This story keeps roaming through my brain. We are living in such strange times. I spent last night with a bunch of bankers and spoke at length with a guy who works at Fannie Mae. Conversation was fascinating on many levels. There is a part of me that every time I sit down with someone new, particularly someone in my age range, I wonder…do they get it? Do they understand that the world has completely changed?
There is something in this story that keeps drawing me back. In many ways, this story, although 10 years old, is exactly where we are today in the world of social networking, creating niche businesses, and connecting with like individuals in the flat world that we live in.
Henry Bar Levav is someone I got to know quite well during the Internet craze of the 90's. He was the brains behind an Internet consulting company called Oven. I really adored Henry. He told me a story years ago that I have told over and over again that in many ways defines the world we live in.
He had ( I assume had because so many years have passed ) a niece that lived in Pittsburgh. In his eyes, she was a beautiful, smart, wonderful young Jewish girl who couldn't connect or relate to any of her peers in Pittsburgh. Yet, she was a huge They Might Be Giants fan.
She would come home, get on line, and go to the They Might Be Giants website and hang out in the chat rooms. She found many people in those rooms who she could relate to. It was a huge awakening. Other kids in High Schools around the country ( perhaps around the globe ) who found themselves in the same frustrated predicament as herself. Through these people she began to realize that once she left Pittsburgh and went to college she would find other people, like herself, and her world would open up. She was not alone, she was not strange or weird but she was just living somewhere where there was not a lot of other people like herself. This website and community changed her life.
Fast forward 10 years, we see how social networking has transformed and connected the world. If you want to find other people in the world who only eat deep fried chocolate covered pickles (are there those people ), you can find them. If you have a product to sell, think Etsy, that rocks your existence, you can find a market of people out there that feel the exact same. What social networking has done, or what the web has done, it create the ability to reach our your hand to someone else in the world who has the same interests or perhaps the interest in buying your product, etc.
This connection makes for niche businesses as well as tiny like communities on the web that can be passionate about something and perhaps choose to make a difference in the world or even just make oneself feel connected and complete. That is alone is very powerful.
Damn, I love the Internet.