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May 23, 2008

Twittering the Plenary of the Medical Library Association Annual Meeting

I've been gone this week at the Medical Library Association annual meeting. I gave a bunch of talks (more on that later), and only really attended one major event (because I was working too hard!). The big event was the Plenary Session on Web 2.0. It was a superb intro to the fundamental social technologies of primary interest to medical librarians. They had a panel of four speakers (David Rothman, Amanda Etches-Johnson, Melissa Rethlefsen & Bart Ragon) introduced by Mark Funk, MLA President.

One of the presentations I gave was about Twitter. As readers of this blog are already aware, I like to live-tweet presentations I attend. This was no exception. ;) There had also been a GroupTweet account set up for the conference, and several people were twittering about the presentation to the group account. At the same time, they were dialoging about the event in their regular Twitter streams.

The event was webcast, and there ended up being a fascinating dialog between folks twittering the event in person and those attending via the web. The broader twittersphere caught wind of some of this, so there was also an 'external' dialog with non-medical librarians. In capturing the twitterlog, there were also sidebar discussions, one of which I preserved. While twittering away, I had a reference question from a cancer patient in NY. During the short break in between speakers, I took her question to our local Cancer Center librarian, Ruti Volk. Ruti gave me some short answers and contacts for fuller information, which I twittered back. During the session! So I was actually reporting out on the event at the same time I was answering reference questions, and partaking of the real world conversations to do so.

I thought it would be fascinating and perhaps a useful illustration of the power of Twitter to assemble the complete set of tweets relating to this noteworthy Plenary session. This might be especially of interest to people who are NOT currently using Twitter, to get a sense of what it might be like.

What I've done is this. First I collected all the tweets from the open GroupTweet stream that related to the plenary event. I put all the tweets in chronological order. I then checked the streams of everyone who was following the GroupTweet account for tweets during that 3 hour span of time. I embedded those in the appropriate place of the main stream, indented. Where there appeared to be a conversation going on, I placed the entire conversation (indented again) at the point of the beginning comment. Tweets included from people who were not following the main account were included only if they directly connected to the conversation, and were italicized to show that they are from 'outside', so to speak. Permission was requested to incorporate those tweets that were from protected streams.

The result is a mock up of what you might have seen if you followed Twitter and just followed the primary players in this discussion. See the results below.

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Posted by pfa at May 23, 2008 11:25 AM

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