Saturday, April 21, 2007

welcome to the twittcapades

Last week at CIL I conducted my first twitter + conference experiment and I have to say, I'm hooked on this tool even more than before. Here's what happened...

First, I recorded some tweets about the sessions or meetings I was attending. At first I did this primarily for the folks following along at home, but quickly realized that my tweets were being picked up by fellow conference attendees in other sessions /and/ by fellow conference attendees in the same session. Same session tweets quickly turned into a mobile IRCtype chat session - we used our tweets to provide commentary on the speaker while in session. Folks in another session could get the gist of my sessions without being there. A full conference experience without the cloning! Rockin'. And the folks following along at home? One of my colleagues mentioned to me in passing "It's amazing how much you can learn about a conference with such short notes from someone else who's there." Indeed. (She's not on twitter but had been following my profile on the web.) Another colleague (this one is on twitter and is my friend and is following me) directed me to a session he hoped I'd attend. Without my tweets, would he even have checked out the program? Not likely.

Second, I used twitter to find people in their physical locations. While at dinner with my fellow IAGer Alane, I broadcast the simple message "where are you?" (since I only follow 8 people I knew I could handle the answers). Several people responded and wouldn't you know it? A bunch of our blogosphere pals were merely across the street enjoying some beverages. Alane and I headed over in haste. Moments later, my WebJunction colleagues joined the fun. Talk about socially networking.

Finally, I used twitter to take notes for myself. You'd be amazed how much you can get into 140 characters. A quick look over my tweets from this last week and I have a reliable conference record, including reminders of things to post and people to follow up with. If my notes are interesting to my friends following, all the better.

I am as surprised by this as some of you. Me? On twitter? I checked this out as an experiment. I am the last person I ever thought would move into mobile online community. I like to read about such things, sure, but do it? And here I am.

What makes twitter work? Once I successfully solved a problem or made a meaningful connection, it was hard to turn back. I've learned this over and over again with my work at the WJ: it's not about the tools we use, it's about the connections we make with them - both to people and to information.

What would make twitter better? Groups that you could separate into channels, still delivered by mobile. There are some creative ways to pipe tweets into separate strings, but it's a bit tedious and doesn't work with SMS (as far as I know). Also, I'd like the ability to block individual people from following me without blocking anyone who isn't your friend. Sorry to my library followers who I inadvertently dissed when I freaked out last week due to JehovahOne's having added me. It was a little silly, I know, but I freaked just the same. Please, follow me again if you like. I promise not to diss you again!

Let the tweets play on...

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