One of the cooler things I’m seeing on our social computing site Zude (www.zude.com) is interaction among a diverse group of users. No gerrymandering here.
A couple of analogues come to mind. One is Billy Bob’s Texas: a big old honky tonk in Fort Worth, where 20-somethings rub shoulders with 60-somethings — especially when there’s a good country band in town. The other analog is the NYC borough of Queens — the world’s most successful melting pot — where there is more tolerance of different cultures and religions than anywhere on earth. It doesn’t make the papers, mind you, but it’s there.
On Zude, kids learn about 70s Punk Rock from people who were there. Northerners experience Zydeco line dancing for the first time. People continents apart share their “art.” People seem to engage one another on Zude, whereas they might never do so out in the world. More important, we haven’t been labeled “for students” or “business people” or “friends.” Hopefully we won’t. Our sweet spot is user freedom and so far it’s attracting all kinds. That’s new…and that’s news!