I spent the week at AECT in Louisville, KY. The funny thing is the conference is attended by those who are paid to be edu-geeks, but I had about the most powered down week in the past 3 years. I had the awesome opportunity to meet f2f with 12 or so of my fellow ODU PhD students, as well as all of the professors in the instructional design and technology program. However, we spent very little time talking tech and just ... talked (oh, and ate and drank ... and laughed ... a lot).
By now, I am very aware of the various levels of friends one makes and keeps (and loses) in the online world ... and used to the "first meeting" of "long time online friends". However, I am always amazed at the incredibly short time it takes for "online friends" to transition to "f2f friends". Well before we got to KY, I knew how many kids everyone has, where they work, and what they looked like (enough to grab most in bear hugs as I first saw them in the conference hall). As we talk about a lot on ETW, there is nearly complete transparency in long time online relationships. While one can TRY to create a different online persona, the "real" person inevitably shines through to the point that there are usually no surprises during the first f2f meetings. However, my school friends for some reason seem to percieve me as a bit of a teacher's pet (suck up?). I have NO idea where they get such a perception :)
But ... after a week of amazing f2f bonding, I miss my online buddies ... a lot! I just got a happy fix with pictures of o&poe all decked out in their Halloween duds. I also started receiving completed interviews from my twitter network and am so touched by the level of detail folks are providing within their responses. Bottom line ... I (heart) my online network.