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possibly a significant one, of people. A community is easier found by individual buyers (thus attracting custom) and has more clout when recommending or sanctioning others. That


there is strength in


numbers, in a most exponential sense, is powerfully shown by the way the web’s social networks encompass the globe and reach far beyond oneself or one’s immediate contacts.


And, of course, a key feature of the social internet is that communication is dynamic and sustained. The ease and instantaneousness of tweeting means that you can receive feedback and respond to it as swiftly as in a conversation


but from anywhere


in the world and almost at any time. It is much easier to generate and maintain direct


interaction


with customers and appreciative admirers when you are limited to the 140 characters of a tweet or have your social network profile loaded on your smartphone and it brings some humanity to the otherwise


54 | ukhandmade | Autumn 2011


sterile and impersonal world of online commerce.


It is precisely because of this that e-commerce need not result in the sort of robotic, cookie-cutter soullessness that was prophecised by those who exclusively favour physical selling.


The online market is more like a marketplace such that buyers and sellers can have a chat, understand one another, understand the uniqueness of the craftworks on offer, and leave with a happy feeling that one person can and does, make a difference.


There are, then, numerous


possibilities for an artisan to engage in a craft-based community with all the acquired knowledge and influence that comes with a motivated group; to reach and ‘meet’ an appreciative audience;


to help


admirers and customers express their esteem and understand the skills involved; to communicate


the fragile nature of some of these skills and crafts; even just to receive feedback and gain insight and knowledge necessary to improve one’s work.


The social internet means that artisans have more influence, more autonomy, and more opportunities than before; a powerful tool indeed.


Illustration by Jo Askey of Askey Illustration


HELLO...


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