Yesterday, I attended the Blog Carolinas conference, which was held at Sigma Xi, in RTP. I had a wonderful time! It was an excellent mixture of conference and "unconference". There were both planned presentations and dynamic sessions that were suggested by attendees, who led them if the topics generated enough interest. Despite the high quality of both the planned and unplanned sessions, the best part, by far, was meeting other Twitter users. It was a tremendous amount of fun observing and participating in conversations during the actual sessions while also tweeting about what the presenter was trying to convey.
I quickly discovered that it far easier to meet new people at a conference if you are using Twitter, particularly if you are tweeting using the conference hashtag, in this case #blogcarolinas. I was effectively live blogging or taking notes on what I considered to be the main points of each session and others who were attending the conference or following along from a remote location, could see them using twemes.com or hashtags.org. Here is what our aggregated conference conversation looked like on twemes. Some presenters actually viewed the #blogcarolinas Twitter stream during their presentation, as @gilliatt did in his presentation on Monitoring and Metrics, which can be seen above.
I was using my Treo 700p and sending text messages to tweet during the conference and I actually think that both using a miniature keyboard and being limited to Twitter's 140 character message limit actually improves note taking, because it forces one to condense the information and only record what is perceived to be important, which means that it's actually a lot more engaging. I can just imagine how I would have enjoyed and perhaps benefited from college even more if I could have tweeted during my classes. The possibilities in a classroom setting, including a less disruptive way to ask classmates for clarifications or provide them with supplemental information, seem endless.
One "unconference" session, led by @93octane, was on Twitter itself. In fact, this was the most lively, if not heated, discussion I observed during the day. The argument was over whether Twitter is useful and why blogs are better than Twitter. The majority of the participants thought that Twitter was extremely useful and that comparing it to blogging tools was effectively like comparing apples and oranges. Not only are they different, there's no reason why you shouldn't eat both.
Check out photos from Blog Carolinas that were posted to Flickr.