The Meaning Is In The Moments | #140conf reflections [part II]

I’ve done a lot of thinking since I got back from #140conf12.  A lot of thinking.  Attendees were challenged  on the last day of the two-day event by the event curator Jeff Pulver to try to sum up the event in one sentence. I’ve been turning that question over in my mind ever since.

The tagline for the event, renamed this year ‘The State of Now’, was ‘search for meaning’ and I’ve spent the last few weeks trying looking for meaning, when the answer in plain sight.  The question is not only about the event, but is also one that anybody using social media [or the real-time web as Jeff – and I – prefer to call it] should be asking.  If you can’t explain why you’re doing it then it begs the question ‘should I be doing it at all?’.  Things have started to fall into place in the last few days, but a conversation with a former client and friend today added a few more pieces of the jigsaw.

There are a couple of quotes from movies that I love that sum up the meaning from the real-time web.  The first talks about how hard it is to live in the moment – the here and now.  With all of the  distractions of modern life it’s not easy to be present.  The second quote talks about inside every moment there’s another moment… and another moment inside that – everything happening simultaneously.  The real-time web is a bit like that – the important stuff, like in life, is inside the moments where people connect – whether its business or personal.  Recognizing those moments is where the real meaning of the real-time web can be found.

I wrote a post a few days ago about what social media can learn from radio – about the importance of one-to-one conversations, despite the delivery media being a broadcast [one to many] one.  Technology is only an enabler… it creates the moments, the opportunities – the value, or meaning, is about the connection – where people share ideas, solve problems, overcome adversity…

So next time you’re searching for meaning from the real-time web, focus on the moments –  the opportunities to be affected, or to affect somebody else’s life. The ability to strike up a conversation with anybody and share a moment with them. To share something special. Despite all of the noise created by the real-time Internet, there are some amazing, life-changing moments to be found – you just have to embrace them when you find them.


#140Conf12: Human-shaped, not business-shaped

At my first #140Conf in London in 2010 Stephen Fry explained that twitter was, ‘human-shaped, not business-shaped.’  I’ve yet to find a better description to describe Jeff Pulver’s 140 Conference events.

There are very few established ‘experts’ – and the ones that are are not of the self-appointed variety.  There are no lectures, no how-tos, no vendor pitches… there’s no ‘this is what I did – you should do it too…’ and there’s no simmering rivalry between the presenters [otherwise known as characters].  140 Conferences are about honesty, humanity and real stories of how social media has contributed to changing lives and about search for meaning from the real-time Internet.

There’s always lots of laughs; no shortage of hugs – rather than handshakes; and they re’s raw emotion – and sometimes tears; but what strikes me most is that 140 Conference events are about community.  There’s a sense of shared purpose amongst #140Conf attendees – they are there to find ways to use the real-time internet to make the world a better place.

I’ll post more about my specific experiences of this year’s event in the coming days, but as I decompress from the last three days in New York it strikes me that what defines 140 Conferences are the moments of shared humanity. They are opportunities to look beyond the digital souls of our online community and know that we’re not alone in wanting to make the world a better place.  I can’t think of a better testimony to both the value of the real-time Internet and The 140 Conference – can you?

Social Media – Finding Meaning from the Real Time Web [Part 1]

As a child I always looked forward to Christmas Eve because I knew that something amazing was going to happen.  As I write this post I can feel that same sense of excitement. Tonight is actually the night before the night before Christmas, but tomorrow I fly to New York City for #140ConfNYC, now known as The State of Now and I just know that it’s going to be an amazing few days.

The two-day event, organized by Jeff Pulver, isn’t like any other social media event I’ve been to because it’s not about self-appointed experts telling the audience how they should, or should not use social media to improve their lives.  It’s about people with stories to tell sharing their experiences.  Sometimes they are positive experiences; sometimes they’re not. What is guaranteed is that there are lessons that everybody can apply to how they use social media.

Actually, I’m resolved not to call it social media any more – I think the term Realtime Internet is a far more appropriate and accurate description.  If you have the chance during Tuesday or Wednesday this week to tune in I’d thoroughly recommend you take some time and attend the event.  Failing that you can watch a session or two via the live stream.

At a time when businesses are trying to figure out how the real-time Internet can benefit their organization you’ll not have a better opportunity than during The State of Now.