A while back Twitter was having some real problems with stability and scalability and it dawned on me that they, like many innovators, had not realised what kind of invention they had made. They talked about it as a ‘microblogging‘ platform, that is, as a very short message publishing service. This is a very web 1.0 view of what this type of platform enabled.
Instead, what Twitter (and it’s competitors) enabled was conversations. And conversations enable community. So, without realising it, what they had actually created was a community building platform.
One place that this is really evident is in Australia, especially in Sydney. About four years ago I recall complaining that there was no real tech community in Sydney even though there were lots of web development and hi-tech companies in town. At the end of 2007, coincident with the beta of Twitter, a number of people got together and decided to do something about it. This gave rise, or new life, to various groups.
All of this could have happened using email lists and online user groups, just as it had in the past. But I’ve found that those groups are hard to maintain momentum with if you are only meeting once a week, month or similar. What you need to build real community is a village.
This is because villages provide ambient contact on a regular basis that reinforces relationships and creates personal knowledge of each other as members of the community. Luckily for us Twitter came along at just the right time to provide that kind of ambient community building contact.
This was an important step in creation of a sense of community in the tech world in Sydney as it brought us together in real life on a regular basis. And that real life contact was reinforced by ongoing conversations on Twitter. Now we know what each other look like in real life and maintain contact with each other, though geographically dispersed, via Twitter. These days, if I walk into a web or tech conference in Sydney, there’s a lot of familiar faces. And all this is due to the community building that Twitter has enabled.
Sure, while Twitter serves to keep us in contact regularly, the community is also supported by various blogs, wikis, Google Groups, and web pages. But it is Twitter that we use to organise and publicise a conference, or a picnic, or drinks at the pub (check out Silicon Beach drinks each Friday in Sydney).
Here’s some pictures from a recent family tweetup/picnic that was enabled by (a) the community built via Twitter (most of us met first on Twitter & then in real life); (b) the ability to send both broadcast and point-to-point messages via Twitter for logistics & planning; and (c) to remind me it was on – even though I had completely forgotten to diarise it.
Note re language
For some reason I don’t know, tweetups in Australia became focused around TUBs (or Twitter Underground Brigades) and most big cities have a ‘TUB’ (Perth PTUB; Melbourne MTUB; Brisbane BTUB; Canberra CTUB – if I’ve missed any please let me know). The term ‘TUB’ has now become vernacular for tweetup around these part – hence there’s a fairly regular @girlTUB and a recent #familyTUB (see pics below).
Just got the annual letter from my old high school. As an ex-student they reach out annually to ask me for money. That’s pretty much all I hear from them. There’s no attempt to stay in touch or to create a sense of community.
They might be doing more, but I’m on their mailing list for donation requests and I don’t get any other correspondence from them! They don’t even write back to say what the money was used for or enumerate the results of the programs it funds.
It appears that on the basis of a few years acquaintance a long time ago they think it’s alright to just ask me for money without any preliminaries or attempts at conversation. And that is really quite presumptuous of them!
Sure it’s an admirable thing to give a tax deductible donation to the College Scholarship & Bursary Fund so a young woman can have an Australian private school education. But why would I bother giving money to them when they don’t even bother with foreplay?
On the other hand the WSPA stay in touch with me often, ask me to get involved, find out what I think about issues as well as asking for donations.
I feel like I have a stronger relationship, or a deeper level of engagement, with the WSPA than with my old school. And, when making the decision on where to allocate my charity dollar, the organisation with which I feel an affinity is going to win.
Also, since I suspect that children living on the lower north shore of Sydney* could probably survive an education in one of the local state schools, it looks that some of my money is going to the animals instead.
* For those not from round here, Sydney’s lower north shore is a relatively wealthy region with a median house price of $1.03M post GFC.
Again I am struck by how much progress we have made in building a real community amongst geeks, start-up people, entrepreneurs, technologists, thinkers, activists and web folks in Sydney. Community & collaboration based events like this bring us all together to share ideas and enthusiasm.
We are getting to the stage where many of us know each other both online and in real life. Between @STUB tweetups, Silicon Beach Sydney drinks and BarCamp the sense of familiarity and friendly community has definitely grown.
A really nice feature of the day was the number of families who attended & the very cool kids who presented sessions. The sessions branched out from pure technology or business focus to include whimsy such as origami and paper aeroplane creation. Check out the pictures below.
I really came away from BarCamp energised and enthusiastic about the future of technology in Australia. Funnily enough I also won a prize (a nice bottle of scotch) for something too (there’s a long story about that – but too long to go into here).
Do not forget that BarCampSydney5 (#bcs5), the recession edition, is on Saturday 27 June 2009.
BarCamp is an ad-hoc unconference born from the desire for people to share and learn in an open environment”. BarCamp is an intense community event with discussions, demos and interaction from attendees. Anyone with something to contribute or with the desire to learn is welcome and invited to participate.
The BarCamp motto is: No spectators, only participants.
According to Jodie Miners, one of the un-organisers, there’s over 170 people registered to attend, lots of great sponsors and a great new venue.
Apparently Jodie’s planning a talk on her current passion, Google Wave, & is hoping that a bunch of people will get together to do a super session on Google Wave.
I’m thinking of doing something about Twitter Apps – the good, bad & indifferent or maybe something else (depends how I feel).
During our busy lives it seems to me that we often let the chances for peace pass us by. And how does this happen?
It happens with our reactions to things, to events, to words and actions by other people. For example, the snappy response to a question asked when we’re busy, or the angry outburst when things don’t go as expected. The responses we make to these things can often lead to friction or bad feelings.
One of my old bosses used to tell me that I needed to act not react. His idea was that reaction was an instinctive, visceral and almost unthinking response. While he believed that action was a considered response to a particular person or situation.
Just think about this for a moment:
What would happen if we decided not to react instinctively to people or situations?
What would happen if we decided not to protect ourselves before it was necessary?
What would happen if we took a few breaths before acting instead of simply reacting?
Would this give peace more of a chance to grow in our lives? I’m going to give it a try, it’s a simple change that will cost nothing and it might just make the world a slightly better place.
Reviewing the pictures on the Blogtalk Downunder site and it occurred to me just now that I have not seen so many Mac notebooks in one place ever before. Then I went to check out one of the tools that was recommended Tinderbox – which only works on Macs. This subculture is one that I’ve not had much contact with. Generally, people I know seem to use either Windows or Linux – cannot think of one person I know who uses a Mac as their primary device. Anyone out there who uses a Mac – I’d be interested to know why.
PS: Must confess I used to have a Mac a few years ago but replaced it with Wintel due to incompatibility issues with family, friends and university.
The Democrats and the Australian Labor Party really need to get over the old idea of class war against the so-called ‘fat cats’ of the Republican or Australian Liberal Parties, and just get some policies that ordinary people can believe in.
A lot of people seem to be upset over the use of the word “fuck” in this post, but is more of a concern is the stereotypes that seem to be floating about in the political space. A failed leader of the Australian Labor Party once described himself as a good hater. This is a similar viewpoint to that espoused on Daily Kos, if that is the attitude of the people in the party no wonder voters were scared. Nothing positive can grow out of hatred.
This post at Daily Kos also highlights the politics of the word “fuck”.
Now my reading of it as a foreigner to the USA is that amongst some people it is used often and in a similar manner to “um”, and amongst others it is never voiced. To certain extent usage of the word seems to be split on geographic and age lines, i.e. people in rural areas and older people do not say it (or least not if ‘ladies’ are present), while people in larger cities and younger people use it quite frequently. Of course, there would be individual exceptions to this generalisation.
In Australia, use of the word “fuck” is more common amongst younger people, usage ranges from the word appearing in every sentence to the occasional ejaculation of the word in moments of extreme emotion. I have an Aussie friend living in Colorado Springs who recently advised he only uses the term “jeepers” at work as anything stronger is much frowned upon. Chuck is finding it quite difficult not to say “fuck” at his new place of employment. Whereas in Australia it was fine to say it as long as it was not in front of clients.
In the past “fuck” was a completely taboo word in Australia, but now it is common parlance and is even in television shows in early evening time slots. Now the last taboo word in Australia is “c**t“, but even this word is being used more frequently in conversation and on television. An interesting phenomenon with the word “c**t” is younger women claiming the word and turning it into a positive word in contrast to older more negative interpretations. This is similar to African Americans reclaiming terms previously used against them in a derogatory manner, or to immigrants to Australia reclaiming the word “wog” as a positive term.