One of the best bits of this new office is the extra collaboration I can have with Dave. Traditionally, for most of the time we’ve been at separate ends of the country: he in Edinburgh, me in Oxford. But now we’re at the other end of a joint desk, if we have a question or an idea to bounce across, the turnaround time has been reduced to nil.
This, quite simply, is why online interactions will never replace face-to-face. I can respond to Dave with a shrug, a facial expression or a half-finished sentence, and he’ll instantly know what I mean (most of the time); try doing that in an email or an IM session.
The way I see Elgg working is not as a replacement for face to face interaction, but as a way to encourage more of it. You can find people who share the same interests as you in an institution – but once you’ve found them, why not talk to them over a coffee? Just because you’ve discovered someone online doesn’t mean your interactions have to stay online. Some of the most interesting people I’ve ever met, I discovered through the Internet because we shared some interests. It’s a great catalyst.