Among the tribes of northern Natal in South Africa, the most common greeting, equivalent to “hello” in English, is the expression: Sawu bona. It literally means, “I see you.” If you are a member of the tribe, you might reply by saying Sikhona, “I am here.” The order of the exchange is important: until you see me, I do not exist. It’s as if, when you see me, you bring me into existence.

This meaning, implicit in the language, is part of the spirit of ubuntu, a frame of mind prevalent among native people in Africa below the Sahara. The work ubuntu stems from the folk saying Umuntu ngumuntu nagabantu, which, from Zulu, literally translates as: “A person is a person because of other people.” If you grow up with this perspective, your identity is based upon the fact that you are seen – that the people around you respect and acknowledge you as a person.

[Taken from ‘The Fifth Discipline‘ : Peter Senge, et. al.]

Social networking is growing from strength to strength. As it does our ability to ‘see’ each other expands. Time pressures are forcing us to use more virtual means to sustain connection. This means large and far-reaching implications for how we establish, build and maintain communities- both on-line and off-line.

Second Life may be a bridge too far for some people (right now) but I am meeting more and more parents who’s greatest hope is that they are cool enough to be included on their kids Face-book. I know I am dating myself when I admit that when I was twelve years old I didn’t have a Face-book page – I had a vinyl record collection with three Charlie Pride LPs in it – how cool is that?