Over the last few days Twitter has been ablaze with updates from this year’s Educause Learning Initiative conference. The flood of tweets certainly augmented my already considerable yearning to be there, and Tom Woodward of the Bionic Teaching blog does a nice job of distilling a few gems from his twitter stream in this post.
I expected the Twitter stream to relent a bit today with folks getting ready to depart, and the energy level being all but exhausted given the amount of activity that was apparent from afar. Early on today that assumption proved true, at least until the final Keynote speaker gave his talk. Almost immediately my twitter stream was in full swing asking a series of interrogative questions about this speaker’s approach. From there it seemed to get more and more animated with just how infuriating this talk was for many of my twitter-friendly, first-hand witnesses.
What was interesting was that it was a quite different means of reporting an event. It isn’t uncommon for people to live-blog a conference session (often amounting to a summary of what was said — which has its serious limits in my opinion). The Twitter explosion this morning was the first time I had seen a distributed live-reporting of a conference session that was doing something extremely different than rephrasing or responding to a session, it was an out-and-out group reaction to what the speaker was saying.
From my vantage point, receiving all these reactions second-hand via twitter offered a fascinating look into something other than what was being said at the podium, or the vicarious experience of “being there.” What it suggested to me was how the community thinks about what is being said. To hear a large number of people (all of whom I respect and trust) in my network respond to ideas they neither agree with nor, at times, can tolerate was both unbelievably entertaining and fascinating all at once.
As Kieramc (a fellow twitter-ite who was not at the event) tweeted: “This may be my fave ELI session this year.” I couldn’t agree with her more! It was a blast from the bleachers, in part because I didn’t have to sit (or is it suffer) through this talk, but also because the experience suggests a real pulse within the network. This was a moment of cognitive crisis in our “collective intelligences” which had immediate reverberations in the network (or in this case twitter — sorry if I am using Network a bit loosely here). Didn’t Martin Heidegger say something about heightened being in the face of crisis? Was it at that moment when his notion of authentic being manifested? I forget, but “daseins” are on the wall -or is it the Twitter screen in this case?