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Twittering at cons?


Just saw a blog entry about heavy use of Twitter at the SXSWi conference this year and last.

Sounds like Twitter might be a handy tool for the kind of arranging-social-gatherings that often goes on at sf conventions. I mean, text messages are great for that kind of thing, but Twitter might allow easier one-to-many information spread. For example, if you're at a great party (or a great panel), you can Tweet (am I using that term right?) about it, and if any of your friends are sitting around being bored, they can check Twitter and find out about it.

From what I've seen of Twitter so far, it doesn't really fit my head. I already can't keep up with all my friends' blogs! The Twitter "How" page describes the service as "a modern antidote to information overload," but it looks like the opposite to me. But I haven't actually tried it.

A quote on their front page says: "If you aren't familiar with Twitter, it is one of those things, like MySpace, that sounds totally ridiculous and stupid when you first hear about it. But once you start using it, you realize how much fun it is." On the other hand, MySpace doesn't really fit my head either.

Wikipedia points to a Wall Street Journal article from March, 2007, "Friends Swap Twitters, and Frustration," that says, among other things: "These services elicit mixed feelings in the technology-savvy people who have been their early adopters. Fans say they are a good way to keep in touch with busy friends. But some users are starting to feel 'too' connected, as they grapple with check-in messages at odd hours, higher cellphone bills and the need to tell acquaintances to stop announcing what they're having for dinner."

On the other hand, that article quotes Twitter founder Jack Dorsey: "Everyone says Twitter's completely useless, I don't want all this information[....] We check in later, and they're complete addicts." Then again, I am easily addicted to high-volume information streams, and end up having to drop them cold turkey--did it with Usenet fifteen years ago, have considered doing it with blogs. So knowing that it's easy to become addicted to Twitter is not the best selling point for me personally.

I know at least one of you is using and enjoying Twitter. What about the rest of you? Love it? Hate it? Both? Have you used it at a con? Would you like to? Answer in 140 characters or less.

Or more, if you want to be old-fashioned about it.


Love it. Used it @ BIL con. Unlike LJ, short format allows quick absorption of entries, very easy to catch up after time away.

Also, format requires paring message to essentials to be effective, much like poetry. I enjoy that challenge.

Twitter trips my TMI alarm. Thus I don't use it.

Although the one-to-many messaging during a large event like a convention does sound useful. Hm. Aren't there mobile solutions that offer a one-to-many text messaging feature? Or is that just wishful thinking?

I need to curb wordiness in my writing. Yet the character limit has already been exceeded, see? ;-)

Don't see the point in keeping such close tabs on people, but also see the potential for addiction, so I have no interest in trying Twitter at this time.

I do see its utility for events like cons, though. Also, creative endeavors like this. Exquisite Corpse for the modern age?

Twitter is both the stupidest application ever and a useful network tool. I use it mostly right now with colleagues that I only see once a year at a conference. And I find myself wishing that some of the people I'm on LJ with or I chat with via email were on it. It's a terrific way to maintain loose connections with people you don't see all the time. There's no 'presence' like there is with IM so people aren't pinging you all the time when you're trying to do something else, but if you want to know a little about people and want to carry on a party room sort of conversation it's awesome.

I totally agree. Can't get my head around it and not sure I need the friends' random thoughts --> Twitter --> Facebook status updates "value chain" of real time logorrhea.

Yes, good if you're bored or planning which bar to meet at after a plenary session - or even for general back-chatter. Otherwise, I'm more Sylvester than Tweety so far.

But of course, like you, I haven't done it much.

Sairuh: I didn't realize this, but it turns out that a bunch of cell phones do allow you to send a single text message to multiple recipients at once. In fact, even the iPhone now has this feature (as of update version 1.1.3). (Also, on any mobile device where you can send email to multiple recipients, you can send text messages in the form of emails that are received as text messages, at least when the recipient's text-message service supports has an email gateway.)

But say I'm at a con, and I have fifty friends who are also there, and we all use Twitter. I may not have phone numbers for all of them, and adding all fifty of them to my text message recipients list may be tedious anyway. So instead I post to Twitter, and then all of them who check Twitter (or who have Twiter updates automatically texted to them) can see what I sent.

Re wordiness: yeah, I know what you mean. Someone at work uses five.sentenc.es, but I can't do it. Five paragraphs, maybe. Or fifty sentences.

(But yeah, Twig, I do see the fun in having to work within a constricted format; kind of like writing a sonnet.)

KJ: Neat co-story approach; thanks for the link!

charmingbillie: Thanks for the comments! Interesting to hear about how people use Twitter.

Jed (in case this wasn't clear, that's a different Jed): Good point about general back-chatter, like during a panel or session--less disruptive than everyone whispering in the back of the room.

...I should probably note that I do sometimes like hearing friends' random thoughts, and I can imagine Twitter providing an approach that's easier/faster to read than blogs (and thus that I'm more likely to stay caught up on), and that's less immediately demanding of attention in realtime than IM (and thus that I'm more likely to use). But I think it's still probably not something I'll pick up anytime soon.

@jed am okay with twitter, and have it set to relay to GTalk, but don't use it much.

My Second Life avatar is more of a fan. (She uses a Twitterbox for messages in and out of SL.)

I think it's Twitter's mashability that's its real selling point. It can be easily integrated with just about anything.

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