Google Wave vs Twitter at conferences

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Image courtesy of Shutterstock

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

Twitter has quickly become the must-have channel for conference back-chat. Reading what other people tweet during a speech provides an extra dimension as you get a sense of what the audience is thinking. And just like passing notes in class, it’s also a lot more fun than simply sitting and listening. (and empowering - remember that Facebook interview from SXSW’08?)

Twitter is also a great way to attend a conference without actually being there - just follow a conference hashtag (e.g. #smib09 or #figarodigital) and find out all the gossip and the key points from the comfort of your desk.

But watch out Twitter. Google Wave is going to take this digitally-enabled conference back-channel a step further.

At the recent Ecomm conference delegates were provided with Google Wave accounts. What resulted was a fantastic showcase of collaboration and crowd-sourcing. Sprinkeled with a good dose of integrated offline and online real-time social media.   <- way too many social media buzzwords.

Here’s what happened: an audience member would create a Google Wave and others in the audience would edit the wave during the presentation. The result would be a crowd-sourced write-up of the presentation: a transcript of key points and a record of audience comments.
Here’s an example:

1. Audience member starts a Wave

google wave edits

2. Others join and edit the wave as the speaker talks

google wave edit1

3. By the end of the talk there are lots of people using the Wave (their photos are along the top) and the Wave became a complete record of the key points plus audience commnets below.

google wave finished
For this conference the organisers created a Wave directory so that you could find what was said in each presentation.

google wave conference schedule

The organisers also added waves so that the audience could give feedabck about the conference in general and ideas for next year.

google wave conference feedback

It’s worth pointing out that Twitter is still an early-adopter phenomenon, and Google Wave even more so. As a result, whilst I am a complete junkie for following conference tweets, I suspect it’s going to take a couple of years before this goes mainstream. But it will. And the impact on conference organisers and speakers is significant.

And just in case you are new to social media, make sure you check out the other excelent social media platform for conference notes: Slideshare. This is always the best place to find presentations from conferences.

Have you tried following conference tweets? Or waves? If so, have you found them useful? and will augmented reality will be the next major influence?

Google Wave invites early-adopter madness

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Google Wave Couresy of Shutterstock

Wave Couresy of Shutterstock

People have been going mad to grab their Google Wave invites.

The’ve been auctioned on ebay and begged for in Facebook. But my favourite story so far has been the one about Ian Tait losing his Twitter mind: Ian Tait does not have 1,000 Google Wave invites

If you still haven’t got your invite, then go here for the least imaginative way to get one.

PS did you watch the first Wave video? It was good. Long but good. Sadly I was a bit put off by the t-shirts the presenters wore. It made them look like they had sweaty chests.

If you missed the content (and the t-shirts) you can see it here:

Mobilising people in social media: the #welovethenhs debate

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heart-shaped buttons
Image by alice-palace via Flickr

Update: in the first week of the #welovethenhs debate on Twitter, 18,000 people shared over 37,000 stories.

In the last two days, almost 11,000 different people on Twitter have entered into a debate about the benefits of the UK healthcare system. Between them they have shared over 20,000 different stories that range from individual experiences to debates and evaluations of the merits of public health care over a private health insurance scheme. The levels of involvement are impressive and have been driven primarily by people sharing their own personal stories rather than being driven by a corporate or organisational Twitter campaign.

This discussion and debate is a great example of people coming together on a shared topic of interest. They are telling their stories or giving their opinion and tagging it with the #welovethenhs hashtag so that others can find, read and share what they have said. At it’s very simplest this is a great example of how social media work, and in particular of the kind of dynamics that exist in an online community:

  • People with a story to tell write about it and tag it, so that
  • People who want to find similar stories can easily sort through the information that has been shared, and
  • These stories can then be passed to other people and shared again so that more people can read it

People who don’t know each other can read and comment on each others’ stories - they are connected not by the fact that they actually know each other, but that they are interested in similar issues and want to talk about the same things. There are, of course, limits to hashtags as a way of sorting information on Twitter, but for quickly escalating debates like this they are a useful way of showing the strength and weight  of opinion on a particular issue.

But perhaps the most interesting element of the NHS debate on Twitter is the subject matter itself. With less than 12 months to go before the next General Election in the UK, the public are having a debate about an issue that is always a major component of any election campaign, and they are doing so in social media. And Prime Minister Gordon Brown joined in the discussions with his own opinions. Expressed via Twitter.

We’ve posted before about how Social Media can sometimes be the wrong medium for politicians to express their opinions or to make announcements (especially about Gordon Brown’s YouTube trauma). But this is a case where users themselves have started and are having a discussion on an issue that is of keen political, and electoral, interest. If they are this engaged now, on an issue of great interest but sparked by remarks by a US politician then we might be looking at an interesting and engaged set of debates on Twitter and across social media during the upcoming General Election.

I hope all the Parties have their social media strategies sorted.

* For up-to-date statistics about the #welovethenhs hashtag go to what the hashtag?!

  • Brown joins NHS Twitter campaign (guardian.co.uk)
  • Britain To Civil Servants: Go Forth And Tweet (huffingtonpost.com)
  • #welovethenhs takes over Twitter (stuartbruce.biz)
  • Twitter Army defends UK healthcare system (thenextweb.com)