As what usually happens when one is sick at home, in their pajamas, and having a pity party of one, I looked to Facebook for some entertainment and/or virtual company. I noticed that a number of my friends (for the record: also ‘real life’ friends) were posting about art and Los Angeles and some gathering. Some were posting on Facebook from Twitter and had #ConvergeLA. Well, I just finished watching a series on Netflix, emotionally drained (darn you Walter White!), and couldn’t talk or go anywhere, so I decided to follow the stream on Twitter.
Arts For LA hosted the 2013 LA Convergence, “a biennial day of collaboration, conversation, and shared goal setting for those working to make Los Angeles a healthy, vibrant, and prosperous region through arts and culture.” Through tweets, retweets, and top tweets. I was able to get a bit of a snapshot as to what struck a chord with some of the attendees– at least those who were tweeting. For example, the connection between art and STEM– STEAM— resonated with a lot of people, especially when one of the panelists mentioned that 86% of MIT students play music.
In addition to learning, I was able to participate by direct messaging people who were tweeting as well as responding and asking questions via retweets. Direct messaging was akin to passing notes, while retweeting and quoting tweets were like raising my hands. I even “networked” a bit. Someone who saw one of my retweets visited my Twitter profile, clicked the link to this website, learned that we had similar interests and community work, sent me a message, and now we are connected. One of the presenters saw my tweet asking about the presentation material and tweeted back that she could send it to me.
Of course there were limitations to the live stream experience, e.g., I was only privy to the information and thoughts of those who were tweeting. And social media should never replace human interaction. But this experience was a reminder that social media serves a much bigger purpose than just letting your friends know what you had for breakfast, sharing vacation pictures for people to envy, memes, and learning what the fox said.
Social media is truly another tool in community engagement.
Notes: I have participated in live tweets and chats before. Perhaps because I was focused and not multi-tasking (e-mailing, on the phone, etc.), this one *almost* felt like I was actually in the room.