We talk about connection a lot. We talk about social objects, social networks... technology to connect people.

But for all that, a lot of the time we remain distracted by the tools we're using. The experience is often "using the service" rather than "connecting with friends".

Then there are some moments which show us what connection really means.

I'm talking about those moments when the technology falls away from notice, and we simply experience the warmth and emotion of human connection.

Human stuff. Like many things it defies definition, but we know it when we see it... and we know it when we feel it.

Derek Featherstone's "Connection" post describes just such a moment, browsing Flickr photos on his TV in his lounge room. You should read the whole post but I'll borrow a little:

As the photos play, I see my friends. I see Ben. I see Chaals. Lisa and Lisa and Lachlan, John and Maxine, Scott and Cheryl. My head and heart both started racing.


Next up was Jeremy Keith. Scrolling through his sets I see dConstruct 2008 and push play. I see photos of speakers, attendees, conference organizers — and friends in each category. It starts happening again. I see Jessica, Paul Duncan, Andy Budd, James Box and more. Heart racing, fitting with the music. What is happening?

Connection » box of chocolates

These moments are what truly excite me about the web; and about the potential of the internet as a whole.

These moments are what I want my less tech-savvy friends to tap into.

the net keeps me connected

Twitter has kept me in touch with friends from web events. Flickr lets me share photos with friends and family. Skype lets me video call my family (I live in a different city). Facebook, for all its faults, has kept me in touch with friends from college.

My friends are split to the four winds. We revel in the moments when we're in the same room, but in between those golden moments we use the net to keep in touch. Online connection is real and important to me, not the ersatz connection many people still assume it must be.

connected moments

Moments don't need to be big or complex to make an impression. One of my favourites was my "twitter moment". It was essentially the moment when I decided I'd keep using Twitter.

One night back in March 2007 I was enjoying a few drinks here in Sydney with Chaals, who was visiting from Oslo. I used my phone to twitter our location, with our view of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Moments later I got a direct message from Derek, in Ottawa, asking me to say "hi" to Chaals for him.

It was a very simple thing. But in that moment technology had connected three friends in real time, away from the computer and in fact on opposite sides of the planet... and that's pretty cool!

Sure, I know it's all just mobile towers and servers and satellites and data. But every once in a while I think we should just appreciate the joy of the magic of it all.

Cartoon (Three Panel Soul) - guy holding a mobile phone: This device can contact nearly anyone in the world, locate me on aerial maps and plot directions to any location in the country. It is unquestionably the future, and you would have crashed your stupid flying car anyway.

[Cartoon: Three Panel Soul :: Archive 2008-11-05]

I'm not saying that a text message was as good as having Derek there with us. But it was nice to be able to share the moment so casually. Without Twitter it wouldn't have happened.

Moments of connection like these help build friendships, despite great distances... and this year, on my 30th birthday no less, this moment happened:

me, derek and chaals

L-R: me, Derek, Chaals.

And that's the really good stuff :)

...and you?

So, has there ever been a moment where—for all your web savvy—you were able to simply enjoy the magic?

What's your moment of connection?