Each year thousands of film enthusiasts make the annual pilgrimage to Park City for the Sundance Film Festival. In the past I have made the trek, but due to a prior engagement I will not be able to attend this year. I love the sense of community that can be found at a festival, thanks to the diversity of films and people who attend. Missing this year’s festival got me thinking about how I might be able to create the experience virtually.
THE FIND: A few weeks ago I came across a new community site called Twitter. The site enables users to communicate about whatever they like as long as it is 100 characters or less. At first I thought the concept was a bit crazy. What could I possibly say in 100 characters or less that others would find interesting? Eating pizza, working late, very tired on deadline… seemed a bit boring.
THE TEST: Then it hit me; Twitter would be an excellent tool for a group of people to document an event. Since it is short bursts of communication, it could work well within a festival environment. People texting about what they are watching, attending, drinking or who they are running into. It could also be used for people to rate, review, and even comment on the buzz coming from the festival. I suddenly realized the simplicity of Twitter.
Twitter became the inspiration for a mashup of mobile sites and services that I am calling a FEST MOB. Over a course of a day and a sleepless night, I cobbled together a social mobile network experiment that would allow people at the festival to communicate with those who wanted to experience it but could not attend.
THE RESULTS: http://workbookproject.com/mob
THE PROS: Besides being the inspiration for my social experiment, Twitter can be an interesting tool for those looking to connect with others. For instance carpools, play dates, parties, shows, and sporting events can use Twitter to provide a simple way to communicate easily with a group of people.
The site enables users to send and receive Twitters via a mobile phone, IM client or by using the site itself. Registration is simple and making friends is a matter of browsing the public section of the site. You are given your own Twitter space that can be customized. For those who want to take the conversation to their own pages, there are a number of widgets. Of note is the flash widget, which can be viewed at the fest mob page I setup. It requires the flash 9 plug-in.
THE CONS: Twitter is not for everyone. If you dislike idle chatter, then it might not be for you. Currently, the feature set is some what limited. For example, I wish you could bring a friends’ badge into your own pages, and I would love to see the ability to organize your friends into groups, so that you can choose who gets a message.
OVERALL: At first I was not sure what Twitter had to offer me, but then I got hooked. It is an effective way to communicate with others. If you are looking for a convenient way to blast an update to a group or just looking to meet some new people, then Twitter is definitely worth checking out.
RATING: 8 out of 10
ONE QUESTION: for Twitter’s Biz Stone
What are some of the ways people are using Twitter?
Biz Stone: “It is everything from poetic composed messages to buying salad at the grocery store. It is the mundane to the very exciting. Yesterday, we had a bunch of people at MacWorld watching Steve Job’s keynote, waiting for him to release the iphone and they were reporting from the show in real time. So, I guess we are looking to the users to really take it where every they want. We are just trying to make it device agnostic and very open and free.”
SIDE NOTE: For those of you who are interested in joining the “fest mob” experiment, it is open to everyone. Stop by and leave some comments, questions or just let everyone know what your favorite films are. I will be there feeding my festival fix.