140 Conf: or How Twitter is helping me get the most out of a Twitter Conference

I’m attending 140 Characters Conference on July 16-17 where I will learn about the State of Now with 139 other participating characters plus attendees, credentialed media, bloggers, and Jeff Pulver the lead organizer himself.

My strategy to maximize my experience is to do the research ahead of time. Namely, to make excellent use of that ever-so-useful page titled The Characters. But who wants to spend time clicking on all of those icons?

Enter Firefox add-ons. Sneak Peek and Who Is This Person are making my research much more efficient, and accordingly that much more likely to remain in my memory where it might do some good 😉

Sneak Peek creates a hover box over a link with a snippet of the linked page according to three regular expressions defined by the user, as described in this tutorial. I created a “Sneak Peek script” by using the Sneak Peek menu item under Tools after the add-on was installed. My script shows the latest twitter updates of any person on the 140 Characters Conference Page when their icon or twitter url is hovered over.

Here is the Sneak Peek script (all are required fields):
Name: 140 Characters – twitter
Author: Sara Streeter
Author URL: http://www.sarastreeter.com
Site Pattern: ^http://www\.140conf\.com.*
Link Pattern: ^http://twitter.com/\w+
Peek Pattern: < ol class="statuses" id="timeline" >[^]*?< /ol >

(Hint: don’t insert spaces into the peek pattern ol tags like I did above – WordPress was interpreting the html tags as styling for this post)

Screenshot for Sneak Peek for twitter urls
Screenshot for Sneak Peek for twitter urls

Who Is This Person I found to be a nice supplement to the Twitter previews. This add-on requires no tweaking and allows you to highlight any name and right click, which will give you an option of “Who is this person” with an arrow down to several methods of checking up on a person (Google, Wikipedia, and LinkedIn are most useful to me).

Screenshot of Who Is This Person Firefox Add-on
Screenshot of Who Is This Person Firefox Add-on

There is another Firefox extension LinkedIn Companion which seems to be more of a bookmarking tool, not as applicable to this situation but still useful.

So far, looking through the character bios and tweets, I am amazed at the influence and depth of experience reflected in the attendee list. If each person is summed as a single character, I would say that is of the same genre as the oriental calligraphic character, in which a single collection of strokes conveys a concise and poetic concept, complete unto itself.

100 ReTweets of Wisdom – One Month Later

As an experiment, 100 RTs was not the most rigorous.  I started at 900 Tweets and I am now at 977, having only actually done 21 ReTweets.  So what did that accomplish?

First of all, I learned how hard it is to give up any tweets at all, for the sake of experiment or other.  I got some follow backs, which was fine.  I found out how difficult it is to find tweets of any substance by using search.twitter.com.

Did I discover cool new people to follow?  Resoundingly, yes.

More importantly, this exercise made me reach out of my twitter comfort zone and find people with no prior connection to me.  This underscores a feature of twitter unique among social media networks – you get to know people based on what they think, not what friends they have.


technogoddess Today, I came out to play when I would have hidden. And it felt liberating. It wasn’t for her, but for me and the next woman who deserves me
Brian McLeod
LoudMac Today is one of those days to just pick one off the list of “everything that cannot be completed today” and knock it out.
mikhelk Sometimes I need to be reminded that I always have choices. Often many more than are 1st apparent. No matter where I am or what’s before me.
Rob Knight
robknight Never underestimate the power of a simple message to the client explaining honestly where a project stands. That’s all they need.
Dave Whelan
djwhelan My uncle just joined Facebook. Worlds collide. It can’t be very long before my father and future in-laws join. Maybe the world is too small.
Sarah Dopp
sarahdopp Low tide with storm winds. The water has a huge space to dance with. The ground is covered, then big and empty.
montythestrange Tech section of the office is getting the hax0r vibe; dark skies outside, no lights on by us. PHP Ninjas coding by the light of the LCD.
Maggie Mason
Maggie I want to achieve maximum efficiency without getting all worked up about it. I’m aiming at peacefully frantic. Serene rampage.
patobryan everybody needs someone to look up to and someone to look down on… and apparently, something to fear.
secretsquirrel Spent most of my weekend playing an evil bisexual hooker-warrior in a game. I am worried what would happen if I did not have these outputs.
heyitsnoah Just failed six CAPTCHAs in a row. Does that mean I’m a robot?
CatBailey Why do I get told it’s ironic when I suggest someone ELSE see a shrink? It’s not like I’m hogging the crazy over here. *pissed*
Pedro Valle
petevalle Stealing some WiFi over at Dunkin Donuts. This is the sort of hijinks only a nerd gets excited about.
Nicole Reising
colereising Ran in the rain tonight-decided insurance on my blackberry might actually be a good idea afterall. 🙂
Shannon Thompson
TheBathProject made some Chai Tea with local honey, watching the sun come up over the mountains out back, a beautiful pale pink with orange tinge aaaahhhh
Warlach Oi, seriously people, the internet is not rocket science. “Notepad” is not an appropriate response to how your site publishes content.
matthewktabor bittersweet blog moment: trying to research a topic and finding only your own posts addressing the subject
burstein Met the ex. While it is a bad idea to bring a stick to a gun fight, sometimes a olive branch works out ok.
Rowan Price
roprice there’s a whole new generation of web developers who’ve never had to write actual Javascript, cuz they’re using JQuery. Green with envy 🙂
Karen Cardoza
mrsb Ok.. time to just pick a task and jump right in. There will be no fairies coming in the night to do everything for me.
Annalie Killian
maverickwoman NY times cover story: Obama vs McCain approach 2 maintain US relevance thru technological innovation. Obama strategy better but execution?

Listening and 100 Tweets of Wisdom

I have always been the person with something to say.  Not that I am always producing content, but when it comes to social media it is typically because I want everyone to listen to me.  It’s weird how things kind of come together but I also had my 900th tweet coming up, and wondered if there might be some way I could use those 100 tweets before 1000 to do something more interesting than the usual day to day “what are you doing?”

My last blog post was on copyright and file sharing, and Chris Bloom took it upon himself to comment on it – a great and detailed comment that reminded me of Chris Brogan’s post “Finding Treasure in the Comments” – and inspired me to start reading more of the blog posts of those people I know and follow on twitter.  For the last few months I’ve been an eager audience of Mashable and TechCrunch, but I asked myself, do I know what my friends are working on?

I’ve created a folder in my Google Reader to keep track of rss feeds of friends.  I’m committing myself to comment frequently on their blogs and stay up to date on their projects.  And now I’m dedicating one hundred tweets from 900 to 1000 to retweeting people that I find inspiring, informative, funny, and original.

Now if anyone has any more ways that they like to keep track of what their friends are posting, tweeting, or working on, I’ll be glad to listen.

Creating Buzz through Social Media

Bzzzz … bzzzzz …. oh no kidding, YOUR_EVENT_HERE is happening?
The above represents the cherished goal of the PR/Marketing type person.
So, how am I doing it?

Maintain Your Sources of Buzz
Who goes to events unless someone they know tells them about it with enthusiasm. As for me, organizer of NewBCamp that I am, this is a crucial concern, especially since the networks in which I am active place a high value on the source of the information. For example, do they have a reputation to maintain? Are they connected to a larger professional network? Do they personally know the organizers of the event? A big turn-off for people receiving information from a source may be if that source receives compensation for funneling participants to the event. It’s important that hearing the news about an event doesn’t feel like an advertisement. Working closely with a variety of people linked into the social network spreads the enthusiasm for the event. They take ownership and create exposure by integrating it into their own personal blogs and online presence. Hopefully they are a diverse enough group that they can reach their own friends in different venues, reducing the overlap and sharing with a wider community.

Learn from the Best
I met a lot of great people at Podcamp not to mention seeing how it’s done. My event is based on Podcamp, so the more experience and the more contact I have with the model for my event the better. Nik Butler (loudmouthman) had this to say about how I benefited from the “five rules of social networking”:

  • Arrived at Podcamp
  • she Listened to the Sessions and individuals
  • she Asked questions and then Advised others
  • Provided further information and ideas to the group for the benefit of fulfilling her own visions
  • I am working on the fifth one, which is to Deliver the goods

Nov 4 Post – Loudmouthman Blog

Keep it Current
Whatever you do, update people on it. I use Twitter to keep myself in communication with those people interested in what’s going on with NewBCamp. Microblogging is great because it lets you do a few sentences on what is going on that day, and over time it becomes a record of your progress. A weekly “jam session” type activity has helped as well to keep people’s interest. I do a weekly show on Operator 11 that is interactive and discusses the themes I’m promoting in my blog and for NewBCamp in general.

Centralize the Data
This tows the line where the last blog left off – to avoid overwhelming people with all the stuff I’ve posted all over the place, I’m maintaining a centralized site sync’d up through RSS feeds from the various sources that are updating on the event. As I add to the collage of social network sites, I’m updating the main site to keep people in the loop. Keeping the event organized and making sure there’s communication among everybody involved will preserve the organizer’s sanity and eliminate confusion among those who are just getting the idea of the event.

A good event benefits from buzz – but an awesome event will make its own buzz. I hope anyone interested in promotion of any type of event or product through social media can learn from my experiences, come to NewBCamp, and then invite me to their event 🙂

Scaling The Tower of Babble – Managing Information Overload

Lots of stuff, too little time.  I find that when I am looking for something in particular, either I find it right away – it’s at the top of Google’s list – or I wade through pages and pages of irrelevant material scanning for what I want.  Then there’s reading through feeds in Google Reader – one RSS feed after another that I should have skipped.  Then there are all the e-mail accounts I need to check, one for work, one for school, one for personal/junk, one for personal/private, etc.  Don’t forget the social networks I’m on – need to skim through those and see if anything interesting has happened.  When Robert Scoble was recently banned from Facebook (his account was reinstated after a slap on the wrist), I wonder if he didn’t secretly think to himself “good, one less social network to keep track of”…

Another interesting aspect to this question is how I manage my output of information.  I generate photos, posts, all sorts of login/password/identification info, and somewhere out there that’s all taking up space on various servers.  I know I’m a drop in the bucket as an individual, but every little bit helps.  What can I do to consolidate and “defragment” my online presence?

I recommend applying the 80/20 rule – inspired by Pareto’s Principle.  The idea is 80% of your resources – like your time and attention – are consumed by 20% of your activities – like reading e-mail or RSS feeds.  If you identify the 20% that’s sucking up all these resources, you can narrow down your activities to the ones that give you most bang for your buck – and free up some of that 80%. 

Applying that to my case, I notice that I spend way more time looking at my iGoogle home page than I do checking any of my social networks.  I haven’t looked at my LinkedIn profile, MySpace, or YouTube accounts for probably a month.  Who knows what interesting things are going on there.  Rather than making a special trip here and there to those various social networks, I can funnel them all into Google Gadgets and stick them on the front page.  Ahh, Google.

As for managing my output, it’s all about streamlining.  Consistently using the same user name is good thinking, since it makes me recognizable.  I have a blog, a social network profile, and a personal web page, but I need to merge them and give people a better experience trying to find me.  Taking the time now to do all this will generate time and increase productivity, especially as my online presence grows to be a more fundamental part of everyone’s experience of me.

Getting on board with social media

Utterly crazy month since I posted last.  PodCamp Boston was a revelation to this newbie (I don’t feel as much a newbie anymore) as I now ‘get it’ about the power of networking via all these different vehicles.  How I would sum it up (and I will) is that various people I know can be found on various social media web hang-outs (Second Life, Myspace, Twitter).  So the first benefit is if I regularly visit and update on these websites, my friends will know what’s going on with me.  I like my friends, so this is a good thing.  The other benefit is the whole “web-presence” aspect.  I can increase my visibility to people who are web- and tech-savvy through regular posting of meaty content.  It’s part of the whole “personal branding” challenge (notice use of buzz words – picked them up at PodCamp) of choosing a public face and spreading it around.

   So, what do I have to offer?  Once I’ve attracted people’s attention via the social media network, why should they stick around?  My personal brand is that I’m eager to learn new things and develop as a person.  I see my work and myself as springing from the same source, and both help each other to grow. 

   It doesn’t hurt that all these social media sites are also fun.