I was speaking yesterday at a conference in Brussels called #140conf, about EUROCONTROL’s social media response to the volcanic ashcloud crisis (presentation here). I had great fun yesterday and learned a lot, maybe because I had great fun doing so :-).
After the conference, I couldn’t go to sleep and was thinking about all the interesting insights shared by the other speakers, and about the conversations I had later on with attendees. Some of these I had been in contact with virtually through Twitter or via blogs, and I only really “knew” one person in this conference. But what was really odd is the proximity I felt with some of these people, just because of virtual exchanges.
When real-time becomes even more real
During this conference, exploring the “State of now”, it became clear to me that real-time Internet was there to stay and that it brought about amazing value to Internet users. Large screens were displaying live tweets using the #140conf hashtag while I was speaking. People were listening and tweeting, taking pictures and tweeting them, sharing links to the presentations that the speakers were exploring at the very same time. This made it possible for people not present at the conference but connected to Twitter to still feel that they were a part of it, and that they too could share some of the insightful exchanges occurring in that dark room.
Real-time Internet is great to give you a sense of “now” and to let you be virtually part of something you can’t attend, but I just felt “hell, it’s just not the same to be here for real”!
Why virtual life enhances real life
The event was a great success in my view. But it highlighted another element of social interactions which I usually am fond of exploring in the virtual web environment: virtual encounters that become real encounters are even more real than encounters that happen by chance.
Let me explain this. It doesn’t mean that you’re never disappointed when meeting someone in flesh and bone that you had only exchanged with virtually. But it does however help you to skim. Despite them being virtual, social networks, if used honestly, are a great plunge into your personality, your likes and dislike, what makes you unique or special.
The Twitter crowd I have been following and exchanging with during the last few weeks and on which I could yesterday put faces on at last, was way beyond expectations – witty, smart, fun, sociable and eager to share.
So, to cut a long story short, the real world remains the realm of my choice, but the virtual world makes it to a certain extent such a much nicer place to dwell in! And as @mindblob gracefully pictured it in a presentation that literally threw me off my chair, “Social media: It is all happening in real life”.
For some great inspiration on social media, check out the other #140conf speakers on Twitter and their presentations (find the link on their tweets) during that evening: