I first heard the term “meat LAN” (in Swedish as “kött-LAN”) from Björn Erikssen at Ocean Observations back in 2008. By “LAN” Björn was referring to LAN parties, that is when a bunch of gamers meet somewhere in physical space to hook up their computers and play through a Local Area Network. I just add a little twist and rephrase it as meat meet (Swedish “köttmöte”). Simply because IRL (in real life) connotes that the online would somehow be unreal. Furthermore, to me “physical space” simply sounds cold, boring, and less catchty.

Anyway, in a comment after my gig for F-Secure Daniel Grønbek asks about my concerns regarding how online relations affect “old values like communicating face 2 face, enjoying the companionship with fellows in eg. sports clubs, meeting with friends at the cofeehouse and more”?

Well, as far as I can see it we are genetically programmed to meet other humans in all kinds of physical ways. As a matter of fact, most parents fear the moments when their (young) kids want physical meetings with friends made online. This kind of urge is yet another proof of our need to make physical contact. And by “need” I really mean a basic human need. Meetings at LAN parties, sports clubs, coffe houses, etc are just different cultural expressions of that basic need.

Online encounters seems to drive the number of meat meets. As well as how such meetings are organized.  True, all human behaviour might turn into abnormal ways. Like individuals who isolate themselfes in front of a computer screen, reluctant to make whatever contact with the outside world. But such acts are exceptions, not the norm(al). On a personal level I tend to always want to meat meet people that I initially  have learned to know online.

A few contemporary forms of such novel meeting forms are tweetups, bar camps and unconferences (when initiated online). Again, we humans will always want meat meetings. As history goes on, and new technologies emerge, we develop new and interesting meeting formats. Of course these include online meetings too, like skype calls, MSN chats, twittering, and video conferencing.

But there is even more hope for a more humane look at business meetings. In 2006 I developed the Meeting model Connected (Swedish Mötesmodell Uppkopplad) for business purposes. Doing that I came to the realisation that as more and more of our “business meeting needs” could be satisfied with online tools, the “human needs” for effective group collaboration would become more appearant. And perhaps acknowledged with its true face. Most business meetings include a “social side”, be it as coffe breaks, dinner, dancing, bar hangouts, etc. Hence, I am looking forward to future business meetings with the sole purpose of meat meet. That is, meetings where the main (deductable) purpose actually is to satisfy our need to make physical contact (without talking business).

If you see what I mean…