Monday, December 07, 2015

Remembering Twitter Events (Everyone)

Last update: Wednesday 12/16/15
If the "unexamined life is not worth living" then it's important to record what really happened: what we did; what we said; what other people did and said; what we said about what other people did and said. Social media, like Twitter, enable all of us to participate in the curation of what happened in our lives to an extent that was reserved for professional historians in previous times. 

Fortunately, today's history is no longer about what a few "learned" people recorded about what a few "important" people did and said. It's about about whatever any of us chooses to record; it's about whatever memories any of us chooses to share with anyone else who's interested. 

Social media can also influence the way we live the events the social media will help us remember. This series of short notes presents a few suggestions about how we might modify the way we participate in the events that we would like to enhance. The modified procedures should make it easier for us to learn from our curations so that our participation in similar events in the future will be more effective. I base my suggestions on hands-on insights derived from curating over 100 events using the Storify application over the course of the last 18 months. Most of these Storyfies have been posted on this blog.

Focus on Twitter Events
My comments focus on Twitter because that's what I use; however my suggestions should also work for whatever social media the reader prefers. Given the primary concerns of this blog, i.e., the activities of HBCUs and grass roots community organizations dedicated to closing of the Digital Divide, I focus on the following kinds of Twitter events ==> chats, panels, meet ups, workshops, conferences ... and hackathons. 

Two kinds of participants
For the purposes of this discussion it's useful to distinguish between two kinds of participants in Twitter events: formal participants and informal participants. 
  • Formal participants include the event's organizers, moderators, featured speakers, honored guests, sponsors, and other names listed on the event's agenda
     
  • Informal participants include everyone else who attended the event either in person or remotely via the Internet. 
My suggestions in this note are for the informal participants; I will offer suggestions for formal participants in subsequents notes.

Twitter events as public, multi-way conversations
In previous times, public events were one way conversations wherein the "sages on the stages" tossed out pearls of wisdom to the "fans in the stands" ... although the "sages" also directed their comments to each other from time to time. 

By contrast, today's smartphones linked by social media enable more complex and potentially far more interesting conversational threads to be woven. Comments can flow to and from any and all participants, formal and informal. Unfortunately, in most of the Twitter events that I have Storyfied, the vast majority of the informal participants acted like they were attending traditional events, instead of Twitter events. So here are a few suggestions:
  • Find the conversation by using Twitter's search box for the event's official hashtag. 
     
  • Join the conversation!!! Speak up; bear witness to what the formal participants are saying; tweet your own opinions about what they are saying; and use your phone's camera to add photos if your are attending the event in-person.
     
  • Include the hashtags recommended by the event's organizers in your tweets ... but feel free to add other hashtags that are more relevant to the content of what you're saying.  
     
  • As in traditional conversations, follow-up on other people's points by retweeting their tweets when you agree with what they said, but reference their tweets when you want to modify or disagree with what they've said. 
     
  • As in traditional conversations, include the "names" of other participants in your follow-ups, i.e., reference their Twitter handles to call their attention to what you are saying about what they said. 
     
  • Finally, be your own curator. When the event is over, assemble the tweets that you found to be most memorable about the event, including your own. Your curation techniques can range from merely copying and pasting the best tweets onto a page that you post on a blog ... to using Storify or some other curation application to assemble the best tweets into a package. Then use Twitter to share a link to your curation page with anyone else who's interested. I admit that it won't be easy for readers who aren't bloggers to become curators. For now, their best alternative would probably be to share links to good curations (that include their own tweets) that were posted on other people's blogs.

P.S. for "techies" -- Ideally we should be able to fork and clone other people's curations, then modify them to suit our particular preferences. Unfortunately, this kind of GitHub for social media app doesn't exist ... yet ... but as more people become active informal participants in Twitter events, it's inevitable that someone will develop an easy-to-use curation tool that will enable us to fork, clone, and modify each other's curations.