I feel the same way as Hugh expresses in his post. When I’m supposed to do any kind of work or business with someone, I look them up on the Web and if nothing shows up, it makes me a little wary. I also feel that anybody who would want to do business with me – like buy something from me on eBay for example, or let me sublet their apartment – would know by looking at my blog and archives that I’m a reliable person. (Plus, they’d pretty much know where to find me if something went wrong.)
I have a theory that much of whatâ€™s happening online is rebuilding the physical, small-scale social networks that we crave, but got destroyed in our modern/suburban/hypercommercial era. We donâ€™t know our neighbours, we donâ€™t know the people we buy from, we donâ€™t know the people in the street. 50 or 100 years ago, it was different. Digital identities allow us to *know* people in a way that people used to know people from their own town – even if they had never spoken or been close socially, everyone knew everyone, and could judge how they should interactâ€¦and now, with weblogs etc, to a certain extent that’s coming back, even for strangers.
Go read the whole thing at hughmcguire.net