Okay, here’s the deal. Knowing people online is a funny thing.
With the arrival of social networks over the years, the real “knowing” of someone has taken on a massive group of sliding scales to decipher how you know someone, on what type of network, for how long, level of actual interaction with that person, be it comment chatter, direct messages, via email, actual phone conversations, IM, group chats, IP telephony, and so forth.
To combat this strangely out-of-presence experience, we put together the MeToday flickr pool. The idea is that without at least a photo of people in real life, who is the person that you interact with everyday? Photography to the rescue, my friend (I say that in the best way possible).
Starting with flickr, we (the users who joined) began posting occasional photos of ourselves during our day. It didn’t matter what you were doing, or the lighting, or where you were. The rules are pretty straightforward, if you’re interested in adding your own. Since starting the pool in 2006, many have stepped in to help keep the pool clean, such as Colin Devroe. Colin helped out quite early on to promote the idea and even began a video version of MeToday and you can see Chris J. Davis creating his MeTodayVideo on his birthday.
Granted, there are a million ways to share your face online with other users. Some recent services include DailyBooth.com, the wonderfully designed Robo.to service (which incidently has a desktop app that uploads little video clips to their site (your page) if you’re into that whole desktop computer metaphor from the 80’s. The point is to share a bit of yourself with those you know online.
Daily or very occasional photo sharing doesn’t always have to be photos of your face, though that was the main point of MeToday, in general. In fact, there are some groups of users who attempt the “post a photo every day for a year” project. Successful or not, projects like this force you to explore your surroundings on a daily basis to capture interestingnessitudeiosity.
There are some great examples that share similar themes, like the very popular Flickr 365, even a Flickr 365 Toys, a quick tutorial for those that are slow on the uptake (Lifehacker How To: Project 365), and a very nicely shared daily photo blog from Jason Santa Maria (Daily Photo).
So, though I mostly work inside my design cave, I prefer to venture out, meet people, discover those with whom I could collaborate or learn from, and have some real conversation. Actually attending events, conferences, parties, coworking offices, shared workspaces, even coffeeshops has been instrumental for me.
In the ongoing end, you yourself choose to share your face with others in the ether world. Sometimes recognizing a face of the other person helps us to form a representation of their real selves.
Of course, a handshake and an introduction in person always helps. Don’t be a stranger.