terriko: (Default)
I'm going to be attending TEDxCarletonU next week, and since they helpfully provided a twitter list of attendees, I figured I'd follow it and try to get myself even more excited about meeting these folk.

And you know what? It totally misfired.

I was seeing messages like, "Is it just me or have ppl completely forgotten how 2 take phone messages? How does 'I have an Offer 4 u' --> 'Do u want 2 buy this prop?'" Another person tweeted seemingly every other song she listened to for a few hours. These are not the articulate, fascinating fellow attendees I wanted to meet.

I was really disappointed. I'd done something similar before GHC09, and it had worked really well, but this time I was losing respect for my fellow attendees by the hour. So I started thinking about it: Why were my experiences so different?

My first guess was that I had a lot more in common with my fellow GHC09 attendees. But I'm not sure that's true -- they were fellow women in computing, but the TEDxCarletonU folk are local to me, so we should have at least that much in common. And really, there was nothing stopping women in computing from tweeting about every other song they heard that day... but for some reason most of them didn't seem to do so.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that the big difference was BJ Wishinsky, the online community coordinator for GHC. She was busy introducing us to each other, retweeting stuff we said that was likely to interest others, and getting us all hyped about the upcoming conference. She has a real gift for connecting people, aided by a lot of enthusiasm and curiousity. I swear, every conference needs to hire someone like her!

And as I was mulling over a post about this... something changed in the TEDxCarletonU feed. One of the coordinators was starting to post little twitter intros about each of us. Luc talks about how he's trying to encourage us all to network. And you know what? He may not have BJ's gift for the really personal one-to-one intros, but I'm finding that when I scan that twitter list, I'm slowly getting interested in these folk and excited about the conference after all. My mental image of them is suddenly not about what they had for lunch, but about what they want to do. It turns out even if they can't all spell, they are the interesting folk I'd hoped to meet!

So thanks, Luc. You turned what could have been a disappointing experience into one that's growing more interesting by the moment. And conference organizers take note: pre-conference social networking can burn bridges as well as build them. Do your best to build!

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