Twittering at #AHA2010

My experience with Twittering the AHA conference was a mixed bag.  Some evident successes were the vigorous backchannel discussion at the “Is Google Good for History?” panel, the Twitter meet-up on Friday night, and meeting historians of all stripes via searches on the #AHA2010 hashtag.

What I learned from this experience–which built on previous experiences of twittering at the DAC09 and Nowcasting conferences–was that it works best when there are multiple tweeters in the audience.  This not only works well because more ‘soundbites’ can be harvested, but because it creates a conversation between the people in the room that produces content that moves beyond simple summary. For me, tweeting in isolation is harder work–there’s far more pressure to summarize the material completely and there’s no one to query for clarification.  Those panels where I attempted to tweet the highlights on my own felt more like spitting into the wind than reportage.

As I think about how I want to organize twitterers at the upcoming #PDP2010 conference, I’m hoping to have two people per session designated as semi-official tweeters to keep the conversation going and to encourage others to join in.  Though I know there’s some danger to creating too much back-channel conversation, I still feel that its worth it because of what Twitter can and will add to audience engagement.

What are your best twitter-conference experiences?

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