Bowling Alone Yet Standing In Line Together

by Marianne Richmond on July 1, 2007

Robert Putnam in his book Bowling Alone, The Collapse and Revival of American Community, writes that our social capital has declined and that we have become disconnected from family, friends, civic involvement, and shared experiences. He notes that more Americans are bowling than ever before but that the number of bowling leagues has declined precipitously. I am not doubting the validity of his research, I just think he is missing the social web.

Take the iPhone for instance….Thomas Hawk, CEO of Zoomr writes: "Before I dig into the iPhone I thought I’d reflect back a bit on the last 36 hours or so. First of all, to those who say it was stupid to camp out overnight at the Palo Alto Apple store when I could have gotten it waiting only 4 hours in line at a At&T store somewhere else, you just don’t get it.

Camping out last night at the Palo Alto Apple store was not about an iPhone. It was about an experience. Something that I value far more than my new iPhone."

It wasn’t just "an experience"….it was a shared experience. It was shared in person, in lines and shared in live streams. AND if it weren’t for the social web, I wouldn’t be sitting in St. Louis, Missouri clicking on a link and seeing Robert Scoble in Half Moon Bay, CA on the cover of the Mercury News and nodding first in recognition, the I "know" him phenomena; then "WOW…Robert Scoble, former Microsoft guy, was standing in line for an iPhone wearing a t-shirt that says," I got iPhone."

iShare….experiences. And that t-shirt beats those bowling league shirts hands down.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Pete July 2, 2007 at 9:57 am

Nice post – you helped make a connection for me here. I’ll admit that I thought the Apple store lines were a bit nutty but you reminded me that on a Monday night about 14 years ago, I was waiting in line outside of Tower Records on South Street in Philly, waiting for midnight to strike so I could be one of the first owners of the new Pearl Jam “Vs.” album. Today it seems that geek have inherited the earth and our congregating happens most often for tech bling!

Marianne Richmond July 2, 2007 at 12:30 pm

Yes, it definitely seems that way…at least from the “center of the universe” that is the center of our universe. I am not sure that the St. Louis newspaper even mentioned the “event” much less made it front page news like the Mercury News.

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