OK, I admit it, I went to Joi Ito's party last night.
I'm not good at parties; I find small talk difficult, and I'm not sure how to transition into deeper subjects. Marc Canter can (and did) work the room, introducing people to the 'great and good', making an impression, using his internal whuffie display to decide who to talk to. I'm not so good at that.
I was standing by the door, talking with Larry Lessig, John Gage and Dave Farber about examples of people prospering by giving media away free online, and as John and Dave wrote down keywords like 'Baen' and 'Doctorow' on scraps of paper, I realised how used I am to having hyperlinks to hand when discussing these things - It reminded me of the opening of Down & Out, where Julius meets Dan, who is eschewing hyperlinks because he's out of the habit (I emailed John the links later, as well as sending Dave Winer the Postrel piece on why software is different in Silicon Valley & Boston).
What I did find, though, was that I could talk to people I had previously met online, such as Cory, Dan, Joi, Ross, Aaron, Dave, Robert & Doc far more easily, skipping the small talk, and picking up on the things we've been mentioning to each other online. Mutual context is good.