Speechwriting: Corporate, Weddings, Retirement


Report: The Great Facebook Coffee Experiment 1

For 1.5 hours, we had a Coffee Summit. No press was there to take pictures and ask who drank red or blue coffee, and who drank the Nescafe. At 9:00 pm, the doors closed, and some of us continued the discussion.

I have no amazing pronouncements about all of this. It wasn't that structured to provide 'data' as one might expect in a true experiment.
  1. Dave (pictured in red), a guy I ran with in the 1980s on a track club. Saw him last 25 years ago. He went from a GED to PhD (and two MAs) since then.
  2. Kati, Hungarian woman (know through my wife).
  3. Craig, Kati's husband. I see Kati/Craig semi-frequently. Craig owns a Chicago-area retail and residential painting business.
  4. John, my college roommate. Saw him last two-three years ago.
  5. Dan, John's friend whose postings I have watched recently. Met for first time tonight.
  6. Frank, an artist I know from related art circles. I see him every few months.
  7. My wife
  8. Myself
  9. Stacy, who I know from church, stopped by briefly to say hello.
  10. Phil, who I knew in grad school, had car trouble, and came by at the end. He might have just been nearby serendipitously, or intentionally stopped by. Saw him last four years ago. maybe more, maybe less. Not sure.
10 in all. 2.77% of 325 of my Facebook friends (9/325). Some discrepancy exists between various parts of my account suggest I have as many as 395 friends.

Tough night, especially as many of my church going ones have Bible studies and things, plus, parents have family activities. One person who planned to be there had a death in the family, another person was sick, and many friends live too far.

I had a thing or two planned (minor ice breaker/introduction questions), but dropped even my small agenda noticing the group was small, requiring no ice breakers. Conversation was fun and friendly, spanning art, baseball, soccer, hiking, language acquisition, stand-up comedy (Dave has played many of the Chicago clubs).

It was fun. I went there vaguely nervous, not knowing who would be there. Because I invited everyone, this included some people who might find themselves very different from each other. That might have been a story I might not want to tell.

A few people left with e-mail addresses, glad to connect again later. Met as strangers, left as friends.

It was a good number. At some point, it would be big enough to cause real organization. I was armed only with a Sharpie and name tags, plus a few conversational tools. I never used any of that.

If it hit 25 or more, then I go from participant to host, at which point I will have wished I had a plan B for location.

Small group theory suggests groups are from 3-21, but at 7, they start breaking into subgroups. That happened some, but this group had different overlaps, making integration continual.

I am curious how other invitation methods impact how seriously it would be taken. In this case, I basically only used the Facebook event invitation tool, then promoted it through my status updates, with a final e-mail this afternoon. What if I e-mailed or called the most likely attendees, like those who live close enough? What difference would Saturday make? Morning, noon, night?

Someone suggested this was narcissistic, and that I should not do it. Whether it was narcissistic or not, I have no idea. I saw it as no different, ultimately, as inviting friends to my home, or a couple guys from Boston to have a beer. Only, my home is too small, and, to those I have not met in person before, that could be intimidating. A cafe seemed the easiest, most welcoming thing, and I knew the place and the owner.

As experiments go, I learned some things about social networking. This was by no means a serious experiment with a hypothesis and scientific method, but it had purpose and goals. I'll try it again in six months or whenever, on a weekend, with much more advance notice.
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