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2011/04/13

Proper Uses of Social Media: Conferences

I heard a story once, about a decade ago. A guy comes in to present on Deep Technical Subject A to a conference room full of people. They all had laptops, and the guy thinks, more and more as his talk goes on, that he's dying, that they're all there by fiat and everyone's just sitting and browsing and hoping for the presentation to be over.
He goes through his slides, giving it his best, and gets to "Are there any questions?"

And the questions are good. Well thought out and to the point. Turns out that everyone was on IRC and discussing the points of the presentation as he presented.

We still have IRC, but you can still wear bow ties and spats if you want. Today's thing is Twitter, and many conference suggest a hash tag by which you can follow and discuss the current goings-on. I've seen it suggested for a few things, and I've been disappointed in the past. I can only hope that it's a flyover-country thing and bigger events in bigger areas have more vibrant tweets. Purdue's BoilerWeb 2011 had some great discussions on the #bweb11 hashtag, and there was some nice interaction at Indiana Linuxfest.

I can understand if people don't want to dive into a stream of people mindlessly photographing their meals for everyone to see, but here is a case where it really makes sense.