Mindjack has a very good feature article on the front page by Joshua Ellis. Taste Tribes is the name he gives to the interconnected groups of people who identify with each other via the media they enjoy in common.
There's a great line in the film High Fidelity where the main character, Rob (played by John Cusack) makes the observation that he doesn't like people because of who they are – he likes them because of what they like.The suggestions of books, movies, music that we trade back and forth with friends and acquaintances are all part of an unspoken system of judging taste so that we know what to expect from the next recommendation given to us.
I freely admit that I keep track of these little taste tribes in my head, and I think we all do this to some extent. I might garner music ideas from one person and trade back information on what books I've found worth reading lately. These transactions in taste are key to expanding our interests efficiently. In fact, this site is just another facet of a taste tribe (like a really, really small tribe living on a forgotten tributary of the Amazon, but it's my tribe, all mine). If you want to know what I find interesting lately, you read this page. (See? It's really all not so self indulgent, it's just my efficient method of communicating my tastes. You believe that right?)
After all, why do you talk to the stranger in the coffeehouse or in the bar? Unless you're a creepy freak who just bothers random strangers, it's probably because they're wearing a t-shirt sporting the logo of a band you like or reading a book by your favorite author. This spurious connection gives you a reason to talk to them.Related story -- I met Anneke 10 years ago. I walked up to Anneke's boyfriend Jim who was reading A Prayer for Owen Meany, one of my favorite books. I had no clue who this couple was, but I made the decision to introduce myself based on the fact that they must have agreeable taste if they are reading my favorite book. Had I not met Anneke, it is certain I would have never met Stacy, my wife, who was Anneke's post-college roommate in Boston. (That had not so much to do with the article, but I like that story.)