The beauty of TweetCamp


Two of the overriding impressions I formed after taking part in yesterday’s TweetCamp in London is that Twitter is whatever people want it to be; and there’s no right or wrong way to use it, only effective and ineffective.

This was the second TweetCamp in London, the first being in 2009. TweetCamp is described as:

[…] a free-to-attend, participatory “unconference” for both new and experienced users of Twitter. It aims to bring digital practitioners together face to face in order to:

  • Accelerate conversations that happen via social media channels, such as Twitter
  • Deepen established online networks, and create new connections
  • Inspire fresh thinking, new collaborations, and innovation.

I estimate there were about 180 people at the venue in east London yesterday – the Bishop Challoner Catholic Collegiate School, a most excellent venue for this type of informal unconference event – and many of those I met had their own perspectives on what Twitter could help them achieve in how they connect with other people.

There were self-employed business people there. A few from big corporations. Teachers, community managers, video producers, writers, app developers, journalists, students, you name it – the variety in people, what they do and what they think was extraordinary.

Quite unlike TweetCamp 2009, now that I think of it – that was still early-adopter and enthusiast territory to a large extent. Two years on, it was time for the ‘normal’ folks who are liberated by their own notions of what Twitter is and what you can do with it.

That’s the beauty of TweetCamp – an informal gathering of people who see a social tool like Twitter as the means to achieve things on their terms; who want to share their perspectives as well as find out what others think. The conversations and discussions were vibrant and stimulating right from the start.

During the unconference sessions in the afternoon, I led one session with Sue Llewellyn that we entitled ‘Twitter Hits and Misses,’ during which we addressed such thorny matters as Twitter etiquette, cultural differences in how people use Twitter and some tips and tricks for using Twitter effectively. Some really good discussion with and among the 20 or so tweetcampers who took part.

Later I joined in a trenchant discussion about real-time news journalism, led by Sue, in a packed room. That discussion could have continued long beyond the 30-minute allocation for each session. I especially liked the talk on embargoes and is there a future for them, a topic that generated some hearty discussion.

I’m sure plenty will be posted in the coming days by others who were there yesterday, telling their stories and offering their impressions and opinions about the day. There will be lots of photos posted to Flickr and to Facebook. I’m looking forward to seeing all those perspectives that I’m sure will further enrich my own perspectives about Twitter, about people and the many different way people like to connect with others.

Keep track of everything via the hashtag: #tweetcamp. And connect with TweetCamp itself via the Twitter handle @TweetCamp.

A final word must go to the organizers of yesterday’s event. In a word, they are brilliant. Seamless organization – clearly the result of equally-seamless planning and preparation – made for an experience where everyone could focus on the content, as it were, and not whinge about how the wifi wasn’t working (typical of so many events that cost a fortune to go to). The wifi, in fact, was perfect: it worked! And that lets me add another thanks – the sponsors and partners, without whom TweetCamp wouldn’t have happened in the form it took (including free of cost to everyone).

A lot of people were behind the organizing scenes but I can’t find a list of everyone’s names (hopefully, there will be some acknowledgement of everyone on the TweetCamp site), so let me just thank the one individual who I connected with most leading up to the day – Abigail Harrison. Nice work.

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Neville Hobson

Social Strategist, Communicator, Writer, and Podcaster with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Believer in an Internet for everyone. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Avid tea drinker.

  1. Andy Piper

    Thanks for the lovely write-up, Neville – and I’m glad you had a good experience. As one of the helpers I wasn’t able to engage as deeply as I would have liked, but still had that great experience of putting real people to avatars, catching up with long term contacts and making new ones – and the one discussion group I joined led me to reconsider my views on other tools.

    I’m a big fan of Lanyrd as a way to aggregate together information about who was there and what content was generated – it’s also nice to know that it is a UK-based startup and they are a social conference tool built on top of Twitter – so I’ve linked to this write-up there, and hope others may want to explore the space to see some of the other things that went on.

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