Is technology key for building trust and social capital in today’s world? That’s a key point made in an interesting Fast Company article, “Community Revival: How Technology is Reconstructing our Shared Lives“, by Nicole Skibola. She focuses on “Generation Yers” significant desire to contribute, albeit in forms that might not be recognized by older generations. Skibola cites innovative projects such as Skillshare that helps people share their skills with strangers.
Skibola also discusses how “technology-fueled face-to-face connection” builds traditional community. This certainly resonates with our work at SCI. Our Outreach & Technology team creates content for people’s screens that encourages them to participate in the community. Keith Anderson, Pastor of the Lutheran church here in Woburn, recently blogged about how Tweetups are a great way to bridge digital and face-to-face relationships. Skibola happens to cite Meetups as a major example of how GenY uses technology to connect in person; Tweetups are a natural evolution of the concept.
Another good read this week, “5 Reasons You Need to Meet in Person“, by Rene Shimada Siegel, emphasizes the continued importance of in-person meetings. I enthusiastically shared and endorsed the premise. There is a depth possible to in-person connections hard to achieve in a purely virtual situation. However, one might infer from Siegel’s piece that we need to make choices between in-person and virtually connecting with people. The recent articles by Skibola and Anderson are more aligned with SCI’s view of things–technology can be a dynamic way to bring people together in-person and strengthen relationships. I’ve elaborated on the link between technology and local community building in my posts, “Why I Tweet” and “10 Ways to Build Your Community Clout“.
Skibola discusses in her article important ways the workplace will be a source of “social glue” in the 21st century. Creative ways of engaging people through the workplace, such as the local program Building Impact, are certainly great. But we at SCI still see great desire of people of all ages to participate in their local, place-based communities. And increasingly, technology can help make that happen.