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15 January 2005

Getting personal - Tribe

I have been hanging out on Tribe a lot. Ideally, I would like it if all my online friends, and all my real-life friends who go online, would join Tribe. I have tried wikis, Friendster, LiveJournal, yahoo groups, Google groups and group blogs, and I have to say this is the first online "thing" I have encountered in the 21st century that really works more or less as it says on the label. It actually can be a form of online community.
Here is how it goes : you sign up, no need for an invite, although you can be invited, nor to pay, although you can pay and get merely the satisfaction of supporting it. You define a profile, as forthcoming or not as you like. You can upload a lot of photos, and you can choose one as your "main" which will appear in a little avatar by all your posts, listings, messages, etc. You can send a message to anyone. You join tribes (I have joined about a hundred so far.) The tribes work a lot like newsgroups or forums in that you post to create or reply to threads. You ask people to be friends, and unlike friendster you don't have to know them first. (They can always say no!) I currently have 20-something friends, only one person said no to a friend invite, and two or three just ignored it. Three of the people who are my friends I knew already - my two kids, and my daughter's good friend Ursula. One is someone I "know" from his blog, and he knows me the same way. I visit Tribe every day, sometimes several times. I love getting messages on tribe.
One of the really good things about Tribe, and like all its other qualities it is something it borrowed from another "product" and slightly improved upon, is that it is localised - you tell it where you live and it sets your location. (Of course you can set a location other than where you really live if you want to.) This is good mainly because of listings - you can list job openings or searches, places to rent or for sale, items for sale, services, upcoming events, both public and private, recommendations of things like restaurants, coffeeshops, bookstores. So Tribe can connect you in the real world, too, and not just in cyberspace.
If you want to enrich the quality of your online interactions and grow a bigger network of like-minded people, I strongly recommend Tribe.
I have posted here before about how I don't have many (well, any) friends (well, close friends) in the UK, and what a wrench that was after the vibrant, encompassing but not restricting, community I had in Minneapolis. I am trying to use Tribe in tandem with another great web-based idea, Meetup.com, to meet more people, and not just random people, but people I have something in common with, and can maybe have some social activities with. Last week, I went to my first meet-up, but it was not a blogger's meet-up, where I have been putting most of my attention, it was a Book Crosser's meet-up. There were only two people there, but they were Good Quality People, so it was worth the trip. (Well, it would have been, if not for damned Central Trains stranding me on a halted train 5 miles from home from 9:15 to 10:45 pm. But that's another story.)

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