On Twitter, Blog aggregators and Conference Augmentation

…if augmentation is the correct term.

In March 2007 I attended the ALT-C conference in Nottingham. After registering, I was invited to give my blog address to the organisers so they could add it to their Yahoo pipe. All the blogs in this pipe were aggregated into a single chronogical feed. At the conference, many people were blogging and using wifi to upload their impressions. It worked really well. If you were missing a talk because you were in a different strand, you could pick up other people’s impressions of the one you were missing. If several people were blogging at the same strand, you got a spread of opinions. It felt like a kind of community and definitely enhanced the experience.

The following month I attended Handheld Learning 2007 in London. They didn’t create a blog aggregator. As the focus was very much on mobile devices, they recommended their delegates subscribe to Twitter and “follow” HHL2007, an identity set up specifically for the conference. I don’t know how they worked this, but if you followed HHL2007, then you received all the twitter updates from everybody who followed HHL2007. About 24 people signed up – I think Twitter was still quite new then. Like the blog aggregator, this enhanced the conference but in quite a different way. It felt very personal and because the messages are limited in length, you couldn’t put a lot in. Instead, the messages were pithy.

Now we have the OU’s Making Connections conference. I don’t think (but correct me if I’m wrong) that anybody has set up any sort of pipe or Twitter account. But delegates are “doing it for themselves”. Many OU staff are now on Twitter and tweeting away like mad. They are also blogging the presentations they attend and reading the blog entries about the presentations they missed.

Martin has set up a rather nice Conference crowd which displays the twitters of all the people he knows of at the conference. Grainne is currently at a conference in Banff and twittering about that, whilst reading the tweets of the people at the OU conference.

I think the key thing to remember about this is that people will only join in if they find it useful. As it seems to be taking off, I think it is.

About Gill

Having worked as a Research Fellow with the Institute of Educational Technology at the Open University, I have now semi-retired but retained my association with the OU as an Honorary Associate.
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