The fun of live tweeting

I have been live tweeting for several years.

In fact, when I live tweeted one of President Obama’s first press conferences, I got flak from early adopters. I was told to “lay off” the tweets, that Twitter wasn’t to be used that way.

How times change. Now, when there’s a major event – whether it’s a speech by the president, an awards show on TV, or a trial in court – it seems you can find at least a half dozen people tweeting about it.

I still live tweet events often, though not always as a working journalist. Instead, I live tweet conferences or scientific conversations. Often my nom de plume is @NortheasternCOS. (You can find an example of my work here.) Anyone can do it, and they often do without even realizing it. So many people on social media, and specifically Twitter, take their inner dialogue and put it out there for the world to see. So, instead of keeping those thoughts to themselves, they share them with the rest of us. Then we know how many yoga-wearing, dog-carrying people have walked into Starbucks on a particular morning. And we know what each of them have ordered, complained about and read.

This week, I took my live tweeting skills to an event at Northeastern University and to Cohasset, Massachusetts. The events could not have been more different. The event at Northeastern was about data visualization. It was hosted by a section of the library and quite intellectual. The event in Cohasset was the seasonal closing of an ice cream shop.

Both events offered opportunities to use additional Twitter handles, to quote people and to add photos. The closing of the ice cream shop would have been a kicker on our local broadcast when I was in television. It was cute, and the shop manager was helpful. Unfortunately, it was not until I had packed my twins back into their car seats that anyone else showed up at the ice cream shop, otherwise I would have had additional quotes and pictures from customers.

The data visualization conversation was informative. It was more cerebral than I expected, as the description of the event said it would discuss the visualization tools faculty around the college are using. While it was informative in terms of what faculty are working on, there wasn’t a deep dive into any of the precise tools used.

I enjoy live tweeting events, especially conferences and lectures, as it broadens the conversation beyond those who are in the room. I had the opportunity to follow several tweets from the annual Online News Association Conference in Chicago this week. Because so many people were posting information, including charts, quotes and pictures, I was able to join in the conversation despite being in Boston.

I am certain these two events won’t be the last I live tweet, but I hope the next time I do it, it will be more organic rather than me feeling as though I needed to find something to fulfill an assignment.


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