Attention, Twitter and TED

I attended TEDx Cambridge this month. While I might be tempted to recap the sessions and the ideas presented, I won’t. What was more unique to me was the experience.

Instagram Photo

Over the last several years, I was surrounded by live-tweeting at conferences, being always connected, and generally being a social media you-know-what. That will always have its value, but I long ago learned its limits; a little goes a long way.

TEDx Cambridge was a little different; while there was no prohibition on connected devices or Tweeting, and I certainly had my tablet open to use Evernote, the organizers created an atmosphere of attention.

The resulting experience was different; the short, ten – minute presentations, helped by speaker coaching, created their own bubble of concentration, but there was a feeling, I felt, among the crowd that most people didn’t want to be “that person” who was buried in their device rather than the speakers.

Will I share my notes? Nah. The talks are ten minutes, and can easily be digested (though here is a Tweet summary from those who managed to multitask as I did not). Likely, some of them will spur action – whether or not that is reflected in a blog post – but that is for another time.

As for attention: does this mean we should put away our tips at events? Absolutely not. But it does reinforce the notion of balance: balance among listening, notes, and sharing. Everything in its best proportion. Always use your judgment.

photo credit: Sheen Benavente on Instagram

One Comment

  1. […] In the near-decade since “live blogging” events has been a thing, there has been debate about its utility – those arguments tend to extend to attendees live-tweeting, leading to an audience with noses buried in phones. I have tended to agree it’s generally not a bad thing, depending on the context of the event (see my post about how TedX Cambridge created an “atmosphere of attention”). […]

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