Posts filed under: tools

wherein I consider the hows, whats, whys of Twitter at academic conferences

I am decidedly pro-Twitter, so I’m not going to spend a lot of time apologizing for it or even necessarily advocating for its use. Though if you push me, I will. I think that Twitter in particular (and FB to a lesser extent) provides an extra social layer of activity for conference goers, much better access for folks who aren’t there, and a crowdsourced guide to the area (making the academic conf less of a non-place a la Augé). And honestly, for those who aren’t interested in using it, there’s no real loss in either direction. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but it doesn’t need to be.

RSA is kind of an odd bird in our field, conference-wise, which is part of what’s got me thinking about this:


RSA, for those of us on the comp side of things, is the one conference that steadily and selectively publishes conference proceedings. As a result, I think that many people write the “publishable” version of their talks (and subsequently read them aloud), rather than versioning them out. I have to admit, the last thing I have time to do when I’m prepping for a conference is to write a whole separate version. I’m at a place where I simply do the presentation version, without worrying about the published volume. I still have my slides from 2010, for example.

All of this is by way of explaining why I …

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I wish I knew who to thank for this, but a couple of weeks ago, I got turned on to IFTTT, a simple little site with lots of interesting applications. I signed up for it, then forgot about it until a couple of days ago. IFTTT stands for “if this then that,” and it really isn’t more complicated than that. The site allows you to activate “channels” of activity, like WordPress, Twitter, Facebook, Evernote, Tumblr, and a bunch more. Then it allows you to set up conditional actions based on things that happen in those channels.

For example, if someone tweets with a particular hashtag, IFTTT can add it to a facebook page, post it on WordPress or Tumblr, create a note of it for you in Evernote, etc. I’m currently in the process of rejiggering my whole personal mecology, and I’m finding the potential for this tool to be pretty incredible.

So I was thinking: if you were running a conference, and wanted an easy way to archive those tweets that contain links to presentation scripts, videos, slide decks, et al., it’d involve two steps. First, I’d create a separate #hashtag for conference materials (no one wants to have to wade through 100s or 1000s of conference tweets to find those materials), and then, just set up a recipe on IFTTT to archive (on FB, WP, Tumblr, wherever) those tweets (and thus the links). Leave it on for a week or 2 after the conference, publicize the heck …

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