I just stumbled across this link through the halls of Twitter this morning; the link is a wiki where someone who will be attending SXSW in a couple of months can post their twitter account.
I could be totally off my rocker, but this seems totally silly since last year, nearly EVERYONE was on Twitter already and that was before twitter exploded into an international phenomenon. Now, a year later. The small percentage of people who fell behind last year will likely be caught up, and the ones that aren’t will figure it out pretty fast when everyone is walking through the halls of the Austin convention center, looking down at their iPhones, muttering “f*%&ing twitter!”.
Which brings me to my next series of thoughts:
First, is twitter ready to handle the onslaught of this year’s SXSW twitteratti? I have seen all kinds of speculated numbers of growth, and talked to Alex Payne a couple of times in the last year about the hardware that’s powering twitter and it’s various interfaces (jabber, SMS, etc) and several months ago it was an absurdly powerful cluster of hardware. In order to handle SXSW08, they’re going to need some sort of miracle server.
My second thought is more about us, as users. Last year Twitter ruined the battery in my Treo650 and prompted the purchase of a blackberry. This was, of course, before the advent of m.twitter.com. Another thing to remember was that I was mostly adding new people throughout the conference and checking in on them. I didn’t have a ton of followers or people I was following.
This year…I’m a) on an iPhone that doesn’t have a changeable battery and b) following a few hundred people before I even touch down in Austin. Sounds like trouble to me.
Is Twitter going to be nearly as effective this year as last, or will it become too chatty and therefore, ineffective for conference-going uses?
A couple of ideas to resolve the issue:
1) Twitter does a proper implementation of groups, complete with shorthand.
While I realize this isn’t likely, it’s also not impossible and they have been talking about it since LAST year in Austin. Groups would let me message only the appropriate group of people, or the people that care. This would also leave the people who couldn’t come to the conference out of the line of fire when twitter gets really rowdy at the nighttime social events.
2) Hashtag adoption
A close second to the groups implementation, a follow hashtag/track hashtag feature would help. Since I’m not using twitter over SMS, track doesn’t help me in the least. I really wish it did, because I’d love to use it. Hey guys, make track work on my personal timeline, not just via SMS.
If I was to include the hashtag “#SXSW” and other relevant variants (“#OpenIDMeetup”, “#WordPressMeetup”, “#BarCampAustin”, etc), in tweets (which would be annoying, but doable), it could resolve some of the firehose. It’s still a hack, and has lots of holes and opportunities for missed messages, but hey…Twitter drops messages all the time so we really should be used to that by now.
3) Extra Phone/Twitter Device
If Twitter sold a Twitter-enabled device, I’d not only buy it but I’d probably pay a service fee. Sure, most of the time, I use my phone but in heavy-use cases (read: conferences) I’d be willing to carry something else to make sure that Twitter wasn’t killing my cell phone’s battery, and that I got optimum performance out of twitter.
Something like the Amazon Kindle, without the shitty design, but with the built in EVDO device so I didn’t need to be at a WIFI hotspot. Like I said, I’d pay for the service. Maybe not EVERY month, but I’d pay for a week-long pass during conference periods, and I’d probably pay upwards of $30-50 for that week-long pass – IF the battery life didn’t suck and if the message delivery was stable.
Since there PROBABLY won’t be a Twitter-handheld in the next 60 days, I may resolve to getting a cheap-o 2nd line on my ATT plan, with very low minutes but unlimited text messaging. I’d get a phone that was not only small, but had a changeable battery. It doesn’t even need to have a WAP browser, I can use my iPhone for that. This phone will be for TWITTER ONLY!
I really hope that Twitter usage is still viable for SXSW because it really enhanced the conference experience for me last year. Do you have any grand plans for how to make Twitter work for you this year?
Sometime in the next couple of months I need to do a re-vamp and re-post of my “How to Survive SXSW” post, since I’ve learned more about conference going in the last year.
[tags]twitter, SXSW, SXSWi, SXSW08, mobile devices, hashtags, battery, group interactions[/tags]