Let me just start by saying that if you have never been to one of Jeff Pulver‘s #140 Conferences, go! Go as soon as you can! Find the nearest one, and sign up now. It is an amazing experience, full of energy and hope. It is like experiencing the best of Twitter within a common, physical space. People come together to share what they are passionate about and it opens your eyes to the joy and power that people working together can have. On the one hand, it is about Twitter and how social media is changing the way people relate to each other; on the other hand, it is about the energy of human interaction, about how we can, in fact, make the world a better place when we share our dreams and build communities.
The conference is run almost like a Twitter stream, with ideas washing over you as you listen. Each speaker is given 10 minutes, no time at all in comparison with other conferences. It is just enough seconds to present an new idea, challenge an old way of thinking or express a emerging dream. That the speakers used Twitter is almost, but not quite, incidental. It is fast and furious, from the first speaker to the last, each one passionate about how and why the new connections that they have made are significant: artists, social workers; entrepreneurs; people with different illnesses; educators (that was the panel I was on). One after another person took to the stage to share, and the effect was almost overwhelming. So much change and so many possibilities.
And it was social media, and more specifically Twitter, that allowed isolated individuals to connect with others who shared a common dream or cause. The women who suffer from Lupus found others to walk their journey with them. The artist found a patron. The activist found other activists. By reaching out through social media, people could join into new communities that supported and encouraged them, and which then began to affect real and lasting change in the world.
Just a few ideas that I took away from the beginning of the conference:
We need to help each other to manage the flow of information that is all around us on Twitter. When we retweet something, it becomes our “digital clothing,” a sign of who we are. That was from Steve Rosenbaum, @magnify. He calls it “curation.” I was struck by the fact that we do indeed carry our online presence with us, clothing us. It does not go away when we leave our laptops; it stays out there as a sign of who we are. I am known by what I share and by what I pass on. If what I share has value, then I have value within my network. If what I pass along is automatic and without substance, then that is the kind of person I am to the people who follow me. It connected with something that Gilad Lotan, @gilgul, said that gaining your networks trust being critical. To build a network that supports and nourishes you and what you are passionate about, you need to be reliable and add value. It comes back to what I have said before, that being part of a community takes time: time to read, think and share.
Jeff Pulver said, “Humanity is on the rise!” Social media has the potential to connect people who share a common goal or passion and empower each with new energy. In education, that is all for the good of the students! When we, as educators, make those connections, when we learn from each other and grow together, new ideas are generated, and kids are better off for our efforts!
Thank you, Jeff, for all of the hard work that went into making #140 Conference work. After about a half a day, I couldn’t even tweet; I just needed to sit and absorb all the joy and energy that was in that space. People working together to make the world a better place!