Making new connections online

2007 was a big year for 'social networking': facebook and similar sites were rarely out of the news. I spent an enormous amount of time thinking about it, as I was also writing the second of our ICT Foresight reports - 'how online communities can make the net work for the VCS' and from anecdotal evidence it appears that the sector is beginning to get to grips with the potential of online communities, both 'bounded' groups (eg forums that people log-in to join) and the more flexible networks which individuals are increasingly developing around their own interests and values.

But there's much more to making connections online than whichever social networking site is flavour of the month. Going back to the notion of more flexible networks, these are increasingly operating across a range of websites, and are driven by the tagging of information and the services that scan the web for connections (eg technorati). It's all pretty difficult to understand in the abstract, which is why I was delighted to read this story on Simon Berry's blog, about how he connected with someone called Jack Thurlston. It's definitely worth reading, but here's a taster:

Last night I was listening to a podcast by Jon Winston from Bikescape using iTunes. Coincidentally, I had the Last.FM program running. This told me that 323 Last.FM users had also listened to this podcast while running Last.FM. It told me that it knew nothing about the 'artist' (Jon Winston). It also told me that there were two 'Similar artists': Jack Thurston and Scott Alumbaugh.

Last.FM knows nothing about Jack Thurston either, so I do a Google search and find his blog. At this point I realise that I have come across Jack before. He also does a podcast with a cycling theme*.

I read on and realise that we don't just share an interest in cycling but there is also a rural thread in common. I then remember that my colleague, Paul Henderson, highlighted one of Jack's projects to me about two week's ago: ... The chances are that Jack will find this post because he (or someone who knows him) will have his/her RSS Reader set up to scan for people writing about The Bike Show or

You'll have to go to Simon's blog to see whether Jack did indeed find Simon's post!


Last updated at 15:08 Mon 18/May/09.
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Dear Megan,
Have you thought about developing a 3S4 Group on Linked-In (oir an NVCO Group)?
With best wishes,

Megan 's picture


Third Sector Foresight

Hi Stephen
We were considering a facebook group for a while but I wanted to find some time to think through what the benefits would be and how to make sure that it didn’t lie dormant (and haven’t yet!) Do you think a linked-in group would be good? What benefits would it bring?

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