Please DO Twitter In My Sessions

(Originally posted 2009-04-09.)

It’s approaching conference season again – at least the UKCMG / European System z Conference portion of it.

Bearing that in mind I want to share this article with you: “Professor Encourages Students to Pass Notes During Class — via Twitter”. It’s well worth reading the comments that follow the article. They’re rather more enlightening and illustrative than the (short) article itself.

I’ve been in the habit for two years now of Tweeting in sessions where I’ve been in the audience. Yes, some of it has been irrelevant to the topic but much of it has been relaying items of importance from the session itself. I hope it hasn’t been too distracting, and certainly I’ve used “low key” technologies to do it. (Of course before that I’d blog about sessions.)

Now that Twitter has become mainstream (evidenced by me no longer asking “are you on Twitter?” but rather “what’s your Twitter ID?” and the HUGE onrush of people (including mainframe folks) onto Twitter in the past year) I’d expect a fair proportion of people in my audiences to be on Twitter. And so we can begin to do what the article suggests: Encourage participation via Twitter.

So, in MY sessions please feel free to use Twitter. If you want to turn it into a “back channel” that’s fine. In fact, as the article says and the comments amplify, that’s a very valuable thing to do.

If you happen not to be in the room but some friend of yours is feel free to tweet at them to get them to ask questions. Or whatever.

I guess, as a presenter, the thing you fear most is “loss of control”. Personally that’s a very minor fear for me. I’m much more interested in making the time we have together, thinking about the topic and hopefully discussing it, as valuable as possible.

A while ago I adopted the practice of leaving my favourite Twitter client – Twhirl – on. It was a fun stunt to pull – as tweets flew across my beloved presentation foils live on screen. πŸ™‚ I mightn’t do that anymore, though some of the tweets undoubtedly were FAR more interesting than the slides. πŸ™‚ And, though I’d like to be able to, I don’t think I can tweet and speak at the same time. 😦 So don’t expect me to participate until after the session.

One other thing: I realise that not having access to Twitter during a session is disenfranchising. And it’s been annoying when I’ve been in the back of someone else’s session when NONE of my Twitter clients – whether on phones or laptops – have been functional.

But, in general, feel free to use Twitter whenever I’m presenting. And hopefully I won’t give you much occasion to tweet about my dress sense. πŸ™‚

Published by Martin Packer

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