Tweeting Conferences

Tweeting conferences is quite a thing.  One blogger exhaustively breaks down just how to do it well.  After attending two conferences this summer, I can now reflect on the use of Twitter at each.  At ESA 2012, a conference of several thousand ecologists, there were quite a few active tweeters.  Just take a peak at the hashtags “#esasocial” or “esa2012.”

Twitter Fail

Hope the LOC is having success with their whole archiving Twitter project…

Just kidding!  Darn!  I tried to go back to find a tweet that had a link to an infographic compiling all the tweets, but alas and alack, I couldn’t access old tweets.  More on this in a moment.

At the second conference I went to, attended by a few hundred ecologists, tweeters were very few and very far between.  While I did tweet a few things at ESA, I did not tweet at the second conference in part because the silence in the twitterverse for #lterasm was intimidating and in part because I was there to observe the ecologists and not really be a communicator of what I was experiencing.

It is curious to me that among seemingly similar groups of people (ecologists!) there can be such a difference on Twitter.  There are probably a few reasons for this.  One is that there was a workshop early on at ESA on social media and people were actively encouraged to tweet the sessions (and it was explained what that even meant), while there was no such emphasis at the LTER conference.

But a second reason could tie in most wonderfully with something I actually learned via my Model Thinking coursera course!  Ah worlds connecting!  How I love that!  So, one of the models our instructor incorporated into this curriculum is called “the standing ovation” model.  So, people have different thresholds of needs for standing after a performance which depend on the quality of the show and the number of other people they see standing… it occurs to me the same processes could have been at work on Twitter.  I saw many many tweeters, and they made the atmosphere a more welcoming one for me.  But also, I went to some really great sessions that made me want to communicate that out to the wider twitterverse.

For me though, I find live-tweeting conferences ultimately hugely distracting.  How  can I pay attention or take notes (though, maybe tweeting is taking notes?  … not the kind of notes I take, I assure you) while tweeting AND paying attention to other tweeters?  I definitely see the value, but it is hard for me to juggle the information coming and going and being produced.  Maybe this all comes with practice though!


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