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Worlds Collide

February 20, 2010

Part 1
I’m sitting in the courtyard at the School of Communication at the University of Miami taking a break from the sessions at WordCamp Miami. Right now there’s this bizarre Tech Nerds vs. Theater Nerds thing happening. All around the courtyard in classrooms on the second and third floors, folks are learning about WordPress. Here below, a full dress rehearsal for a musical – complete with singing, dancing and very loud keyboard playing – is going on.

I have a strong sense of connection to this space. My first month of grad school, I walked through this courtyard the morning of 9/11 and then went down to the old Miami News Service bunker, where we experienced and covered that tragedy for the Miami Herald and other outlets in real time.

Because of that writing, I ended up doing my Miami Hurricane column and subsequently met my (now) husband as a result. He reminded me as we were pulling into the parking lot earlier that he used to bring me dinner before class when we were dating, and we’d eat it here. So it is appropriate, I guess, with all these other worlds colliding, that it is here and in this format that he would hear me speak and also enter the social media world I inhabit for the first time. (Though yesterday he did send me his first message on Facebook.)

As I was presenting today

Photo Credit – @miamishines

folks were Tweeting, something that to him had only been a pop culture phenomenon and the thing on my phone that distracted me from dinner with our family. As I was reading him the live tweets from my talk while we were leaving, his only question was whether it distracted from the real world interaction that’s supposed to go on at conferences like these.

Part 2
I, of course, argued to the contrary, noting that it instead added another layer of interaction. I just got this tweet from @malcolli,

and I am wondering about his question and how well we do when the virtual world collides with the real one. Just like the folks at last week’s @SMCSF panel, I wonder if our social media skills replace or reinvigorate our interpersonal ones.

A few questions for future posts:

  1. How does this impact the way we interact with colleagues, both those we see every day and others we only know virtually?
  2. What happens when we meet them face-to-face?
  3. How can we facilitate virtual communities that begin with the real ones that exist naturally within our organizations and augment our interaction, increase productivity, and inspire us to love what we do?

What I’ve been thinking so far:

The bad thing about working in a multinational company lies somewhere in that multi part. With a lot of locations and folks who don’t get facetime nearly often enough, it is easy to miss what is going on between the deadlines. It is really easy to interupt your colleagues all the time on conference calls (ahem). You really start to miss the hallway conversations about the weather, and you realize that small talk is not, in fact, a small thing.

The good thing about social media is that it helps us have conversations we’d never have otherwise and collaborate with people we’d never know well enough to without it. A few days ago I was talking with someone at a large university that uses Yammer to enhance communication across departments. He mentioned that he had posted a link to an article that sparked a conversation among the library, the communications office and human resources about the importance of good Web design and Web literacy. Even though they work on the same campus, these folks rarely interact in person, and had never all sat down in the same room, especially not to have what he called, “one of those conversations that really matter.”

Part 3
Today I was talking about Writing a for Business Blog,

and I wanted to share some good old analog feedback I asked the folks who attended my talk to use digital approaches to provide (and special thanks @countrycuban for being so kind as to share your real-time notes).

Before we got started, I (well, okay, my husband, at my request) set out a piece of colored paper at every seat in the auditorium. As we went along, I asked questions that got people to think about their own business blog and asked them to write down their answers (with an actual PEN). Then, at the end, I requested that they email me their thoughts on what I had to say.

I asked them for plusses (things they learned that they hadn’t known before) and deltas (things they wished they’d learned that I could add for the next time.) They were way too nice to be critical, but here is some of what they had to say.

Samir Husain (@sammysam)

Steve Begin
Suki (@sukanti)

Jenny Mick (@workinonaramp)

I’m providing them here because I find it fascinating that I think NONE of these folks responded aloud when I asked the same question and requested that they raise their hands and share.

For today at least, all of us at WordCamp Miami were kind of like colleagues, and the Tweet stream at #wcmia did what social media at its best can do in the virtual space among those physically together (or not) working toward a common goal.

  • We shared ideas.
  • We reflected at a higher level on what was happening around us.
  • We connected with people we hadn’t met before.
  • We met up with people we knew and wanted to know.
  • We offered commentary (snarky and complimentary alike).
  • We formed a bond around an experience we all shared.

Great job to the folks who put on WordCamp Miami, and a special thanks to my @addventures colleague @jessjurick for inviting me (and by extension my dear husband!) to take part.

When I posted that I’d be getting my nerd badge, I had no idea there would be actual badges.
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5 Comments leave one →
  1. malcolli permalink
    February 21, 2010 1:10 am

    40 days of do, so far so good! I loved what you said today in your presentation about telling someone about your personal plan to produce content to have someone to keep you in check. I often use my twitter followers to keep me accountable in other areas of life too, and they aren’t shy from speaking up when I stray away.

    I also dig what you said about small talk being valuable in the work place, face-to-face. Mundane water color convo used to really bother me for lack of authenticity, but now I realize it’s usefulness just to satisfy our natural human need for social interaction. Thanks for presenting today!

  2. February 21, 2010 1:26 am

    I thoroughly enjoyed your session! It was one of my favorites that you did, and I think you definitely brought up some valid points here in your post! I was actually talking to someone earlier today, that for it being a social media/tech camp, people really weren’t all that social nor interactive. I think it’s really quite an interesting phenomon from that aspect!

    By the way, thanks for linking back to my blog, I was able to take notes, because the presenter was just so good!

    P.S. I’m @countrycuban, not @cubancountry. ; )

  3. floridafrecks permalink
    February 21, 2010 12:35 pm

    Your session was one of my favorites. You were comfortable with your content and your audience.

    As for the live tweets, I have always been a multi-tasker ADD kinda gal. I AM listening but my mind can wander. What better way to for a mind to wander than to tweet some knowledge to the Twitter community who can’t attend? I think it’s a nice way to share and a compliment to the speaker. No harm. No foul.

    And you gotta love instant notes from Ileana @cubancountry. These kids impress me!

  4. Angie Henderson Moncada permalink
    February 23, 2010 12:32 am

    Thanks for the mention! Great post and I’m glad it helped convince you to get on Twitter. Happy Tweeting!

Trackbacks

  1. WordCamp Miami Wrap-up - Roger Theriault - Inside T/S Tech - True/Slant

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