I’m in LA this week to attend the Economics of Social Media conference put together by our friends at PaidContent.org. The show is about to kick off, but before it does, I’d like to share some thoughts from last night. I decided to forgo last night’s meet and greet in favor of traveling to Pomona to see Indie darlings Blonde Redhead. The show was in the ever-crowded Glass House, which serves nachos, pretzels, and candy bars... adding to its appearance as an 80s roller rink.
As the show progressed, and the enchanting (if unintelligible) Kazu Makino continued to croon the entranced crowd, I glanced around to see my fellow concert goers. What I saw was truly a motley crew. A young, aspiring 50s librarian stood next to me, complete with ash cardigan on forest blouse. Behind her was a beanpole in a vest with matching pants who was likely quite mistreated by classmates not too long ago. The usual crowd of hipsters was also present, though a minority. Then I opened my view to notice the broad array of concert goers, many of whom seemed to recognize each other from previous shows, noticed unlikely pairs exchanging glances of recognition. (This conjured up memories of when, as a young ethnographer, I interviewed avid fans at WWE's Smackdown. When I inquired about a young man with a wispy beard and a sequined denim trench coat, my informant remarked, "oh yeah, him. He's at all of these.")
So it's the media that brings people together. The identity and passion for a work, an artist, a sound brings unlikely groups together. People who otherwise would never have associated. Groups who likely share more in common with their sweaty compatriots than the friends left at home. (Friend: Oh, he's going out with some blonde redhead, whatever that means.) These people connect at shows around LA, then go their separate ways, hoping to see "gray cardigan on forest blouse" on Craigslist's Missed Connections.
Enter Social Media: the class of web site that connects people through their affinity for media: music, movies, books, news, and so on. While more people are currently finding friends and dates on MySpace than YouTube, look to see more of a shift as Social Media sites take off. While I don't expect any "Shelfari is for Lovers" t-shirts to show up on my block any time soon, perhaps we can all find a few friends for stimulating conversations about the written word.