Via Claire Chaundy, I found myself back on Life with Alacrity for the second time this week, reading about the Intimacy Gradient [and Other Lessons from Architecture]. One addition that I have to add to the idea is that communication/collaboration methods also follow an intimacy gradient, from most removed to close proximity. Essentially this means that when initially estalishing trust, people follow a path from means of communication where they feel they are least exposed, moving down the gradient of intimacy toward the most exposed as trust builds. In practice, this means that there is a progression - in my experience - as follows: comments on blogs/postings to BBS; Instant Messaging/email exchanges; exchange of telephone numbers and/or conversation; meeting at an event/conference/organising to meet once(face-to-face); arranging additional meetings (face-to-face); shaking hands (individual space) and other physical contact. Forgetting about synchronous/asynchronous means of communicating, it is simply that levels of social confidence are built into the way we treat certain tools. The best social software, I reckon, both supports or integrates with these means of communcating and offers a path down the intimacy gradient (or is that "up"?).