I haven’t attended a large face-to-face conference in the learning field for over a year, so DevLearn 2010 was a new experience after so much professional time mostly online. The biggest difference was the sense of community, which I can directly attribute to micro-blogging, or Twitter. For the first time I met dozens of friends and colleagues with whom I had already established relationships and shared various aspects of my life. Fellow Tweeps (as some folks call them) don’t just say hi, they give you a great big hug. Fellow bloggers hardly ever do that.
Twitter has significantly changed the nature of online relationships. Facebook connects people who have usually already met. Blogs share bigger ideas and thoughts. LinkedIn is an online version of the old Rolodex. Twitter strips bare our communication by limiting it to 140 character bursts which gradually meld into a stream from which patterns emerge. These patterns are not intended or designed by the originator, but sensed by the observer. It’s difficult to hide your true personality on Twitter. Each person I met confirmed my impressions on Twitter.
Later in the conference, we saw how the #lrnchat gang at DevLearn emerged as a visible tribe on Thursday evening. I am sure that at next year’s DevLearn the name tags will include a Twitter identifier [take that as a hint, Brent Schlenker].
Twitter is becoming an important connection machine. Via one of my Twitter pals, Paul McConaughy, aka @minutrition, I watched this fascinating video yesterday:
Dr. Brené Brown says that, “Connection is why we’re here; it’s what gives purpose and meaning to our lives. This is what it’s all about.” What keeps many people out of connection is that they feel they are not worthy of connection. Brown explains that people with a stronger sense of belonging believe they are worthy of love and belonging. These people also fully embrace vulnerability. Her conclusion, from many observations and interviews, is that the best way to live is with vulnerability and to stop controlling and predicting. To me, this sounds like adopting a perspective of life in perpetual Beta. I think that the vulnerability we show when embracing social media is actually a path to a better life. All of those embraces at DevLearn are pretty strong evidence of that.