Libraries, the universe and everything

May 1, 2012, 12:02
Filed under: Social media | Tags: , , , ,

Livetweeting is something I have always managed to avoid, so it was with some surprise and trepidation that I recently found myself volunteering to livetweet from a conference one of my colleagues was helping to organise.

As in many such situations, I turned directly to Twitter for advice, and was delighted to receive some quality responses:

@adamrsc Use twitterfall or visibletweets; easy, well publicised hashtag; several people tasked with reacting to tweets.

@walkyouhome Warn your followers beforehand & let them know they can use to mute the hashtag you’ll be using. A combination of summaries of what’s being said and what you think of it makes it interesting.
@MarDixon Start each tweet with the hashtag. Just remember to tweet what we can’t hear.
Armed with all of this in mind, a fully-charged smartphone, and a copy of the conference programme I took a seat and prepared to tweet. I rapidly realised that there is a big difference between livetweeting as a means of taking your own notes of a session (which I have tried to do once or twice before), and livetweeting in order to share the event with others.
My first hurdle was that I was almost completely unfamiliar with the subject matter, and consequently I found it hard to know what I should be tweeting about. Names, dates and key texts were referred to by the speakers, and I’m sure that most other people in the room knew exactly who and what they were, but I had little idea whether they were major players or incidental to the point being made at the time.
I also found it hard to pick out points which not only summarised what was being said but that would also make sense as a 140 character unit AND be even slightly interesting for an external audience. One of my colleagues was also tweeting from some of the sessions, and I was quite relieved to see that we often tweeted the same points. I don’t think we did it sufficiently often as to annoy our audience, and we tended to approach them slightly differently, so I hope that wasn’t a problem for anyone.
The main challenge was my inability to listen and type simultaneously – I can listen and make notes with pen and paper, but when it comes to pecking characters into my smartphone I simply can’t concentrate on anything else. Especially when I’m also trying to compose something pithy, avoid typos and remember to leave space for the hashtag. Once I’d tweeted, tuning back into the speaker and trying to pick up the thread was quite challenging (particularly given my lack of familiarity with the content).
I was pleased to realise that at least a couple of historians of science were listening in, as well as one of the other conference attendees, but I wasn’t really sure what to expect by way of audience response. Towards the end of the day I tweeted to ask if people had enjoyed the tweets, and whether it was worth us trying to livetweet from other events, and was delighted with the positive feedback received:
 some positive feedback
some more positive feedback
So despite the fact that this was the most mentally draining day I’ve experienced for ages, I’ll definitely be trying again. Any more advice will be gratefully received, so if you’ve got anything to share I’d love to hear it. And as for my top tip? Make sure you have someone on hand to ply you with restorative wine once the day is over!
P.S. The one thing which I failed to consider was how to archive the tweets for posterity, so I turned once again to my twitter network and asked @joeyanne how she does this. (I did initially have a look at storify, but it turns out this won’t function on my work web browser.) Jo put me on to @mhawksey‘s TAGS template for Google docs, and I’m currently immersed in his blog post of step-by-step instructions. I’m not yet sure whether it will work for tweets in the past, but I’ll definitely be using it in future.

4 Comments so far
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Hi – Emma give me a shout if you get stuck. The Twitter search is limited to the last 7 days or a maximum of 1500 tweets.



Comment by mhawksey

Hi Martin, many thanks for this.


Comment by Emma Davidson

hi Emma – we’re dipping our toes in the livetweeting waters so this article is as timely as it was useful – thanks!


Comment by edinburghcitylibraries

I’m really glad it helped, I’m still very much feeling my way into this! If you come up with any other suggestions I’d love to hear them.


Comment by Emma Davidson

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