Last night I attended the Manchester Digital AGM. The primary reason for my attendance was to try to get my good friend, and collaborator, Stephen Greene, elected to the council. Having travelled in from Macclesfield I was little frustrated to discover that I couldn’t vote – I’m part of a Company membership, and only the Company gets a vote.
What I thought strange was the electoral process – there were no hustings. The emphasis for the evening was on the AGM, not the vote. Votes were cast at the beginning of the evening, so there really was little chance to get to know the candidates on the night. I guess the lesson learned for next year (particularly for Stephen) is that it is important to spend the next 12 months getting to know the movers and shakers in the Manchester Digital community, in time for next year’s election.
The AGM was my first attendance at a Manchester Digital event. I didn’t expect it to be too much of an opportunity to network – particularly as I made an early exit to watch Liverpool’s goalfest. But, it was a little frustrating this morning to awake and find that I had a new Twitter follower, who was also at the event, and had discovered me using TwitterSearch. Said new follower seemed as frustrated as I was that a chance to meet others had been wasted. To quote/tweet:
TweetDeck aided search reveals a number of tweeters attended the Manchester Digital AGM – but barely met any. Networking fail – grr.#mdagm09
Or to put it another way:
If a twitterer tweets and no one is around, does it make a noise?
Clearly not. Twitter’s weakness is that there is no real discovery mechanism. If I’m not already following someone, how do I discover them? I either find them on someone else’s network of followers, or I use hashtags.
HashTags are a great idea, but suffer from the same issue – discovery. How do I know what tag to follow? Case in point: Last night’s AGM was tweeted using the hashtags #manchesterdigital, #mdagm09 and #ManchesterDigitalAGM. Who decided which tag to use? Simple answer – the twitter author, at the time of their tweet.
Perhaps what is needed is a some sort of mechanism for establishing and discovering a hashtag before attending an event? Not sure. Many tags have a short shelf life, and are not always associated with events. But it would be good if I could visit, for example, the MDDA web site and discover a pre-established hashtag. Some sort of auto-discovery would be great ( think microformats, greasemonkey scripts). Or perhaps event organisers should simply publish a hashtag along with their event communications?
Now that I’m well and truly freelance, I’m hope attend MDDA affiliated events such as GeekUp and Northern Digitals. The people I know online, are mainly know to me by their username and avatar. I could be at the same event as them and not know they were there. I’d like to think that Twitter could come to my aid.
Think I’ll have another coffee, and see if I can come up with a solution to this organised chaos.