Social Networks, Event Organization, and Local Culture

Linkups are location-based social networking sites with a mission of providing
an exceptionally effective means, within a clear ethical framework, for our members to locate and cultivate the most important resources of life: people, relationships, ideas and experiences.

Was introduced to Boston Linkup through Akesha Baron, a fellow linguistic anthropologist, late last Fall. We met for coffee and talked for hours. Akesha was participating in a Linkup event organized by her husband Kami, later that evening, and she invited me in. Though Linkup meetings often have strict rules about attendees, Akesha and Kami welcomed me in. The event was quite fun and revealed a lot about Bostonians and neo-Bostonians.
Registered for Linkup after coming back to Montreal. Montreal Linkup wasn't really developed then but Jessie, a very interesting Chinese student at Concordia University, did try hosting an event. Though the event didn't pan out, we were able to meet for coffee and are still in touch. In fact, Jessie's introducing me to some of her friends.
Went back to Massachusetts in May and switched my Linkup membership to the Boston site. Attended one event while living in Cambridge, where I met with Tina and Deepa to talk about a number of things including gender roles in South Asia and North America. We briefly discussed the Linkup system and it seems that some cities' Linkup sites are in fact quite strict. Linkup members get reliability ratings and these can matter quite a lot. In some contexts where being "well-connected" matters a lot, it seems that those ratings can really diminish some people's social capital. Boston Linkup seems less threatening, but the Linkup system still displays embedded assumptions as to successful events. For instance, my meeting with Jessie doesn't "count" in Linkup even though it was successful in terms of network connections. Such a system is compatible with Boston culture but might clash with Montreal culture.
Montreal Linkup is still not very active. So members recently received a message prompting them to read the Linkup Good Hosting Guide. An edifying document. Many mentions of fairness and success. The very notion of a good host is quite interesting. Clearly not hierarchical, but very individualistic. It's important that the host be clearly identified. The host is the one who should introduce everyone (even though guests have information about each other). Though care is taken to formulate principles which allow for informal events, emphasis is put on event organization and goals. Apart from the very existence of a reliability rating, the fact that some people are designated as "flakes" is fascinating, from my perspective. From this document, it's quite obvious that Linkup tries to accomodate as many different types of events as possible. But it's still set in a framework of hosted events with known guests.
My own experience at organizing events is quite limited and wouldn't make for a success story. But I've had fun in the process, and other people did. For instance, our main wedding party was a very informal potluck during which Catherine's friends and mine were able to meet. In fact, two of my friends hooked up after meeting there. One of the coolest parties at my place in Bloomington was "organized" in a matter of minutes to celebrate someone I hadn't met before that day. He was a friend of some of my friends (Richard Wafula and Théodore Bouabré) and was getting ready to go back to Africa, IIRC. Though that party happened in Southcentral Indiana, it almost felt like some of the parties I've been to in Mali. It'd be pretty hard to do this through Linkup.
We'll see if Montreal Linkup can adapt to Quebec culture.

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