I had a great time celebrating my 30th reunion this weekend at my alma mater, Northwestern University. It was amazing to catch up with classmates - some of whom I hadn't seen in literally 30 years. It was amazing to see how some people seem very similar to the way I remember them back in school, whereas other seem completely different. The act of getting classmates together after a bunch of years can be tricky. In school, we each developed certain identities – an academic, an athlete, a class clown, Mr/Mrs. Popular, the wallflower, the stoner. And with those identities came pretty strong cliques. Kids tended to hang out in groups where they identified with each other. And once those identities became established they were nearly impossible to change. 

Identities Evolve Through Transitions

One of the beautiful gifts that transitions from high school to college and then from college to the "real world" provide are the opportunities to change your identity. You could go from class clown to student leader (big jump!), from athlete to academic, from quiet to outgoing. I’m one of those who didn’t change a lot as I went through those transitions, I guess because I was comfortable with who I was. I did change the part in my hair from down to middle to on the side. Now I don’t have enough hair to even comb anymore. 😉

Sharing Moments Remotely

One of the things that really struck me going back to my reunions was that there was a handful of classmates with whom I was connected on Facebook, and we had each shared enough life moments over the years that we had developed insights into each other’s lives. We had shared happy moments – like birthdays, holidays and vacations – as well as sad/trying moments – like family accidents, deaths & lost jobs. I would go so far as to say that I knew them better and felt a stronger connection with them through Facebook sharing than I did from our time together in school.

Limitation with Traditional Social Media

This increased connection through Facebook was great with a handful of friends, but for the majority that didn’t exist, because sharing on Facebook (and other social media) tends to be binary – share with all your friends or with none. There aren’t good ways to share with specific groups of friends. Even though Facebook does have groups and now promotes it heavily - precisely to build more intimate connections - groups are not structured well and generally not well utilized for this kind of sharing.

GreatAlbum Fills a Gap 

This is where GreatAlbum could be an amazing platform for helping specific groups enrich events they share together physically or remotely. In the case of a graduating class, we have the moments we shared in high school, now during our reunions, and we also have key moments between reunions that we might want to share to keep up on each other's lives. Rather than sharing just a stream of media across posts, content is typically shared as events, with media, stories, places and individuals tied to the events. Event can also be categorized. This makes it easier to follow what's transpired for a classmate over time, and also to celebrate common kinds of events across classmates, such as weddings, children, careers and hobbies. It also makes it easier to create video montages of events each year for an entire class, by "playing a movie" of events with a featured photo of each event.

What's also really cool is that these events/media/stories, while shared with a class group in a "NU Class of 1990 Album" can also be shared in other Albums, such as extended family albums for each class member, so they can be enjoyed by multiple groups of family/friends.