Internet-Old (but #BIF2015 makes me feel young again)

It’s quiet.  My internet generation has a ton of (aching, bruised) muscle memory for communicating and reading in several windows and apps across a couple of devices simultaneously.  The new silence has my muscles twitching, yelling that we’re being lazy, but it’s just because nothing’s happening and nobody is talking.  I read a thing the other day saying that the drop-off in new Twitter users is down to the fact that it’s now so loud that it’s lonely.

Warren Ellis, “So Loud It’s Lonely

I have to admit to feeling this way most days. I miss the Twitter of 2007-2009. It was easy to meet new and interesting people outside your usual networks and find some amazingly creative things going on. The key part in that last sentence is relationships. Twitter is mostly broadcast, now, you see, and I already have an RSS reader that’s quite well tuned, thankyouverymuch. It’s easy to find the sub-networks within my feed, as they’re the few folks still @mentioning each other with any regularity. Mostly it’s just link-sharing and shouting into the void. I read somewhere recently that your “Followers” (ugh, hate that word. Why not Subscribers?) have only a 1 in 50 shot at seeing anything you Tweet. That’s just sad. And lonely. And the Internet-old man in me starts getting shouty with the kids in a get off my lawn kind-of-way.

Anyway, most mornings I still fire up TweetDeck and put the candle in the window of the Internet – do some RT’ing, reach out to a few people (most of whom, I’m happy to say, still respond). But there’s no scenius there for me anymore.

Except, occasionally, there is. The Business Innovation Factory Innovation Summit is like a pop-up scenius for me each year in September (this will be my 6th Summit, which makes me an old man at #BIF2015, I fear). In many ways, the BIF community functions like Twitter did for me in the early days – it connects me to people doing fantastically creative things in networks outside my usual circles. [NOTE: There are still 34 seats left to this life-changing conference. I hope you’ll consider registering while there’s still time here. Also, I highly recommend the warm-up #Innobeer event at the Trinity Brewhouse.] It starts on Twitter (Saul Kaplan @skap5 was one of the early friends I made on Old Twitter) with hashtags like #TheBIF, #BIF2015, #Innobeer and #Innochat and melts into a warm, energetic extended family that welcomes the newcomers as well as the regulars. It’s a community that renews itself annually as it moves from Twitter to Providence to Twitter again.

As the social web begins to darken and contract a bit (private Slack communities are all the rage now), events like the BIF Summit become even more precious to me. So set your Twitter to read-only (or even DM-only), but find the spark, the light that made it so interesting to begin with, at the dawn of the social web. Because, like me, you can be Internet-old, but still feel community young.