I have a love/hate relationship with Twitter. Twitter, for me, is like that crush I had in middle school. I love him. Ugh, how could he say that. OMG, he's walking to class with her? Swooon, he let me cut in line to sharpen my pencil. He is sooooooo dreamy.
In reality, Twitter is like Soylent Green. It's made up of people. And that means there is a little awesome, a little jerkiness and a lot of filler. Apparently, of late, one of the things that has created filler and jerkiness is the issue of live-tweeting.
I'm not going to re-hash the issue - you can read the background yourself:
As someone who has really paid not very much attention to this debate/debacle, I said some stuff which I stand by - that both sides took a couple of cheap shots and both sides were raising some interesting social more issues (similar to the kinds of issues I wrote about several weeks ago).
Now for some, the crux of the issue comes down to whether or not to live tweet. Judy Gombita asked me if I was for or against live tweeting. I responded that I needed more than 140 characters to answer. To me, that question is like asking if I am for or against hammers. Hammers are a great tool - handy for hanging a picture. But you can also kill someone with a hammer.
I've benefited from people live tweeting an event, specifically from Joe live tweeting an event. And I have certainly live tweeted events myself. One of the best times I had live tweeting and one when I believed the tweeting genuinely contributed to the conversation was at a Canadian Institute conference in Calgary in September - a conference at which Joe was co-chair. I was speaking there and was also one of the more experienced socmed folks attending. A number of the attendees were new to socmed and to the lingo and sometimes speakers didn't list URLs on their slides. So, a few of us were able to add an annotation layer onto the speakers' presentations.
Also, some audience members were able to recommend other links and tools in addition to what speakers were talking about: a true case of the wisdom of the crowd. We also used Twitter to throw out questions that some speakers picked up on.
This, to me, was an excellent use of live-tweeting.
I have also live-tweeted comments about presenters and presentations - commenting that they were selling from the stage, off-topic, or wearing awesome socks. (unfortunately, I can't find the older tweets - so you'll have to take my word for it that I may have said some unflattering things).
And I have been the recipient of both positive and negative Tweets, including those that said I should shut up and let other people talk (yes, a comment that still stings b/c I felt it was the antithesis of how I behave on panels - but I digress).
However, I still think people should live tweet. Because it is a way to actually capture the ambient wisdom of the crowd that is in the room as well as of the crowd that isn't in the room yet connected to the room. I know Joe a little and I believe that most of his live tweeting moves this lofty ambition forward.
I also think, as Ira alludes, that we should remember that a real person is on the end of every tweet. So, I now try not to live tweet something I wouldn't be willing to say to that person, in person.
Technology doesn't give us license to be uncivil, unkind or assaholic.
But as I said above, Twitter is People. And people are imperfect. As are our tools and technology.
Or, another way to look at it .. in the words of Bridget Jones (movie version)
Bridget: I'm so sorry. I didn't mean it. Well, I meant it, but I was so stupid that I didn't mean what I meant... After all, it's only a diary. Everyone knows diaries are just... full of crap.
Mark Darcy: Yes, I know that. I was just buying you a new one.
If we look at Twitter as a diary, maybe we should just all take a page from Mark Darcy's book and not take it all so personally.