Live tweeting a performance – from the other side

Quite without planning it, I found myself live-tweeting on the opening night of a recent production of Secret Bridesmaids’ Business by Elizabeth Coleman (for Toowoomba’s Empire Theatre). I happened to be in my dressing-room doing a final email check of best wishes and ‘Chookas‘ when the Stage Manager gave the company stand-by call for beginners. That was me – I was a beginner – on first. I felt the familiar excited ‘tingle’ in my fingers; this is my own pre-show adrenalin-rush.

Impulsively, I tweeted that I was about to go on stage and mentioned the buzz out front and backstage. I knew many of my friends and theatre colleagues would be online at the time. They also knew I was in a show, and some knew it was opening night. I made up a hashtag on the spot, #secretbridesmaidsbiz, and off that first tweet went. At various intervals during the next two and a half hours I sent out more tweets. These ‘push’ tweets turned into a running commentary on what was happening at that performance and how I was feeling about it.

Whist I have live-tweeted shows as an audience member in the past – once at the request of a company during action on stage, but more often at interval or afterwards – I realised that, for the first time, I was live-tweeting a performance from my perspective as an actor. Now, this is not new, of course; Jane Fonda live-tweeted from backstage when she was performing on Broadway in 33 Variations a couple of seasons ago. It was, however, a whole new experience for me – live-tweeting from the other side. Continue reading “Live tweeting a performance – from the other side”

Twitter: to follow or not to follow? That is the question.

Like many who use social networking software to engage in conversation, I’d characterise myself as a heavy Twitter-user.  And the more I use Twitter, the more followers I get; it’s the nature of viral communication.  I’m now followed by 1400 + people – small beans compared with some.  Now, I follow some who don’t follow me, but that’s my choice; they have something of value to offer me.  I’m not offended if I follow someone and they don’t follow back … though it’s interesting who in the big-name stakes actually do follow back and, even at times, respond to a message.

As far as those who follow me, perhaps they feel my posts are useful or interesting, maybe even valuable – I’d hope so – but as to what that is, and why many follow me, I’m never going to know. Why? I simply never hear from them again after the auto-email from Twitter arrives telling me that I have a new follower.  I check their details; no bio – no follow for a start. Self-proclaimed experts or sales pitches are immediate blocks or no-follows, but in deciding whether or not to follow a new follower,  there’s one rule that I am pretty much sticking to come what may.

I send out a regular welcome note to all new followers telling them how I use Twitter – this is only fair I think – asking them to send me a @ message to make contact. If I don’t get this, I don’t follow. Period. Few lately are responding, leading me to conclude that they’re not reading their messages, not serious, or not real.

As I generally end my welcome message ‘I’m at the Twitter party for conversation, not the crowd.’

All the results live: the Matildas on Twitter

Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...
Image via CrunchBase

For the rest of us who couldn’t be at Brisbane’s Matilda Awards tonight at the Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts, Twitter came to the rescue. Pete Foley (@iusebiro) and Katherine Lyall-Watson (@arts_tart) live-tweeted the event minute by minute. This is where social media used well is absolutely brilliant! Thanks to them, the event was beamed out live via desktop and mobile phone.

This is the stream which we’ve embedded below to give you an idea of how the news unfolded tonight. Scroll down and read for yourself. If you don’t already have a Twitter account, what are you waiting for!

Congratulations to all the winners! It was a night to celebrate indie theatre.

Arts Education – what should we teach and how?

There’s a Twitter discussion happening right now hashtagged #artsed .  The hashtag acts as a search key for tweets that have anything to do with arts education, but this particular thread of the discussion is focussing on the issue of professional training for artists – more particularly theatre artists, and especially actors.  The originating posts are from the US but, such is the nature of Twitter, anyone from anywhere can jump in and contribute – it’s a democratic open house in the Twitter stream.  The current thread is tackling a matter dear to my heart and to those others who are participating.

However, there’s only so much you can say in Twitter’s 140 character delimited conversation bites and, inevitably, you long for another venue to continue the conversation at more length. I’ve turned here to my own scratch pad/blog, and perhaps others will join in the conversation. Continue reading “Arts Education – what should we teach and how?”

Tribal Markings: hashtags

I found myself explaining the purpose of hashtags this morning on my Facebook page.  I’d posted to my news feed about a livestreaming event happening later in the day, with a reminder that hashtagging it would enable the conversation to be tracked.  Someone asked what a hashtag was.  Oh, how easily we forget that not everyone tosses around this jargon the way early adaptors (sometimes referred to as ‘geeks’) tend to do!  Here’s one definition

… a hashtag is a word preceded by a hash sign (#) that is collectively used by a group in their tweets, blog titles, videos, and pics to track discussions, events, conferences etc. It’s a good idea to keep them as specific, and short as possible e.g., a search in Twitter for #qldtheatre (a hashtag unique… to materials relating to theatre in Qld) will bring up any item tagged that way.

Another group had noted a definition of their own hashtag as a way for members of their ‘tribe’ to stay connected in discussions, events of various kinds, and to tag their posts, images etc.

In my wild, erratic fancy I imagined the humble hash mark # as a new kind of tribal marker. If you want to know more about this tribes conceit for groups connected in some way, see Seth Godin‘s terrific e-book Tribes.  It’s free to download along with other materials on tribal stuff at his site and to pass on – and don’t forget to hashtag it when you do #tribes.

Bye the bye, earlier in the week I watched a video shot by some Google folk.  It was a vox-pop kind of thing; interviewer approaches people in a crowded street – it looked like NYC – and asked them ‘Do you know what a web browser is?’  Like most of the general population they had a pretty fair idea; at least they knew it was a way to access the internet, even if they got it mixed up a bit at times.  The commentary on the blog post which referenced this video was shocked!  Well, maybe some members of various geek tribes were, but I’m not shocked by this response one-little-bit.  The good people who’d had a microphone and a camera shoved in their faces did pretty well – in fact I’d grade them a decent B to B+.  They knew how to use the web after all.  Baby steps, folks …

Anyhow, this post is about nothing so much as a random observation about how we’re constantly foxed by assumptions – that others know things that we, or someone else think they should know.  Well, how else will they learn if we don’t tell ’em.  I’m reminded of the first axiom of teaching: Assume nothing.

Group or Page: What’s best on Facebook for an arts company?

Google Analytics: SML Pro Blog Traffic Sources...
Image by See-ming Lee ??? SML via Flickr

I’ve been a fan for a long time of the blog/website as the hub of an individual’s or a group’s digital world.  Couple a blog with various outlier social networking applications like Twitter, Facebook, Flickr and so on, and you expand your outreach.  Not everyone uses social networking, though with over half a million signing up every day for Facebook, that most ubiquitous of apps, it’s kind of hard to believe. Facebook at the end of 2010 was the leading social network in the world.

Nowadays with the gradual federation of apps and services ‘talking’ to one another, it’s possible to provide a way for just about anyone with access to the web to engage with you, your group, and others who want to get in contact.

If you maintain a blog as your hub, the downside is that you you almost always have to travel outside your hub to access outlier material, though this is getting easier – see my post on using Friendfeed in this way. [UPDATE: Friendfeed sadly is no longer the wunderkind of aggregating services it once was. FYI it was bought out by Facebook]

On most blogs you can set up links or widgets that show your latest status on Facebook, your latest Tweets and those of the people your follow, your photos from Flickr, an RSS feed to keep readers up to date with your posts and so on.

Is there a one-stop for all of this, as well as an app that goes where most of the activity is?  Well, with the imminent demise or at least withering on the vine of the really good Friendfeed, it seems that Facebook has a way.  A current Facebook user can set up a page to leverage his or her ‘business.’  I’ve posted some links below that give you a solid introduction to what these ‘business’ Pages are, and how they differ from Facebook Groups.

Whatever you do, don’t use a Facebook Profile (regular ‘personal’ page) for your group.

You’ll max out at 5,000 friends, and you’re aiming for more than that, right?

Facebook Pages vs Facebook Groups: What’s the Difference?
This comprehensive post from the Mashable folk is really all you need to know to make a decision.

Marketing Your Business on Facebook

Facebook Business: Page or a Group? (video)

Leveraging a Facebook Business Page (video)