I have pondered before on the real utility of Twitter, often in not a very positive way. I have to admit that experiences with #JISC09 has caused me, yet again, to reconsider my views. I have gone from being massively irritated to being reassured and gratified and I imagine that the real position will end up somewhere in between.
I attentively sat monitoring the tweets via Tweetdeck during the pre-conference sessions and was unable to stop myself from jumping in. Queue massive irritation. There are those twitterers who seem to approach all things from a negative head space. Nothing was right for some, actually a very few, of our absent and distant (Bath seems to hold a few of the more obvious ones) followers – ‘the questions are all set up’, the ‘topics dull’, ‘why don’t they ask this obvious question’, with their comments delivered in the smug, self satisfied tones available only to those who couldn’t organise their way out of a paper bag let alone do better than the efforts of those they feel so able to criticise.
But happily for my (and my colleagues) sanity and blood pressure things improved – queue reassurance – more people joined the flow, the diversity balancing out the more trying Twits, and a more rational stream of comments followed. This was the point where I started to see what the benefits of Twitter can be – instant feedback (not always positive, but then not always gratuitously negative), suggestions that can be acted upon straight away and so improve the delegate experience, evidence that the reach of the event extends well beyond the usual confines of the conference, and a mounting body of evidence about the sense of success or failure of the event.
Yes it is fun to get a flood of comments about your event, its gratifying in an obscure way to be top tweet event or whatever its called, its certainly great to stretch the event, but it all takes a huge amount of time, effort and resource; not that I begrudge it, but it adds significant stress to what is already a trying and exhausting process.Overall it was an event that has made me re-evaluate the utility of Twitter, it really does have value and a real contribution – but why do some people (even if they are few in number) have to be such negative, destructive and determinedly smug? Perhaps they also drive cars with long bonnets to denote their miniscule genitalia…