After a woeful absence from blogging, *so many people* sent me the news about how the Pope is tweeting that it begged to be written about.  Here it is folks, from @News_va_en:

Though the Pope did apparently send *a* tweet, it doesn’t appear that he will be tweeting in any personal manner anytime soon.

It’s important to note the very real difference between the Pope tweeting once via News_va_en (an effort by the Vatican to leverage new media for communication, sharing, and outreach) versus frequently tweeting for himself.

The Tradeoffs of Personal Tweeting by Public Figures

When other intensely public figures–take US politicians for example–tweet as individuals, the feeling is different (that is, unless those figures actually have interns or PR people tweet “as them.”)  The candor, spontaneity, and authenticity of the person can shine through and endear them to you.

On the other hand, they also expose themselves in new ways, becoming vulnerable and increasing public scrutiny, as we’ve also seen recently with the @RepWeiner incident and more recently as President Obama has started to tweet occasionally using @barackobama.  His staff do most of the tweeting, but tweets from him will be signed -BO.

I am interested to watch how public figures–including religious leaders–will weigh this balance. How will they strengthen candor to connect with their community in authentic ways versus expose themselves to vulnerability.

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Within the past week, two people whom I respect (Jerry Michalski, founder of Sociate and Jen Zogg, an Episcopal priest) both pointed me toward this TEDX talk by Brene Brown (a research professor at the University of Houston’s School of Social Work) on the Power of Vulnerability.

In only 20 minutes, Brown’s research is funny and endearing, yet it cuts to the quick:  We live in a vulnerable world, and we numb vulnerability in order to avoid the fear we feel about connecting to others and being truly seen.

As I think about vulnerability, community, and empathy, I am drawn to a concept I’m calling the Porous Person.  In contrast to an impermeable person, the porous person of the next decade has the potential to be more acutely aware of how their lives (health, financial status, purchasing decisions) are influenced by others and vice versa.

The drivers of this?  social contagion theory & network effects, growth of self-tracking (ie-Quantified Self), digital overlays on our “real-world” experience, and the explosion of context-aware data we’ll have at our fingertips to help tell the story of how we permeate each others’ worlds.