The power of the internet, focused locally.

It’s always amazing to me when something happens through actions on the internet that affects me in my actual life. On Friday such an occurrence came to pass, and it was one of those moments in which you realize what a truly valuable communication tool the web has become, and in this case, particularly Twitter. Twitter, derided by many in its path to prominence for being just a vector for sharing lunch preferences; Twitter, celebrity soapbox; Twitter, armchair activist bullhorn. It’s always been a tool to me, for conversation, and a connection to people with like-minded interests.

At the office on Friday, we were testing a BlackBerry app that we’ve developed in tandem with an Android and iOS version. Something wasn’t working quite right, and we couldn’t determine if it was the app itself or our handset that was acting up. A sheepish query wandered through our conversation – “does anyone know ANYONE with this phone so we can find out what the problem is?” – and the stark realization that indeed, no one knew anyone with that particular phone became apparent.

I sounded the alert on Twitter – a last resort – and my post was retweeted and seen by someone not even following me at the time. It turns out, this guy not only had the phone we needed, but he was less than fifteen minutes away from our office and was happy to loan us the device. Elated, I made plans to meet him and set out to claim my redemption.

Within a single hour, with Twitter’s help, I managed to get the backup device for our testing, and meet a fine gentleman who ended up running in many of the same online circles I did. Our social Venn diagrams never crossed for whatever reason, but that was quickly rectified, and I marveled at how quickly the entire scenario played out.

It’s stuff like this that makes me tolerate the deluge of stupidity and ignorance surging through the internet. For every million asinine YouTube comments that make me hang my head in shame and lament humanity, there’s one thing like this, but it’s the rarity of it that makes it so special.

Huge thanks (again) to @jdipane for the RT, and to @azeis for coming through with the clutch play.

[Cross-posted here]