Note taking at tech conferences is passé

Going to almost any conference today you’ll see a sea of netbooks, iPads, smart phones, and laptops- all furiously being typed on. Some are answering e-mails, some are taking private notes- but, there is a whole “back channel” going on- a conversation/archive of the conference in 140 characters or less. You can contribute, follow along, or put down your pencil or digital device- and just relax and take it in- counting on the smart people in the room to write it all down for you- so you can go harvest the fruits of their labors in the evening.

Typically, all the tweets are using a #hashtag to mark their tweets as belonging to your conference. Use one of the tips from the following link- I’ll include my two favorites at the end, and you can be a hero. Just remember- do it nightly- because twitter is shortening the life of tweet archives as the service becomes more popular:

Did you know that your tweets have an expiration date on them? While they never really disappear from your own Twitter stream, they become unsearchable in only a matter of days. At first, Twitter held onto your tweets for around a month, but as the service grew more popular, this “date limit” has dramatically shortened. According to Twitter’s search documentation, the current date limit on the search index is “around 1.5 weeks but is dynamic and subject to shrink as the number of tweets per day continues to grow.”What that means is something tweeted prior to a week and a half ago can never be retrieved via That’s bad for users and it’s definitely bad for data-mining. Unless Twitter corrects this issue on its own, we have to find another solution for archiving tweets ourselves. Here are 10 ways to do so.

via 10 Ways to Archive Your Tweets.

The first two services from the above post are my preferred choices from his options, the third seems to do a really nice job too:

  • The archivist – looks slick, and comes in a desktop (windows only ;( version) or web based. It doesn’t have the ability to go back more than 500 tweets- so, if it’s a big conference- you might want to start it at lunch or sooner. It continues to update as time goes on.
  • Twapper Keeper– which isn’t as pretty a site- but gives a lot more control in what you archive.
  • What the Hashtag– it’s descriptive tags are sometimes out of date- but it does a nice job.

What do you do with your archive? You can edit out the duplicitous retweets- and the invariable stupidity “I love the presenters boots” that some people insist on spewing- and then turn it into your boss- or, you could brand a PDF and send it out with your analysis and thought leading positions as an extra bonus – networking tool. What could be more useful after a conference than a great piece of documentation? Throw in links to all the slidedecks, links to speakers- and you are a superhero.

Unfortunately, I tried to use Twitter search last night- and save the HTML pages- a deadly slow and painful process for – where I spoke yesterday. I have all the tweets- in a pretty sloppy format- had I searched for “Archive tweets” instead of “Save Tweets” or “Search tweets” – I’d be looking like a superhero myself. I hope this helps you- at your next conference. It certainly will be a part of any conference I plan or speak at from here on out.

And if you need a speaker about “How to moderate comments like a ninja” or how to build a website that works for you- easily- feel free to contact me.

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How to get started with Twitter

Found this really simple, 7 step process on how to get started with Twitter. Forget following just the people you know, expand your reach, and find people who are interested in the same things you are:

1. Pick a topic the person is passionate about.

2. Go to and run a search on the term.

3. Find an interesting tweet or post about the topic, and click through to the profile of the person who posted it. If the profile looks interesting, follow that person. Follow a few folks like this.

4. Start a conversation, reply to one of the posts as if you had started a conversation in line at the supermarket.

5. Look for someone sharing a useful website or blog post related to the topic, click through to the blog and consider subscribing to it. Maybe reply to the author via comment or back on Twitter to let them know what you thought.

6. Spend a few minutes in the conversation and see what happens. Try again the next day.

7. Repeat.

via How to Show The Value of Twitter In 2 Minutes or Less | :: a thousand cuts :: adam cohen’s blog.

The real value comes in networking at geek oriented events. A whole other conversation is going on at most conferences among those on Twitter. Find out if there is a hashtag, signified with a # instead of an @ address- and watch the conversation there. Guaranteed you’ll meet more people through twitter than by trying to make small talk at the breaks over soda.

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Using Twitter to engage in the classroom

At geek tech conferences, there is almost always a “backchannel” going on these days over twitter. Audiences are sharing their thoughts in 140 characters or less, in real time about the speaker using a #hashtag.

In fact, almost every sporting event, television show, mass audience, now has a mass conversation tool. But, typically- its only for people “in the know.”

Now, we have teachers utilizing the hashtag to engage a classroom- with the conversation projected on screen in the classroom:

Teachers are always trying to combat student apathy and University of Texas at Dallas History Professor, Monica Rankin, has found an interesting way to do it using Twitter in the classroom.

Rankin uses a weekly hashtag to organize comments, questions and feedback posted by students to Twitter during class. Some of the students have downloaded Tweetdeck to their computers, others post by SMS or by writing questions on a piece of paper. Rankin then projects a giant image of live Tweets in the front of the class for discussion and suggests that students refer back to the messages later when studying.

via How One Teacher Uses Twitter in the Classroom.

I’ve started using twitter to take notes when at events, coming back to a tweet stream that captured in realtime not just what I was thinking- but feedback from my followers.

Watch as social media and  social networking in realtime and in real space becomes normalized behavior in more places over time.

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