Twitter is one of many social networking tools where friends/followers read posts about what someone is working on, something happened in their life they want to share, debate world events, get advice personal and professionally, and generally interact or converse with each other. Twitter is known as micro-blogging and each post is limited to 140 characters. Each post is known as a tweet.
One of the uses of Twitter that has bubbled up in the technical community is getting a feeling of what is going on at conferences as they happen. People at the conference post comments about sessions they attend, what they learned, who they talked to, and problems solved. These tweets can help other people at the conference to alter their schedule to make sure they catch the next offering of a great session, or find a meet-up that is happening later in the evening. Those who could not make it to the conference can live vicariously through the posts too. There have been several non-VFP conferences I have followed through Twitter this summer and fall. It is an interesting experiment for the social networking community.
I have lived on both sides of this. During the Prague conference this year I read terrific posts from Olaf Doschke (VFP MVP from Germany) who posted tweets throughout the conference. I read each post wishing I was there. During Southwest Fox I did not get to tweet at all because I was busy speaking and helping run the show. At the recent German DevCon I tweeted throughout the conference, but not as much as Olaf did in Prague. I found my tweeting experience to be fun. The key to tweeting at a conference is to include a hashtag in each tweet/post. Hashtags are a keyword you can use later for searching. At SWFox the tweeters settled on #SWFox.
So how can this hashtag be used now? Twitter has a search site you can enter in keywords or hashtags to read posts with those keywords. So if you want to read what people were tweeting about during Southwest Fox 2008 all you have to do is go here:
and enter in #SWFox in the search text box. You will find many posts and see what sessions people were going to and what they learned. I went through them this morning and re-read some of the posts. Made me almost feel like I was back in Mesa.
Since the conference several new people who were at the conference have joined Twitter and are following others they met at Southwest Fox this year. You may think Twitter is a time sink and I am not going to pretend I don’t spend time reading posts, but I learn stuff from the posts and have fun interacting with friends. Best part of Twitter is you are in full control of who’s posts you track and who tracks your posts. You also control when you read and when you skip reading.
It will be interesting to see how this develops at Southwest Fox 2009. There are already a lot more people who are on Twitter so I expect next year’s tweet volume to be much higher than this year.