Yesterday was Twestival, in cities across the globe. I've written about my involvement in Edinburgh's Twestival before, so a quick follow up post is in order.
First up, here's the event's site: http://edinburgh.twestival.com/
The big numbers: over 300 people through the door and over ??5,300 raised for St Columba's Hospice in Edinburgh. Fantastic stuff from all involved.
As I said in my original post, I avoided much in the way of responsibility and just tried to help where I could. I took on the silent auction, which brought in nearly ??600, and tried to ask sensible questions along the way. It was great to see some Edinburgh Napier students volunteering too and getting stuck in on the night.
I don't have any profound 'social capital' related conclusions to draw from the night, particularly as I got little sleep last night and have eaten even less over the past few days. I can attest to the good feeling in the room and the floods of twitter-love that have been pouring in today. The event seemed to capture the sort of mood that people were looking for, giving them a chance to meet old friends, contribute to the fundraising pot and enjoy the music.
Maybe it's Twitter, maybe it's modern life, but it sometimes feels as though social media has given us a way to construct big networks of acquaintances, with only a minority turning into deeper friendships ??? I'm sure I'm not the first to make this observation. What I saw at #EdTwestival however was that although people spent much of their time in established friendship groups, there was an open invitation for others to join in the conversation. I was floating around drumming up bids for my silent auction and no one seemed to mind me interrupting their conversations.
There's also been a lot of tweets through today of the 'sorry we didn't get to meet up' or 'it's great to put a face to a Twitter name' variety. The interplay of virtual and real communications is important to people and I wonder how this plays itself out for folk. I suspect that at one level people see Twitter and social tools as part of the ongoing flow of their lives: working, social and information gathering. But in order to try and make sense of that stream of information maybe they (we) rely on an internal map to tell us which signs to take notice of: the tweeters to listen to depending on our mood, the themes to watch out for, etc. (I also suspect this helps people tune out: I've spent most of my Twitter social capital by banging on about the event so much!) Back to the map: it's a plan drawn out of experiences and connections, and I would hazard a guess that real life additions to the cartographic project count for more than virtual contributions. Is this a form of psychogeography, yet one that describes cerebral terrain rather than the physical?
Some people's capital stock has risen considerably: they have been active online during the planning, committed to the project and visible on the night. (I doubt anyone has suffered through connection with the project, they've just slipped under the radar perhaps.) The opportunities existed throughout the process to invest in your community and to see the community return their appreciation. Connections were made, relationships established and networks strengthened. What's more everyone had a good time.
Sadly however, there don't seem to be any pictures on Flickr yet with a CC licence, so here's @andrewburnett and @btocher from another event: the people, hat and possibly some of the clothing also featured at #EdTwestival 2011.