Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Twitter - better than a conference

Along with @nearly_everyone_else, I have spent most of today glued to my monitor, following the #cilip2 tag on Twitter. In case you're not in the know, the key facts:
  1. Twitter is a service that allows you to post your thoughts (a.k.a. "tweets") to the world, as long as you can get them into 140 characters.
  2. Text in the format #keyword is used in tweets to tag them. There are a number of services that allow you to see all the tweets that have a specific tag.
  3. CILIP is the library and information professional organisation.
  4. Someone important at CILIP made the mistake of dismissing web 2.0, the whole profession went into uproar, CILIP have now got Phil Bradley and Brian Kelly a.k.a. important internet and information/library types to lead a discussion today on CILIP and web 2.0.
  5. This discussion has the tag #cilip2 since the full stop in #cilip2.0 makes Twitter cry.
So what is Twitter doing for me in this context?

Firstly, I am able to follow the talks at CILIP 2.0, without an expensive trip down to London. A number of people who are actually there are tweeting as Phil and Brian speak, so I can get the main points of what is being said in real time. And because I am still able to do some work, and am not spending money on travel, my workplace fusses a lot less about my participation.

Secondly - in case you were wondering why video/audio isn't a better solution - I can discuss what is said with other participants, also in real time: if an interesting comment comes up, the discussion can start amongst us virtual participants in a way that it simply can't amongst real-life ones. I've heard it said, often, that the best bit of a conference is the bit where you end up talking to other participants in the hallway. Following #cilip2 on Twitter has had the feel of that.

Thirdly, and this is something that Twitter does exceptionally well, I can easily connect with any of the people talking about CILIP 2.0. It's as if, at a real-life conference, you could monitor all the conversations, decide which people you found most interesting, approach them without feeling you're interrupting something, have a chat, and then continue having those chats regularly when you are back in the workplace. I know it can happen, but, at least to me, rarely with more than one or two people per conference. Today, I think I've expanded my professional network by about 25%. And, granted, the ties aren't all that binding - but I now have a way of keeping an eye on what they're talking about, and engaging them when I feel I have something to add. It's a great starting point for building a more solid professional relationship.

1 comment:

Lyndsay2020 said...

Really good to learn how it felt from a remote location, and I like the analogy about multiple conversations being easier and less intrusive than when people are face-to-face.
Thanks - Lyndsay