Friday, April 30, 2010

Virtual and actual life connecting

I've been using Twitter since, oh, 2006.  And in that time I've watched it evolve.  Participated in that evolution, for that matter.  What was once a way for me and some friends to broadcast random observations or clever (to us) commentary has become a powerful tool for networking, professional development, and research.

Of course, I still continue to use it for the random observation/clever (to me) commentary aspect as well.

Thus, when I received the following email last week, I was reminded first hand how much Twitter has made an impact:

NASA Tweetup logo"Congratulations, your registration to attend the STS-132 Tweetup on May 13-14 at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida has been selected! The two-day event will provide you with the opportunity to speak with shuttle technicians, engineers, astronauts, and managers and to view the launch of space shuttle Atlantis to the International Space Station that is targeted for 2:19 p.m. EDT, May 14. The Tweetup will also include a "meet and greet" session for participants to mingle with fellow Tweeps and the team behind the tweets from @NASA."

I kinda can't get over it - I'm headed to Florida to watch the shuttle propel into space.  From the press site. And meet NASA personnel involved in the shuttle.  Not to mention some of the personnel behind NASA's social media efforts which have been, if I may be so bold with a pun, stellar.
 STS-132 patch.png
NASA has for some time been taking advantage of social media tools.  Blogs, Flickr, Facebook, Ustream, YouTube, podcasts, iPhone/iTouch apps...  And of course Twitter.

Having never been to a Tweetup before, I'm not exactly sure what to expect.  I do know, however, that I am a few weeks away from a tremendous real world experience that I'll remember forever.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The power of collaboration

I spent a few days last week at the 2010 Nonprofit Technology Conference (NTC) in Atlanta, GA.  It was fantastic to have the opportunity to dive headfirst into a group of people as enthusiastic (if not more so!) about how to use social media to help forge social change.  I walked away with inspiration, ideas, and new connections with great folks, and am already looking forward to next year's, being held in DC. 

Of course, being a technology conference, there was an abundance of people tweeting, blogging, sharing slides, and otherwise sharing their experience.  So much so that the infamous Twitter fail whale made an appearance once or twice...

My personal goals for the conference were to meet others in the social change/social media space (check!), see examples of how others approach social media use in their organization (check!), and get some concrete advice for strategically bringing social media into existing communications activity (check!).

One of the mot difficult aspects of the conference was having to decide which workshops to attend.  With so many good options from which to choose, it took several rounds of reading, rereading, highlighting, and then narrowing to come up with my final six.

I was happy with my decisions and all, but could tell via conversations and the twittersphere that I would have been equally happy with other sessions.  Sadly, it is not possible to be in more than one place at a time (yet).

After I got home, still high off of the conference energy, I saw that someone had posted their notes from one session into Google documents.  Smart thinking!  "Self," I thought, "why not do this for all the notes?"

Within two minutes I had a public folder set up, and all of my notes were pasted into Google docs.  I also created a quick spreadsheet for people to list links to blog entries, slides, videos, or any other content.

I then began spreading the word of its existence via Twitter, using all the ways I could think of: sending a note out to my own followers, retweeting and thanking others who participated, including relevant hashtags, and including influential users the tweets.  With a little persistence, others started championing the idea as well.  Hooray for teamwork!

As of this writing, we have 23 sets of session notes being shared, with over 100 collaborators reading and editing.  I think this is fantastic, and I've already found great value in going through these notes.  As I couldn't attend everything, this is the next best thing.

I'm pleased that others have found this to be a useful resource, and more pleased that others have ideas on how to make it even better.

I hope to see this type of collaboration put into place at next year's conference (mark your calendar: March 17-19 in Washington, DC) - one more way to keep the NTC love going!