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This article was published on November 17, 2008

Dear Web, please help me get outside

Dear Web, please help me get outside
Patrick Cushing
Story by

Patrick Cushing

Patrick Cushing is a recent transplant to San Francisco, where he writes about both public companies as a member of Wikinvest and early star Patrick Cushing is a recent transplant to San Francisco, where he writes about both public companies as a member of Wikinvest and early startups on Enter Venture. He previously worked for the NYC government, a software firm in India, and graduated in 2006 from Columbia University's engineering school. Check out his LinkedIn and Blog for more information.

Earlier this week, Boris wrote a bit about the things he hates about the web. After reviewing the new group socializing startup, MIXTT, yesterday, I was thinking about one of my favorite things about the web. It’s those rare moments, when ideas, computer code, and virtual screens somehow turn into fresh air and real conversation. I love when the web helps me get outside and talk to real people.

These days, no matter what your profession, it’s hard to avoid constantly being on the web. You write emails, text messages, and 140 character status updates. You talk to people on Skype, your cell phone, and your iPhone (which isn’t really a phone — especially given it’s lackluster reception). You have all of these ways of trying to recreate real, flesh and blood conversation. Every once in awhile, why not use some of the web’s tools as a way to experience the real thing? Go meet some real people. Go visit some real places.

Group circle (source Synova Group)

Go to an event

Back in the days before the web, finding out about an event was a bit of a crap shoot. You might see a flyer for the event somewhere or an ad in a magazine or newspaper. With the web, you can find just about any type of event you can imagine. You can find business and tech events on sites like Garysguide or get a list of events by your location with Eventful. You can even find tickets to professional events (i.e., you have an overpriced ticket with a bar code) resold for extra high prices on StubHub, Ebay, or craigslist.

Create your own event

Services like MeetUp and MIXTT help you form both online and real life groups to help both your business and social life. You can create an ad hoc gathering focused on learning something new with a BarCamp event. If that doesn’t work, there are all kinds of other “unconferences” you can create — you can even create your own overpriced tickets with tools like EventBrite.

Find a date

It’s hard to watch TV these days without seeing the dueling ads between and eHarmony. Real people are using these services, and you can use not-so-real compatibility tests to find them. If that doesn’t work for you, try finding dates based on religion with sites like JDate, MuslimFriends, or, Christian Cafe.

Go to China (or somewhere similar)

Ernst-Jan has been traveling around China for the past week with other bloggers. What a great idea! You can find great travel deals on sites like Kayak, Orbitz, or Travelocity. Read about about whatever the places you choose to visit with Lonely Planet (or get paid to write about them) or crash on a couch with CouchSurfer.

Go outside

When all else fails, fire up one of your favorite directions services and walk or drive to somewhere new. You can look up a nice park using one of your local park websites, or find a team to play sports with using site’s like New York’s ZogSports.

The future of the web is all about getting away from it!

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