By Sonia Simone
"Imaginary friends who live in my typewriter" is my friend Gavin's term for people he knows from online. I met Gavin on The WELL and he's a classic example of the friends I've made in online communities--smart, accomplished, and interesting.
The WELL has a long tradition of supplementing online community with offline get-togethers. That might be why it's known for the amazing depth of connections that were made there.
Yes, there were exceptions, but for the most part, people who were delightful online like Mr. Jalopy and Howard Rheingold were also delightful offline. Each realm showed you stuff you wouldn't have seen from the other. Online community was a way to get to know someone in a different way. It didn't replace face-to-face relationship, it deepened it. (keep reading »)