I HAVE ATTENDED events for Irish educators since 2004 and believe the social media back channel supporting those educators peaked two years ago.
At three different conferences held during the past eight weeks, no more than 20% of the entire aggregated attendance shared thoughts on social networks, blogs or rich media streams. I harvested the hashtagged content representing more than 300 participants and the result yields less conversation than I used to see at similar events in 2010 and 2011.
I learn a lot from the cross-talk during and after conferences that span several days. When the electronic conversation falls flat, the whole event can lose its soul.
Analysts who track the increase of followers know one of the prime determinants of Twitter followers is the size of a conference audience listening to a keynote address. If I present in front of 400 people, I routinely get an additional 40 followers--many who listen or watch remotely. That does not happen at academic conferences because the audience demographic listens to other channels outside of those commonly embraced by most of the public.
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