In 'I'm so Totally, Digitally Close to You', he takes us through the tools of Twitter, Flickr, FaceBook and others to describe what is termed as 'Ambient Intimacy' (the idea of using communication tools as a form of 'co-presence' ) and how how it affects life, relationships, the way we do business & work, learn, and live life.
When I bookmarked it to read later it had 11 comments, by the time I got around to reading it had 22 and today as I type this it has more than 68! and still on, which goes to show the buzz it is creating. And why not. It is the hot topic of Social Media - and as Warren mentions , a article that analyses the 'social' in the media. Not merely with focus on technology.
Here is how I see the brave (or foolish) new world.
By itself no single thing has any meaning. Any meaning or pattern emerges only in context.
So when people question how many relationships or friends or connects one can have- a reference to the Dunbar Number, i.e the reference to developing social bonds by engaging in some sort of 'grooming' behaviour- derived from behaviour of apes who pick and smooth one another's fur- what emerges is that social interactivity explodes at the junction of 'weak ties'. People you'd have met at a conference or when travelling, or in this case, met or meet on twitter. It says,
...Sociologists have long found that “weak ties” greatly expand your ability to solve problems.....
I find myself in complete agreement here. I like the nature of network or web of relationships that it implies. (and lets face it- apes in the experiment were not trained to use computers, if they could I'm sure the Dunbar number would be different :)). This is the value proposition I'd go with simply because it is what I have observed and or experienced on twitter. And herein lies the crux of sharing- knowledge, time ; a little bit (or more) of yourself; creating or giving trust; having fun; enjoying the process; not harming anyone or setting yourself up for harm; connecting; helping; asking for help; pointing; giving someone the heads up; and many other things that make man 'social' .
So, don't use SM tools if it doesn't work for you. Don't pronounce it as useless if it does not or if you have not given it a try; or if your work and life has no need for such things as problem solving, advise and connections. Some products and services may work, some not at all, some in a limited way. In short, don't be too occupied with analysing its benefits and drawbacks.
Communication does not always have to be deep and philosophical. Or frivolous all the time. Real life is normally one or other or mostly in between. Till computers do it, we will still need real life to have a bath, eat, make love, have babies, smell the roses, raise a toast, listen to the sound of the sea, take care of our health, grow roses and beans (if you are as fond of growing things as I am). It will be important to appreciate a sunset (in real life and not second life), eat, drink, exercise, work, make time for oneself, family, neighbours and pets. But that does not negate the power of technology tools to enhance life and interpersonal communication :D
In no way is technology a threat or support to real life unless we make it so.
Via many personal examples, interviews and experience sharing, the article brings out the various implications and is an interesting read if you are interested in the topic in any way.