Both blogging and academia can be rather solitary affairs, so visiting the Birmingham Social Media Cafe was a great opportunity to talk to other people who were interested in the social web; whilst Wolverhampton may feel like the back of beyond, it is at least close to civilization.
Basically BSMC offers the opportunity to stand around chatting to strangers whilst drinking coffee paid for by those nice chaps at Opera (on this occasion at least). I’d hate to estimate the number of participants, but definitely too many to speak to everyone, so your experience will depend on who you spoke to and what your expectations were. With no expectations, and managing to push aside my general wall-flower nature, I found it a useful experience; providing me with a far wider range of perspectives of the social web.
What did I learn? Mainly, despite my personal reservations, everyone else loves Twitter; many participants choosing to wear their Twitter ID rather than their name on their name badges (or should that be Twitter ID badge?). Whilst I’m still not convinced by Twitter’s usefulness, it is definitely an area that needs further research. What do the networks of followers and the comments tell us about usefulness of Twitter?
Surprisingly I find, on returning to my desktop, that a friend has just started following me on Twitter. A definite sign of the mainstream users strolling on board. Her first post: “doesn’t quite grasp what the hell this is all about”…personally I’m none-the-wiser a year later. Although I must admit I mostly use my account for dodgy research and programming. Maybe it is time for a more ethnographic approach to Twitter…
n.b. I also discovered that if you hang about with dogs (or PhD students) you catch fleas…next time my badge will state “not a student”.