter (but I started using it when it was still Twittr). With Facebook I find my usual online world inverted where I only have friends who I know in the real world and it's a way to stay in touch with what they're up to. I still find Facebook strangely intimate in that I know all of my friends, so in an odd way I seem to share a bit less there than I do publicly, since the people there already know more about me from me than from what I've shared online.
So now we're at the level of microblogging with Twitter and status messages in Gmail. The sign that the whole microblogging thing would stick came to me when I realized that my Mom and Dad were able to keep track of what was happening around me with the status messages in Gmail. So now I'm writing against the current with a longer post and I have to say that while I like microblogging, I hope that it doesn't take me away from longer things like this. But the best part of all of this is that while everything has become easier, the simple core of everything is connecting to people that I care about whether they are next to me in the same room or are around the world. That's reassuring and it's why I'm still here.
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