6 minute read

For those who’ve been around me for more than a few minutes, you know that I like to be silly, enjoy a great diversity of music, have deep loyalty to family & friends, know a bit about technology, and have strong opinions on almost everything (just ask me).

With that as context, I’m genuinely appreciative for the many opportunities that Twitter has facilitated, directly or indirectly, for me to engage with – and meet in person – so many great folks in 2008.  Of all the people I met in person this year via Twitter, I’d only even heard of one of them before (Paul Kedrosky, with whom I began an email friendship in early ’06).

Funny thing about Twitter is that it removed virtually all the friction normally associated with scheduling face-to-face meetings.  I don’t mean to say it has replaced my calendar or email (yet), but I can assure you that every single one of my most-valued personal meetings this past year was arranged via Twitter.

I met some amazing folks by simply watching my Twitter stream, noticing that a particular person was going to be in a particular place on a specific date & then asking them if they wanted to grab a coffee or beer.  Pretty simple, yet amazingly effective.  One of these meetings was so freakishly serendipitous that it warrants special mention.

In early May, I was on my usual evening flight home from San Francisco.  I sat in the front row aisle (a seat I don’t usually enjoy because of the bulkhead, and had tried to switch earlier in the day), and was listening to my music while noticing that the guy in the window seat was working on a presentation of some sort.  

I noticed ‘technology’ something or other, and finally asked him (over the woman in the middle seat) if he was in technology.  He responded ‘Yes’ in an thick Irish accent, and so I asked if he was from Ireland (I’m sharp like that).  He said ‘yes, but I live in Toronto’.

Here’s where this story gets weird:  I then asked Mark (we had introduced ourselves in the initial exchange) if he happened to know Rob Hyndman or Stuart MacDonald.  A look of shock drew across his face as he nearly shouted “YES!  They are my mates back in Toronto!  Stuart is like my best friend!  How do you know them??”.

Um, Twitter.   And so the friendship with Mark (@markdowds) began in person, moved to Twitter and back to real-life, and the online friendship with the Toronto gang got a bit tighter.  According to Ben Cherian (@bencherian), who Mark introduced me to & I met in person during a trip to Atlanta, Mark collects people, and if Mark likes you… well, that is a compliment that I’m beginning to more fully appreciate.  This meeting has an even weirder twist – Mark was coming to Denver to meet w/ some folks in Boulder, whom I also knew.  Small world, made smaller by Twitter.

In no particular order, Twitter friends that became real friends this year:

@tobiaspeggs  Had coffee w/ Tobias in San Francisco (sorry I got lost on the way…)

@rklau Had beers w/ Rick in Denver when he was here planning Google’s sponsorship of DNC activities.

@pkedrosky  Had milkshakes w/ Paul at Mel’s in San Francisco.  (I am officially on staff as Paul’s Personal Hair Antagonist)  Hilarious that we shared a cab back to addresses that were exactly across the street from each other.  I was at a client’s and he was meeting Stewart Alsop. 

@salsop  Stewart and I met for coffee and traded war stories of the ’00/’01 bubble (I was a CEO w/ lots of employees back then.  Ouch).

@micah  Micah and I met for coffee in Denver.  I learned that Micah has a tremendous sense of humor and some really cool tattoos, plus he loves his dogs & cats and his mentoring.

@andrewhyde Andrew was at one of the Boulder rooftop meetups.  I also met @heyrich, who looks just like one of my brothers, and @davetaylor there, though I had actually met Dave for coffee at an earlier meeting. 

@howardlindzon  I attended a dinner Howard hosted in San Francisco where I also met Eric Marcoullier @bpm140,  Jud Valeski @jvaleski, Daniel Ha @danielha, Emily Olson @emilyolson, Todd Sampson @toddsampson, and several others.  What can I say about Howard?  For one, I now think of him every time I hear Ripples by Genesis – not sure if that’s good or bad… you gotta meet him.

@defrag I saw Eric Norlin’s handle show up in a tweet from @bfeld, and immediately guessed that it involved the Defrag Conference in Denver.  I had missed this in 2007 & was bummed; this year I was going to attend, and here was the conference organizer on Twitter.  Everything I needed to know about the conference I learned on Twitter.  It was a pleasure finally meeting Eric & Kim at Defrag in November.  I’m sure I’ll see Eric again.

Funny thing about Defrag – I met many more folks whom I already knew from Twitter.  These people included Ross Mayfield @ross, Jason Mendelson @jasonmendelson (can’t believe we hadn’t yet met), Dick Hardt @dick, Stowe Boyd @stoweboyd and many others.  I also saw Paul & Howard again at Defrag; Paul & I chatted for a while, and Howard (quite nervously) asked for my feedback on his session (‘How’d I do man?’)  You did fine, Howard.

Almost at year-end, a very cool thing happened: #hohoto.  This has been widely covered elsewhere (go check & come back), so I’ll only say that I was pleased to participate as a remote sponsor.  This incredible event wouldn’t have happened nor would I have known about this without Twitter.  Amazing.  Powerful.

About that same time, Mark Dowds (I may now call him dowdsie) was feeling homesick for Toronto & suggested a meetup in San Francisco (he moved to San Francisco in the fall).  I saw his tweet, suggested a date & a venue, and it was set.  We met with several others that night at one of my favorite pubs in San Francisco’s Financial District, The Royal Exchange.  I was delighted to meet Mason Blake @mase, Sandy Shaw @mandelbrot, Dallas Kashuba @dallas, Nate Morgan @natemorgan, Tia-Marie McGuire @tia_marie and Tia-Marie’s boyfriend (sorry, I never did quite hear your name…).  Great conversation.

As Dowdsie describes it, “…you [John] are unique in that you’ve actually met all these people from Twitter.  It’s easy to meet people in day-to-day life, but it’s something else to meet someone online & make them feel like they know you & want to meet you”.

Thanks, Mark.  And everyone else.  Oh yeah, a special thanks to @ev, @biz and @jack.  Without them, I wouldn’t even know of, let alone have met & developed a friendship with, so many of these fine folks.

Here’s to many more in 2009.  That means you Rob.  And Stuart.  And Mathew… er, thewie.   See you all soon.