Tuesday, November 2, 2010


I was talking to a colleague the other day and we started talking about conferences and the people we know. I realized that I know a lot of people in the HCI (Human Computer Interaction) community because of twitter. I use twitter far more than Facebook now, in part because of the lack of pretense that my data is private. I have a large, close community on twitter and communicate with people frequently through that medium. In addition, I have used twitter information to meet up with some HCI researchers. I see you tweet that you're in Minneapolis, I'll probably say, "hey, what's happening? we should meet up." I've also gotten to know a number of researchers more in depth than I could have via blogs or at conferences.

During conferences, twitter often becomes a lifeline. I can instantly post notes, get in touch with people, and have discussions about research. Going through my followers list I kept saying, I didn't know her and then we met at a conference, I met him at a conference and then added him, we presented in the same session, etc. It is fascinating to me how important these ties are, especially with other grad students. Knowing other grad students at other institutions and being able to immediately contact them and draw on their knowledge makes me a better researcher. (e,g. HELP. I need to find a paper comparing instant messaging to face-to-face communication.)

These connections have done many things for me. I've found roommates for conferences, planned group trips, and found collaborators. And tonight all of us HCI researchers seem to be on twitter to discuss politics.

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