How we got sucked into live-tweeting at conferences

What live-tweeting looks like from the stage

What live-tweeting looks like from the stage

Me: “My name is Carolyn, and I live-tweet at conferences . . .”

You (all together now):  “Hello, Carolyn!”

Yes, dear readers, I’m talking about the obsessive practice of live-tweeting to your Twitter followers those awkward little bits and pieces of a speaker’s presentation at conferences, meetings or major events.

I’m also talking from the perspective of a person who has both been onstage as a conference speaker in front of an audience of people who are live-tweeting what I’m saying, AND who has also furiously live-tweeted other conference speakers.  And here’s why I’ve finally become a recovering live-tweeter.   Continue reading

The Google Glass hypefest: “Look at me! Look at me!”

google-glass-On my early morning walks along the sea wall, I used to regularly see a man upon whose shoulder perched a large parrot. As we approached each other on the path, this man would smile his vaguely goofy big smile at me, while motioning towards the parrot with a sideways head bob to make sure that I noticed the bird. He looked pathetically eager to draw attention to himself (and really, why else would he walk around town wearing a real live parrot on his shoulder?)

His was the silent screech: “Look at me! Look at me! Notice anything?”  And because some perverse part of me recoils at paying any attention whatsoever to those who seem so cloyingly needy, my response every morning was to just look away until both man and bird were nicely behind me on that path.

Sadly, I’m now seeing a variation of that vaguely goofy big smile on Twitter.  These belong in the profile photos of tech geeks who are beta testing The Next Big Thing, which is, of course, Google Glass. Their gleeful faces too seem to screech at the rest of us: “Look at me! Look at me! Notice anything?”   Continue reading

Should doctors use their real names on social media?

Generally speaking, news editors rarely accept for publication any letters to the editor that are submitted anonymously. To do so would merely encourage the trolls to spew forth.  Discouraging anonymity is a good thing, I believe, because the jerk-to-normal person ratio out there is already perilously high even without encouragement. For example, the Toronto Star – unless agreeing to specific requests to protect confidentiality for valid reasons –  is just one of many that advise readers:

“Letters to the editor must include the writer’s full name – anonymous letters and letters written under pseudonyms will not be considered. For verification purposes, they must also include the writer’s home address, e-mail address and telephone numbers. Writers should disclose any personal or financial interest in the subject matter of their letters.”

And imagine what would happen if The Star or other media outlets let us just willy-nilly vent publicly under fake names whenever we like.

Oh. Wait a minute. That’s already allowed, and it’s called social media.   Continue reading

PhD in analyzing text messages. Seriously.

My previous post here about Rev. Neil Elliot‘s PhD in snowboarding confirmed what I’ve long suspected about graduate degrees: all the good thesis topics have been taken.

Not surprisingly, Dr. Dude picked up his snowboarding doctorate from a  U.K. university: Kingston University in London. This is a fairly new school (granted its Higher Education Corporation status in 1993) but I did learn from its website that the campus is a handy 25-minute train ride from central London, which says something, I guess.

The U.K., alas, has a disturbingly murky reputation as a mecca for weird and wacky higher education goals.  Continue reading

Self-tracking tech revolution? Not so fast…

When the report called Tracking for Health was released last month, media headlines announced:

“Over Two-Thirds Track Health Indicators!”

This statistic, borrowed from the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project’s report, referred to the 69 per cent of people who say they keep track of things like their weight, exercise, heart rate, food, stress or other health indicators. It also, however, includes almost half of self-reporting trackers who, according to Pew’s Susannah Fox, track these health indicators for themselves or others  – but only in their heads.

Surprisingly, very few headlines ran the real news from the report:

“Only 21% Use Technology to Self-Track!”  Continue reading