It seems appropriate I wouldn’t have even known about last week’s HighEdWeb regional conference at Cornell if not for Twitter. The hot site was a key thread of the conference, but Twitter’s success mirrors what the conference reinforced for me: Technology is great, but ultimately people are what count.
I jokingly referred to the conference as Twitter: Behind The Avatars, because I met a lot of neat folks I only knew from Twitter and gained a few more tweeps. I was one of the busy live-tweeters imparting information and interpretations for those not present. Though if you look through the #hewebcornell hash tags you’ll also see lots of snarky comments, jokes and even spirited debate over speakers’ points.
A very quick recap (140 characters or less) of speakers and key points:
* Dirk Swart (Cornell) on introductory usability: champion simplicity, make users comfortable, provide consistent layout, function > form.
* Rachel Reuben (New Paltz) and eduGurus, social media storytelling. Great minds emphasizing content, authenticity, building community, goals.
* Casey Dreier (Cornell) on launch sites: give subgroups hyperlocal content, make info delivery flexible, keep your sites interesting/fresh.
* Jesse Rodgers (Waterloo U) on project management: track issues; contain scope, cost, time; ID risks/alternatives; consider critical paths.
* Mark Greenfield (UBuffalo) on embracing change: What are colleges’ core competencies? What will be outsourced? Evolution key to survival.
At the end of the conference, I watched a few engaged higher-ed social-media types — @rachelreuben, @ICchris, @jakedaniel and @jrodgers — talking to @kprentiss about a fascinating project he’s developing. Preparing to leave, I realized that, even though I previously only knew most of these people via Twitter, I had thoughts to share with each of them: a compliment for a presentation, a good-luck for an exciting idea discussed, a thanks for making this fun. Sure, the technology brought us together, but ultimately what I found on the other end of the avatars were a lot of interesting folks. The things that connect us will come and go, but connections with quality people have the real lasting value.