BECAUSE THE FIRST SCREEN in my life is my laptop, I get most of my information about events and people through the online social networks where my eyes travel. I travel across blogs (using newsfeeds
(using a handrolled category called "baggage handlers"), LinkedIn
(into the discussion groups) and Twitter
(primarily with search terms). All four of these zones have a lot of noise, so I have to be ruthless in what I see and click. All four of these online social networks can be used efficiently to give some shape and colour to events like OpenCoffee
, something Wannita
is doing at right. If you're an event organiser, it would pay off to invite a knowledgeable blogger to your event. It's a lot easier to get the word out by asking someone who already has an audience to write clever things about your event. I'm prodded to attend events on Facebook as well and before I register an interest, I normally glance at who has indicated they're attending. I've restricted myself to attending fewer events in 2009 and suspect I will be even more selective in 2010. If I know I can hook up with friends while at an industry event, I'll let myself go. If I don't attend, I'll try to find photos from the event on Flickr. LinkedIn also has an RSVP system but I get greater value out of discussions that event managers start on LinkedIn--assuming those discussions actually map out onto the agendas of the upcoming events. Twitter
can create a buzz about events through clever use of hashtags but unless I limit my flow of activity to the event hashtag and replies, I get very distracted during the event itself. That said, Twitter has helped me discover real connections at industry events while using my mobile phone to check newsfeeds, LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. Valuable social facilitation is happening through trusted online networks and I'm glad to be able to see ways on my screens to gather live information through those networks.