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I just got access to Twitter Lists – the feature where you can create and publish lists of people to follow. The obvious thing for me to do is to make a Tuttle list, innit? But I’m not, and I can’t and here’s why:
You’re a member of Tuttle if and when you decide you are, it’s nothing to do with me. Now if you really misbehave and hurt people in the group or something (it’s never happened yet) I might ask you to leave and not come back (it’s never happened yet) but that remains a hypothetical case.
So I don’t know who should be on the list, and I can’t and I shouldn’t – that’s what decentralized power means, it’s none of it up to me, it’s up to you. If I made a list, I can guarantee you two things: 1) I would miss someone out and 2) I’d put someone on there that someone else doesn’t think belongs (say they came only came once and you didn’t see them) and every week I’d have a god-awful job of asking new people if they wanted to go on the list or something. Blaaah. No. Not going to happen.
So now I’m pondering what it means about Twitter (the company) and their attitude to centralisation, personal choice, list-making and popularity contests. But it’s time for bed.
I’m really pleased that I’ll be going over to Paris in December for this year’s LeWeb as an official blogger – despite the cold, wifi and food problems last year, it really is a great gathering of people and Loic & Geraldine are fabulous hosts.
And as I said in this video that Ande shot last year (when #media140 was just a twinkle in his eye) it really is about the people, not what’s said or shown but the opportunity to look people in the eye (or look at *their* shoes) and make a really human connection.
Naturally I’m looking at some way of getting any tuttlers in town together for a nice cup of tea like we did at SXSWi in March.
If you’re going to come too, let me know – early bird registration closes on November 10th and you can get a 10% discount using the code BLOG09
I want to be clear that I think that anyone who has a go at running an event in central London for a couple of hundred people to try to understand something about how this real-time web stuff changes the way the world works deserves our admiration and gratitude, so salutes to Ande, Kate and the rest of the media140 team.
Now about the wifi – and it’s probably not what you think.
In my view, wireless connectivity to the internet for the modern conference is up there with electricity and hot and cold running water as an essential utility that guests should just expect to be there and working. Its lack is not as immediate a physical risk as for those other utilities, where we’d be bumbling around in the dark or stepping gingerly through each other’s waste products but it is a major inconvenience in a world where participants in events have come to expect the ability to upload content, see what others have uploaded, reference material that’s being talked about on stage and talk to each other in backchannels.
No wifi means we can’t play in a big part of the game. It’s as if we’d had a power cut and tried to carry on with candlelight. It also has consequences for quality reporting of what’s going on to those who couldn’t make it along and longer term for people trying to understand something that they heard in the middle of someone’s speech but can’t quite remember what it was or how it was nuanced.
So surely it’s the conference organizer’s fault when it goes wrong. I don’t think so. I think that if we’d turned up at RIBA and there happened to be a power cut in that part of W1 and no prospect of electricity for the rest of the day, we certainly wouldn’t have taken a swipe at the production team, instead a couple of things might have happened – firstly, I would expect insurance to have been taken out for such a thing to cover the costs of refunding participants and the costs of the conference on the day. Secondly, we’d (well some of us would) have probably nipped over to Regents Park and held an impromptu conversation along the lines that we’d previously intended.
I’d also expect RIBA as a conference centre to be dealing with it, not dumping it on the organizer.
But let’s put that aside for a moment. Let’s assume that there’s a great supply, with reserves and generators in the basement to make sure failure of the national grid doesn’t kill the ability to host something.
The trouble is, to the wifi supplier, a conference like media140 is the 21st Century equivalent of a hair-dryer salesman’s convention in the 1930s to the fledgling electricity companies – all sorts of nutcases march in with power-hungry devices, all wanting to show off what their gadget can do and scrambling for the power sockets as soon as they get into the room. Even worse than that (and I suspect this is the real culprit) they bring hair-drying devices that automatically grab hold of power as soon as they come into the building – even if they’re in the owner’s pocket or briefcase. Can you imagine?!
There was a time when conference organizers were constantly reminding people to turn off their mobile phones. Perhaps we should be asking people now to just make sure that you keep your wifi-enabled device on 3G only until you really need to connect quickly and that all automatically wifi-grabbing applications are killed before you enter the building.
So iPhones are the new Handy Hannah – that’s what I learned at #media140
Photo by Paul Clarke
I remember reading, somewhere, something like: “As a blogger, if you’re not writing enough, it’s probably because you’re not reading enough” I don’t believe that’s true, I think it probably only applies if you’re the type of blogger who only writes about what other people have written, but somehow it got stuck, wedged into the part of my brain that somehow doesn’t like me sitting and writing and publishing stuff on the web and so it gets in the way every time I go anywhere near the “New Post” button.
The same bit of my brain that lures me into Google Reader and Twitter far too often. “I need to read a little bit more and then I’ll get down to writing.”
No. The only thing that gets me writing (and I love writing, I really enjoy it and I always feel good when I’ve done some) is sitting down and writing. Reading just takes up time, gives me little ideas that get squirrelled away in my head and rattle around like acorns. They rarely get out where they were supposed to go (here, on the blog) and just add to my levels of anxiety, depression and occasional psychotic delusion – which tend, to be honest, to get in the way of writing too.
Oh that’s better.