Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Why Twitter wins (again) at SXSW

As SXSW Interactive was ending, I was thinking today why Twitter is so successful in a convention setting.

I didn't make it to the convention center until Saturday, the 2nd day, but I was struck by how awful the phone service was. It was hard to get a call out, and even hard to get SMS messages out, especially from within the conference rooms.

I found out later I wasn't alone in my frustration. AT&T admitted their cell service was slammed by the amount of usage in the area, and I'm not surprised considering the iPhone to BlackBerry ratio was about 10-to-1 (as was the Macbook-to-PC ratio. It was like a flippin' Apple commercial.)

On the other hand, Wi-Fi in the convention center was pretty good. Hallways were sometimes rough, but I rarely had problems getting connections when I was at a panel. I know many folks were relying on Twitter to communicate directly with peers instead of SMS.

But of course there are other reasons it was successful.

* Those panels that encouraged the use of hash tags allowed both those within and out of the panel to follow along easily. I use Tweetie on the iPhone, which has a decent search, so I was able to flip over and see what other folks were saying about particular panels, even if I wasn't following them. Some examples: #sxswid (For panel on OpenID, OAuth in Enterprise; #wickedwire (for panel on Wireframes for the Wicked, which did a good job taking questions from both Twitter and the audience microphone); #sxswomnt (Old Media New Tricks, the panel by @statesman's Robert Quigley and @colonelTribune Daniel Honigman.) #tsma (Texas Social Media Awards) which was a party/awards ceremony hosted by the Statesman.)

* Finding and meeting friends. This is really a no-brainer and really part of what always make the Twitter community cool, even outside of conventions, but it was really handy here. Lunch sessions and flash mob coffee's were set. Meetup locations changed based on crowd control and more.


Daniel 10:56 PM  

Twitter wins again. High five. (Borat accent.)

Was awesome meeting you down there, man. Although you kicked my butt at pool. And those migas are really damn good.

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