It dawned on me that upcoming “What are you doing now” app Twitter is actually a really good tool for coworking.
I say this for a number of a reasons and will make one and a half feature requests.
First, Twitter is a global consciousness app. Basically, you sign up, tune in and shout out.
You can also use it for productivity or virtual teams, but I won’t get into that here.
What I’m more interested in is 1) finding social energy while you work and 2) knowing that you’re not in the slog alone. These two ideas I think fit really well with the ethos and spirit of the coworking community.
Indeed, more often than not, folks look to coworking to sate a need for social interaction that, let’s face it, you just don’t get from instant messaging or video chat. Being around other people and having them in your peripheral vision reinforces your choice to keep at it and stay focused. it also means that you’ve got people nearby who can help you “unstuck” yourself.
So, when it comes to letting the world know what you’re up to, Twittering allows for the least bit of interaction with the most possible return: with 140 characters or less, you tell the world what you’re up to and receive the same kind of pings in return. When you’re in a room full of coworkers, the social benefits are amplified since you can sense that you’re part of a much larger story than just your coworking experience that will continue on long after you’ve retired for the evening. And, being able to read about what other people are up to and how many of them are doing great things conditions you to get your priorities straight and pursue the things you love to do, just as other people have given themselves permission to do.
Now, in terms of those 1.5 feature requests, I’d love to see publicly joinable groups, in the sense of collated geographies of people. An awesome mashup would take all the people at a Plazes location (like Citizen Space or the Hat Factory) and make them subscribable as a group. This could also be done easily if people used their zipcodes on their profiles, but people move around, so Plazes would be more timely.
Additionally, it would be nice if you could move into an “earshot group” as you migrate from one coworking space to another — automatically subscribing to non-friends as you travel. It would be like being able to listen in to all the calls passing through the the cell tower that you happen to be on at any given time. This kind of “ambient socialization” or “digital overhearing” would nicely accelerate serendipity and potentially increase how quickly you’re able to acclimate to a new environment.
That’s the idea anyway, I’ll leave it up to the clever coworking folks to figure how to mitigate that kind of mass of information.