ambient awareness

Use Social Platforms As Your Web-Wide Contact Book

Screen Shot 2013-07-31 at 4.13.40 PMNo more address books. No more contact files. Here's something I've been doing for years. It's a way to organically grow your networks online, increase ambient awareness of people you've run across in person, AND keep entropic clutter to a minimum. Take that inert stack of biz cards on your desk. You're hoarding them to contact those folks when the need arises, or when all your ducks are in a row, or something. You're waiting for the day the cards will work -- but don't wait.

Find and connect on (multiple) social sites with each of them. Toss the cards.


Believe that you will be able to find these people without the physical card. Believe that you don't actually need their phone number or fax or street address -- it's all findable!

(Flipside: make your own contact details findable by the people you want to be found by. That's a settings issue at your profiles.)

Know that by connecting* with these acquaintances ambiently via online networks, you're taking a small action that will help bring them closer for mutual benefit now, and in the future.

You're now starting to use social platforms like a web-wide contact book.


*And if you freak at the thought of requesting a low-pressure connection online at the most appropriate sites, then how were you intending to reach out to this person in the future when you actually have something to ask or propose?

Sucker Punch Time Zone

With the ambient awareness of social media, my Istanbul time zone (GMT/UTC +3) was ideally civilized for global interaction. That time zone made me feel competent. I could be dressed, caffeinated, fed and through all my emails before urbane London came online. Yes, I missed happenings in Asia, but I could catch up on the headlines and communicate with foodies and expats and culturalists in the Far East.

Then I'd be at my afternoon best when New York and the East Coast appeared, ready to Twitter-attend their conferences and swoop into their conversations with a European knowing.

I'd be a well-oiled social being at night when early morning California finally showed up, including my editors at the publishing house and family.

The converse was not true, however. When my a.m. Twitter path crossed California, I had out-of-sync exchanges with late-night LA snark which I invariably misread with early morning earnest. No longer. Had to unfollow since who wants to build new relationships on chronic misunderstandings?

Now that I'm back in California (UTC-7) I can't believe how late and lazy and slow the time zone makes me feel.

I marvel at how people from here don't seem to notice the world spun without them. I was once one of these people.

I sense I've missed the day. I've overslept my life. Like a particularly undignified Groundhog Day, I awake to a worldwide sucker punch.

Friends and colleagues in NYC are already well into their conferences and commentary on the day's news, and soon enough they're unwinding with cocktails when I'm needing an afternoon coffee.

By the time I start firing on all cylinders, the world has slipped into a long night.

The empty expanse of the Pacific's never been more palpable since my awareness has become global, and real-time.


Time zones were created to organize the activities of a geographical region. For those of us operating globally, with friends, family, colleagues and other parties of interest scattered around the globe, and with a way to be ambiently aware of them, there is no longer a time zone for social (and work) purposes.