Another question via email:
On the concept of TAZ (and in particular Greenbelt) I want to tell you about my 16 year old. He has come to love the Greenbelt over the past couple of years as, like many of us, it gives him an amazing space to meet people (ok many are girls!). He spends the whole weekend meeting up with people he met in the previous couple of years and frantically meeting new people. What happens then is the interesting bit – these “Greenbelt” friends then form a large portion of his online Facebook community and the commonality they share is the physical space they shared during the weekend. The TAZ enabling the virtual?
Interesting question – does the TAZ enable the virtual, or the virtual enable the TAZ? What is clear is that TAZ requires some kind of communication network. People need to know that a gathering is happening and that has always been the case. So the virtual can certainly enable the TAZ. Indeed, the rise of flashmobbing and the early illegal raves was perhaps only possible because of the rise of text messaging and other quick forms of mass communication.
I’m not sure that the question is quite correct though. TAZ doesn’t enable the virtual per se, but it does offer the possibility of richer communication, and the virtual has blossomed in this respect as it allows people to keep up with others within a group who may be highly devolved geographically. What might be interesting to see is the level of activity between these virtual friends found at Greenbelt as the year progresses. Presumably there is intense activity post-festival, which may then tail off and then build again as people anticipate another meeting in person. The question then is, is Facebook enough to sustain relationships, or do they require face-time each year to deepen?
I have increasing doubts about whether Facebook is actually a community at all. It is perhaps more like an elaborate phonebook or message board, but I’m still unconvinced about the community side. Perhaps there are communities which exist wi