Guitars, historically, weren’t a loud instrument. To become the loud things we know today they had to be plugged in to amplification. Cunning bits of electronic wizardry that took a tiny signal and made it much much larger. An amplified guitar is definitely heard!

These days we (at least those of us reading this) are plugged in. We are heard. Our voices are carried by The Internet to countries and continents we may never have visited, and may never visit. Nevertheless, we are carried there. Our parent’s parent’s generation communicated face-to-face. Our generation, and the ones that follow, communicate via technology. We are amplified.

I take a photo. I title it. Tag it. Post it. People comment on it. People add their own tags. People I have never met add to the signal. You write. I read. I write. Others write too. Amplification has unexpected effects, and unintended consequences.

Through this blog I met – in the on-line sense – a gentleman by the name of Galba Bright. Bright by name and bright by nature, he encouraged me to blog more and to think more. You’ll find his comments on many of the early posts here. I learnt about his interest in emotional intelligence and his amazingly positive outlook on life, as he blogged from his office on the other side of the world in Jamaica. Via his blog posts, his comments on my blog, my comments on his, and then conversations via Skype, I got to know Galba Bright.

Then one day he didn’t post. His comments didn’t come. Together with other bloggers in our network, I heard from his family that Galba had passed away, whilst working in that office. Whilst my sense of loss can not compare to that of Galba’s family, his parting left a gap. I never got to meet Galba face-to-face, but I suspect that we would have done eventually, one way or another – he had worked in England earlier in his life. On-line relationships eventually manifest themselves in the real world, and real world connections still create the most powerful bond. We want to meet those we have got to know, face to face, without the machinery in the middle.

Galba’s blog is gone now – the domain wasn’t renewed and a squatter has seized the opportunity to hijack it and fill it with a page full of ads. But his comments here and on other blogs remain. His Linkedin profile is still there, as is his entry on Facebook. Galba was an exceptionally intelligent and immensely encouraging person. He was amplified via the Internet. Galba may not be here anymore, but his words are still read by thousands of people around the world everyday. He might have been on the other side of the world, but our common interest, and the Internet, enabled us to find each other and to learn.

We are all amplified. We will leave a digital legacy behind us that will be larger than any previous generation. Our tiny signals are turned into larger ones. But we aren’t alone on the stage. We have fellow musicians plugging in too. Communities are forming in different ways, around different themes. The Tuttle Club is a community that I enjoy immensely. The London Flickr group enthused me to take photography more seriously. Wiki Wednesdays give me the opportunity to learn from other practitioners, likewise events like WordCamp, MediaCamp, Social Media Camp and CloudCamp.

This evening saw over 100 people from many of those networks gather together at Amplified08, meeting face to face to exchange ideas. Taking on-line off-line and building a network of networks, which is exactly what the Internet was and is. The event was streamed on the net, it generated 57 pages of twitter messages (and growing), and there will be megabytes of photographs and blog posts too I am sure. All this from a meeting at the little dot on the map that is London, England.

We are amplified. We are connected. Whilst this new media will not buy us immortality, it extends our influence beyond traditional physical constraints. It creates digital echos that last long after the moment, and perhaps long after us. In previous centuries we might have influenced several hundred people over the course of our lifetime. In today’s generation, we might influence millions. What will your signal be?