Kottke on meeting people through websites: “Anyone who meets me online -- including possible friends, fellow Web design enthusiaists, or potential employers -- has access to 4+ years of my thoughts before they even have to strike up a conversation. That's damn powerful stuff.”
This is in line with what I've been thinking about lately. I've met a lot of interesting people I've online, and the vast majority of them have been people who found me through my website. I've even been fortunate to meet some of them in the physical realm. Some people whom I'd describe as online friends (since that's where the majority of our conversations take place) I've actually met IRL before I knew about their online lives, like David and Tina, and some, like Lisa, Chunshek and Paulo, live so far away that online is the only way to communicate (Lisa and I have chatted on the phone twice, so we actually know what each other sounds like).
I'm not so sure about the matchmaker stuff the guy Kottke links talks about though. I still think that, despite articles on Salon.com and the like to the contrary, online dating is a little weird and awkward. In this field I have a little bit of experience, but due to the killer combination of trepidation (it's still weird explaining to my parents that I have online friends, much less that I've tried my hand at online dating) and laziness (my ad is devoid of hilarity), it's never gotten past the email stage.
Then again, this is the year 2002, and I know people who actually put online ads because they want to meet new people. It's funny though, because I didn't initially think of blogging as a way to meet people nor as a way for them to get to know me (my intentions were purely self-interested, in that I wanted to get the repetitive thoughts in my head out of my head). Now though, I think of blogging as a really good way to get a fairly detailed first impression of a person, keeping in mind that people's online personas are different than their offline ones (oh, don't deny it, your online persona is different than your offline persona, however slightly).
So now when people say to me that they've heard a lot about chatting but are having trouble meeting people online, I just tell them to put up a website, preferably a weblog.