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Bringing the backchannel to the foreground at InfoCamp

It is becoming well known that social media hashtags form a de facto backchannel wherever a critical mass of tech-savvy people congregate. At InfoCamp Berkeley, we wanted to encourage the Twitter/Flickr backchannel and bring it to the fore as much as made sense. Our hope was that this would encourage attendees to tweet and post photos during the event.

There were no tagged Flickr photos at the beginning of the event, so we displayed tweets as they came in using an AIR-based app called TwitterCamp. (As it happens, Twittercamp was developed for a BarCamp, so it made an appropriate home with us at InfoCamp.) TwitterCamp is not being developed or supported, but it works fine and is open source. When customized with our logos, it looked like this:



By mid-afternoon, Flickr had a amassed a good selection of event-tagged photos. We switched to Twitterfountain, which can display tweets against a Flickr slideshow. Here’s a still shot with Twitterfountain in the background:



Twitterfountain looked great, and at a slow speed it wasn’t too distracting. Unfortunately, though, it tended to loop over a small selection of photos instead of iterating through the entire tagset.

To see our Twitterfountain instance in action, click* here:

And that’s about it. We kept the backchannel onscreen during announcements and between sessions—not during, to avoid undue distractions. Although there is, of course, no way to judge the “success” of these tools, we felt they added some good buzz to the room.

*Disabled by default because it’s a bit of a CPU hog.

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