Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Santa Cruz Style: When does social networking become Social Networking?!

I have a secret. I am one of the luckiest people on earth.

Not only do I have a great job as a partner at Listen2Youth, studying young people all over the world as they tell us about how they use technology, but I get to do it while living in Santa Cruz,California.

Until now, I have working in a home office. Sure it sounds glamorous, but that’s because you haven’t seen the laundry piling up in the corner, been toppled by the cats chasing underfoot in the office or heard the chickens squabbling over a snail. I have realized it might be time for a change.

That change is what brings me to my big social networking news – and wouldn’t you know it - it has a “youth” angle. I rented an office today in a newfangled workspace in downtown Santa Cruz that puts the real social back into networking.

The idea is great and it something that is taking off in a number of business hot spots around the country. In Santa Cruz, it’s called NextSpace and for the price of a membership, you have access to one of three different kinds of services that deliver an office experience without the commitment!

NextSpace promises to give me something that I have missed – the social networking aspect of working that I still don’t get on Facebook; or via my many conference calls. At NextSpace, I will work in a carrel with a view of downtown Santa Cruz while listening to the background noise of my co-workers – all of whom will be doing something entirely different from me. And yet I hope to find some interesting opportunities for collaboration, consultation or just plain shooting the …well, you know.

The corollary to this workspace is the promise of an online community that mirrors our workspace community offering ways to meet each other, find mutual interests and even allow for cool new concepts like presence (imagine if I allow the community to know I have “arrived” at the office because my mobile phone tells them I’m there – too cool). This is the workspace of the newest generation of workers – today’s recent grads – my highly coveted youth market and many of them will be there with me.

I can’t wait to join the workspace of a new generation. I have blogged about them before and the new ways they want to work. From what I hear, I will be surrounded by some amazing office mates working on the cutting edge of technology and business.

Now I won’t just Listen2Youth, I will get to be part of it!