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#140conf: Falling In Love With The Real-Time Web

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Seminars  /  Social Media

Are you attending the #140conf next week? Ping me. We’ll hug. #140conf is described as “a platform for the worldwide twitter community to: listen, connect, share and engage with each other, while collectively exploring the effects of the emerging real-time internet on business.” But takeaways extend well beyond what one learns at #140conf events. Read on for the inside skinny.

My experiences with the 140 Character Conference can be boiled down to two prevailing themes: serendipity and humanity. I know I’m not the only one who feels this way. Seven months ago, I was gliding through my Twitter stream when a new acquaintance tweeted something along the lines of: “@beebow are you coming to the #140conf meetup tomorrow night?” Enter stage right: serendipity.

Losing My Tweetup V-Card
I knew nothing about the event beyond its apparent association with Twitter. I didn’t know who it targeted, who the speakers were or what the topics would be. I registered to attend anyway. I’d spent a year plunking away on TweetDeck, digging the real-time web but feeling disconnected from real, live people. It was high-time to have my tweetup cherry popped.

On Wednesday, September 19th at the New World Stages in New York City, it was. I felt instantly addicted to the almost tangible levels of excitement, achievement, optimism and encouragement pulsing against the theatre walls. When the next NYC #140conf meetup rolled around, I signed up and jumped back into the hashtag stream. With genuine enthusiasm, I tweeted to relative strangers: “Looking forward to meeting you tonight at #140conf!”

When I saw those “strangers” in person, we bear-hugged.

No exaggeration. That’s just how it is. That’s the warm, welcoming feeling generated by #140conf and the people it attracts.

Enter stage left: humanity.

What I Love Most About #140conf
The target audience for these events is undefined, and therefore, all-encompassing. It brings together corporate CEOs, average Joes, formerly shy @beebows and everyone in between. From fashion designers to psychologistsjournalists, professors, hospitality managers, musicians, actors, mommy bloggers… these people aren’t just event attendees… they’re panelists. They’re keynote speakers. I’m serious. At the two day conference in Hollywood last year, I listened as the CEO of Kodak talked about how he used Twitter to increase sales and brand loyalty. Next up was a woman living on the streets of Chicago, telling a misty-eyed audience how she tweets SMS messages from her archaic flip phone to “escape from her world and connect with others,” and rendezvous with activists to help raise cause awareness.

“People might say that your voice doesn’t matter,”#140conf creator Jeff Pulver often says. “I would argue that it matters a lot.”

And that’s what he’s doing with the 140 Character Conference. He’s providing a stage and a mic for us to share our story of achieving personal success through Twitter. The coolest part is that in this environment, the concept of “success” is totally malleable. Success can mean making money- it can mean making friends. It’s not the definition that matters, it’s the feeling you get. The serendipitious nature of #140conf brings us together, and the humanity it extracts binds us as bear-hugging friends.

What The World Loves About #140conf
In a few days I’ll be heading back to my old stomping grounds to speak at the 140 Character Conference in New York. To get the party started, I polled #140conf evangelists and first-timers alike to get their take on the upcoming event, and scoured the hashtag stream for other exciting gems…

“The 140conf fosters serendipity. [See? I told you!] It seems like Jeff purposefully architects the event in order to squeeze as many different industries and personalities into a two day period. This makes the event unique because you end up meeting so many different people you would have never met otherwise. I love the warmth of the 140conf crowd. It’s not like a regular event. There’s hugging and friendship as opposed to cold pitches and handshakes.” A.J. Leon | @ajleon

“The 140conf for me is a chance to see all the people I care about on Twitter in real life. Jeff Pulver gives everyone that he sees a hug and that sets the tone for event. The 140conf is not a Twitter conference- it is a conference about the human web and that’s why we love it.” Melissa Leon | @melissaleon

“I love the event itself. The meetups and the conference are an amazing atmosphere to meet others in the space and hear – in byte-sized morsels – their take on tech. The ideas that come in from start-ups, users, technologists, lay-people and geeks are tremendous. As an attendee, you can meet a lot of people from a lot of different spheres – in and out of the State of Now.” Andre Archimbaud|@arshimbo

“The most significant reason I find the 140 Conference valuable is because of the platform it provides to connect and engage with the people I most want to meet, in terms of personal development and just because I find them intriguing or entertaining… [it gives] us social media-inclined folks a way to first make a warm connection online, and then bring that into our offline lives.” Emily Cavalier | @EmilysPearl

“[At 140conf, you] bring your expectations and leave with fresh thoughts and ideas that will stimulate you to the miraculous. Because that is what happens when people meet, trust, engage, believe, conceive, and achieve.” Andy Dickson | @andydixn

“Twitter and the community it has built was instrumental in getting me through endless hours, days & weeks of Chemotherapy. I was able to communicate and be social without people seeing how sick I was, how awful I looked and without giving me that look of pity. It inspired me every day to meet more people, hear more stories and be a part of something bigger. #140Conf for me is a way of meeting people in real life, strengthening existing friendships and assures me that the best way to know someone is face to face.” Brian Simpson | @bsimi

“Social media and construction/real estate don’t, on their surface, seem like an ideal marriage of concepts. My field is mired in ‘tradition,’ and any innovation that is changes the status quo more than a few degrees is generally shunned for years. For a while I’ve been experimenting with and looking for ways to integrate social media into what I do without it seeming tacked-on or gimmicky. I’m hoping to glean something from the idea-sharing at #140conf and its ilk that I can use to help promote myself and my product.” Justin Hornung | @morningkill

“I’m a first timer at 140conf but I’ve heard great things about it from past attendees, especially those who attend the [frequent] meetups in NYC. I’m looking forward to the wide variety of topics, even though it all revolves around one big topic (Twitter).  I often hear people questioning the value in Twitter, and this shows how Twitter can add value in a wide variety of ways in different industries, countries.” Jon Thomas|@story_jon

Why The World Wants To Attend #140Conf
I wasn’t kidding about the hug thing. Ping away :)
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5 Comments

  1. Melissa DelGaudio on April 15, 2010 at 5:31 pm

    Beautiful post, Lauren! I’m sorry that I was late in getting back to you, but 140 is conference unlike any other. It’s full of great information, sure, but it’s so much more than that. I’ve met and become friends — really friends — with so many people as a direct result of my attendance last Fall.

    At 140, everyone is on equal footing. Everyone is there to share. Everyone is there to learn. And, yes. Everyone is there to give big ol’ bear hugs (I’ll be front and center to give you one next week!)

    Jeff has done a wonderful thing in creating this event. He’s given us all … each other. For that, I’ll be ever-thankful.

  2. Lauren Litwinka on April 15, 2010 at 5:43 pm

    @Melissa – No apologies necessary, awesomely thoughtful comments work just as well :) You and I are in the same boat (uh, literally, right? Ahoy, friend-I-made-solely-thanks-to-the-#140conf-hashtag!)- I have made friendships through 140 that have even withstood my move to Minnesota, and I can’t wait to see them all (you included) next week. Twitter has always been and probably always will be a level playing field for everyone, but not every face-to-face event follows suit- you’re right, 140conf does place us all on equal footing- an incredible thing. Jeff has wonderful intentions and the ambition & resources to put them to action. “He’s given us all… each other.” That nearly made my eyes well up! Excellently put. See you next week :)

  3. Stuart Tracte on April 15, 2010 at 6:59 pm

    Great post, Lauren! I also apologize for not getting back to you in time. Having been at both the NYC and LA conferences, as well as a handful of the NYC #140conf meetups, I can say first hand that Jeff has built a community like no other. #140conf attendees get the opportunity to learn about what people from all walks of life are doing with Twitter to enhance their lives and business. That is valuable information for all that have the privilege to attend. The added bonus is the relationships that have been built thanks to Jeff and his mission. I can truly say that I have built some wonderful friendships with like minded people thanks to Jeff and the 140 Characters Conference. I agree with Melissa when she said, “He’s given us all…each other” I second that notion, and can’t wait to build more wonderful relationships thanks to Jeff and #140conf.

  4. Justin Hornung on April 16, 2010 at 8:47 am

    Fantastic read, as per usual! I was already looking forward to #140conf, but your post has painted such an inviting portrait of the atmosphere to a newcomer like myself that I’m now like a kid counting down to Christmas. Thanks, Santa Lauren!

  5. Lauren Litwinka on April 16, 2010 at 3:04 pm

    @Stuart – Same for Melissa goes for you, no apologies! I’m sorry I couldn’t include you in the post but I’m glad you took the time to share your thoughts here. I agree- the #140conf clan is unique and genuine, and knowledge shared seems to know no limits. Looking forward to seeing you next week :)

    @Justin – Ho ho ho, you’re welcome, little boy! Seriously though, I expect you’ll have a kick butt time. And we get to join awesome forces in person, so that speaks for itself. Thanks for the props :)

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