For the last year and a half, Jeff Pulver (@jeffpulver on Twitter) has been hosting 140 Character Conferences, all over the US and globe, including NYC, LA, London, Tel Aviv, Barcelona, SXSW, DC, and San Francisco.
Last week, Pulver’s conference came to Boston, and I was lucky enough to attend.
Perennial Boston favorites Chris Brogan, Bobbie Carlton, C.C. Chapman, Jeff Cutler, Steve Garfield, and Christopher S. Penn, were also all on hand, among the various speakers, to talk about the impact of the real-time Internet on life and work.
At Boston Tweetup’s June kickoff for the 140 Conference, Pulver noted that we are in the midst of a revolution, in which social platforms have disrupted every business sector, including “real estate, public safety, the music industry, video, politics, celebrities…” The way we connect with people has changed fundamentally,” Pulver explained. Importantly, he added, companies today realize they have to listen.
A Tapestry In Progress
As I sift through my conference notes, trying to capture the spirit of last week’s 140 Character Conference, I’m finding there were way too many vibrant voices, to single out a few sessions or speakers, without losing some sense of the whole. It was like a perfectly woven tapestry, that I’m reluctant to unravel too much, as its impact was cumulative.
Are You Ready To Be a Superhero?
Christopher S. Penn framed themes for the entire conference, in the session “Awakening your superhero“, with the power of social media. In his talk, Penn reminded his audience, of the ethical responsibilities that come with new social media capabilities.
“When you see someone in need, you have an obligation to help,” Penn observed. To be in a position to make that difference at the personal, institutional, and societal level, Penn advised actively building your network every day.
Social Media for Good/Social Media for Everyone
The following sessions are just a sampling of the ones that inspired me, or illustrated how social media has gone mainstream:
- Real-time Education: This was a panel discussion on educating children for the world to come, with Kirsten Olson (@bhsprincipal) – Author of Wounded By School and the principal of Old Sow Educational Consulting, Patrick Larkin (@bhsprincipal) – Burlington High School (MA) Principal, and Tony Baldasaro (@baldy7) – Virtual Learning Academy Charter School, Chief Human Resource Officer Personalized Pathways Administrator.
- My Family’s Incredible Story: How the Real time Web Is Helping Us Share Our Story: Nelson de Witt (@dewittn), Chief Story Teller at Ana’s Miracle, shared his familiy’s story about separation during El Salvador’s civil war and their journey to reunite. He also talked about how they are using social media and the real time Internet to share their story.
- Lemonade – The Story Behind the Story
Erik Proulx (@eproulx), from Please Feed the Animals, described how his blog for the unemployed advertising professional evolved into a documentary film on how these professionals are reinventing themselves in a layoff economy.
- The Need for Innovation in the Military
TroopSwap co-founder Blake Hall (@troopswap) described how Enterprise 2.0 can benefit the military, in combat.
- Real-time Web and Public Safety
John Daley ( @Boston_Police,) Deputy Superintendent, Boston Police, explained how Twitter is allowing the Boston Police to communicate information and be more responsive.
- Leveraging Vulnerability in the Real-Time Web
Geo Geller(@geogeller), Artist, Inventor, Photographer, Andy Dixon (@andydixn| @breakouttour) singer, songwriter, author, and Jessica Murray (@JessicaRMurray), Community Liaison for Social Media Club, introduced the BreakOUT Tour ~Breaking Kids Out of Prision Before They Get In.
- Crowdsourcing Cancer
Alicia C. Staley (@stales), 3 time cancer survivor, discussed a new site for Crowdsourcing Cancer, coming Dec. 15th, which will provide a network for cancer survivors, committed to seek, source, solve, and continue to survive cancer, together.
- How I Became an Entrepreneur
Lane Sutton (@kidcriticusa), Social Media Strategist/Entrepreneur/Writer (and a 13-yr-old kid), described his site, at KidCriticUSA, where he critiques movies, books, activities, and restaurants , from a kid’s perspective.
I also really liked Julien Smith’s soulful session, “The Primal Diaspora,” which provides tips from the co-author of Trust Agents (@julien), on finding happiness and forging more authentic relationships, in a Web 2.0 world.
For a more complete description of speakers and sessions, see the #140conf Boston schedule.
A Life Conference
If you still don’t “get” social media, I highly recommend attending a 140 Character Conference near you, to hear about first-hand the impact and pervasiveness of social media, across all aspects of life.
The power of the 140 Character Conference ultimately lies in the collective patterns that emerge from the various speakers’ individual messages… and how these stories add up to something greater than one person or industry, and even the moment at hand. As Pulver said, “This isn’t a technology conference; this is a life conference.”