140 Characters Conference So Far, New World Stages, New York
June 16, 2009
Alright, so what's happening at the 140 character conference so far? If you want to see a lot of repetitive tweeting that looks like sentence by sentence transcription, you can slap #140conf into Twitter's search bar (or search.twitter.com). If you're waiting for the wrap-up of an admittedly hostile witness, you're in the right place. I want someone to blow me away with something new. I want to share with YOU something new rather than throw the same old, same old at you. So far, you're not going to get any of that. Mind you, it's the first half of the day, I still plan to drink more coffee, and meeting Pat Kiernan softened the blow of not being able to find a bloody seat in this place.
Let's get bitching out of the way. I arrived to no seating -- found a seat, seat owner was in the toilet. Left seat, walked in front of videographer, got a dirty look. Guess what? The place is packed, and people won't move their laptops so other folks can sit down (you know who you are -- center, third row from the stage, around 10.am.?). So if you were watching the live stream, you probably saw the back of my head and maybe even the F bomb I dropped.
While grumbling outside in the mingly area I ran into Brett Petersel of Mashable, Walt Ribiero, the Internet's music teacher, and wasn't yet introduced to Leora Isreal, who I would later either perplex or offend, but that's my tagline. Robb Blatt, podcaster extraordinare and I threw up some predictions for the day.
I like to use my dad as an example because he's someone who has experienced a huge change in his career and is now catapulting himself "out there" in a dedicated manner for the first time. Self-promotion isn't an easy thing to get cozy with, so I try to coach him as much as possible about scraping away salesy-speak when communicating socially -- and getting comfortable with REALLY oversharing. Think about it -- if you've never "shared" like that before, ANYTHING is oversharing.
Anyway, he can't afford a show like this, you've seen the pricetag. Some of you can't either, because you either don't "know" the "right" person or you're not "media." So I told him to watch the live stream if only to see that this culture is not what he thinks it is. I mean, a lot of people take themselves too seriously, for sure, but those aren't the people you really connect with. This man fishes, he has a Harley, he's an incredible facilitator, and he's bald (Yay!). If he openly and honestly tweeted about his trains in the basement followed by the certifications he's chasing down, I'm sure he'd have a following.
The point that I'm taking entirely too long to get to is that the people who would benefit the most from a day like today are the people who aren't here. Yes, there is value in the networking, but I've already heard little clique phrases, that's the stuff that may scare the shy avatar in real life away. A couple of SXSW guffaws, etc. You know what I mean.
The panel I wanted to make was Twitter:newpapers. And I made it. But I could have written the script. The panel, moderated by Erick Schonfeld (@erickschonfeld) - co-editor, TechCrunch, held John Boitnott (@jboitnott) - Social Media strategist, Village Voice; Etan Horowitz (@etanowitz) - Technology writer, Orlando Sentinel; Patrick LaForge (@palafo) - Director of the Copy Desks, The New York Times; and Peter A. McKay (@peteramckay) - Writer, Wall Street Journal.
I talked to Pat Kieran (@patkiernan) afterwards (after telling him that I'm really NOT a stalker) to see what he thought.
"It didn't go the way I was hoping it would go," said Pat in his NY1 Pat's Papers voice. I tried to stay calm - I should point out that as soon as my lazy eye was corrected as a child and I could see things clearly, I always crushed on newscasters... or maybe just wanted to be them.
I admitted that I was a hostile witness today, that I'm hoping for a moment where it's not the Twitter cult talking to the Twitter cult about how awesome Twitter is and how good they are "at it." Kiernan continued, "I mean, I don't' give a sh*t how they're tweeting in the newsroom... this is a dying industry... how is the NYTimes replacing thousand-word [pieces] with 120 characters?" 120, because you have to allow for Retweeting - if that's your goal (isn't that a little like, talking to be quoted -- and then you're not being genuine?). I like that I can have a totally relaxed conversation with someone I admire in the news and entertainment media - and that we agree on the very basic statement that "Dear lord please tell me that being first isn't better than being right."
What's the solution to squashing this behavior of read one and done? If Johnny Hotcakes in Peoria posted "Plane in the Hudson river, filled with swine flu infected tallest people on earth" that doesn't make it right, it makes it first. And just now I left the Twitter newsgathering panel where Robert Scoble asked, if Twitter and social tools are giving us all worldwide access to each other as the news is happening - from the people involved in the actual news (Go ahead, search on "twitter+Tehran"), and people want the news that instantly too -- what's up with the lag time in American news media reporting it? To this Ryan Osborne, Producer, NBC Today Show answered, "we have to make sure it's right."
Oh, and kind of funny -- Mashable's Adam Hirsch, in the middle of giving his screaming monkey away, asked if I had seen CNN's Rick Sanchez walking in with Sawhorse Media's Greg Galant. I admitted that I had no idea what Rick Sanchez looked like. Then he got on stage and I realized that he's the guy I had walked in with, who I'd told that I was sweating like a very large woman.
Oh hey, if you want to see what I missed while screaming about the crappy wi-fi - go to search.twitter.com and slap in #140conf