Jeff Pulver and the #140Conf in Tel Aviv

Jeff Pulver in Tel Aviv
Jeff Pulver in Tel Aviv

I have to say that I really love hearing Jeff Pulver speak. The first time that I saw him in person was at the Bird Brain Un-Conference. He is genuine and sincere in what he does. He believes in people, encourages them, and enjoys their success. The only problems with conferences like Bird Brain and 140Conf is that you only get to hear him for about 10 minutes. That’s it and then it’s time for the next person to go. Fortunately he can do a lot with 10 minutes.

Jeff opened up the conference by talking about how, with the help of twitter and social media, we are building our time capsules. Everything we say and do on the internet is stored. In the future, we’ll be able to look back on the stories that we’ve created through our words and pictures. We are documenting our own lives as they occur. We are leaving digital breadcrumbs to be shared. Human nature gives us the desire to be remembered. We all want to make a difference and stand out in the world. With networks like twitter, we are able to share the everyday story of ourselves. It’s pretty powerful stuff.

Being that the conference was in Tel Aviv, part of the panel (a whole 20 minutes!) was scheduled to talk about where Israel stands in the world, technologically and in the use of the real time web. I think that everyone would agree that Israel is a front runner in innovation and that Israel has had a very high impact on the high tech world. According to some of the pannel, Israel is lagging behind in its use of the real time web. I can understand where they are coming from – I happen to be the foursquare mayor of 3 different locations. It’s not that I’ve checked in all that often, it’s just that no one else has. On the other hand, Israel is a very small country, and if you consider the size of the US and how many small towns there are, I think that Israel is doing OK. It’s true that there is a lot of room to grow, but we can do it.

One thing that I did not agree with the panel on is that they didn’t think that a revolution like Facebook could come out of Israel. If there is anything that living on the web has taught me, it’s that there are no boundaries. To talk to people, all you need is an internet connection. Not only do I believe that incredible innovation can come out of Israel, I believe that it can come out of any country. The key is not to try to create something similar to twitter, but to create the next game changer, like twitter did. Don’t be copycats, be innovators.

For a one day conference, Jeff really pulled together people from all walks of Social Media life. Food, comedy, fashion, music, and art. Things that wouldn’t really seem to go over well in 140 characters or less. I never really thought about how other mediums need to express themselves with pure text. The key is that all these domains can influence people on an emotional level. Once we like the music or art or food, we want to share information and learn from others what they have to say. You probably won’t start listening to a singer’s music because you like his tweets, but you will be more interested in knowing that singer as a person if his music speaks to you.

We make ourselves cool by association. There are a lot of products out there that get talked about on the internet. Every time that we like a page on facebook or talk about it on twitter we are building our personal brand by associating with other brands.

Twitter can be used to save lives. A great example was how twitter was used in the recent earthquake in Haiti. It was amazing to hear spokespeople from the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) talk about the rescue mission that they conducted there. After the earthquake there was no goverenment to help with evacuation efforts. By listening to information that was being broadcast about where people were trapped, the IDF was able to find and rescue them.

In the world of the real time web, even the way that we are telling stories is changing. Twitter is a great way to create personas that can act out different plots. People can form emotional attachments to the characters as if they are real people, and then they can read the live drama as it occurs in the twitter feed. It’s really cool. I’ve heard about a project that happened before Passover, where the different bible characters tweeted out the Exodus. It can make the story come alive.

A teenager was also one of the speakers. Michael Matias spoke about what it’s like to grow up in the real time web. We’ve only experienced it as adults, but to grow up in a constant information environment is a very different thing all together. He is constantly online. Even when he watches television, he is connected to his computer. When asked if he had to choose between the TV or the computer, which would it be, he answered that he couldn’t make that choice. It would be like choosing between his mother and father. I find that a bit scary. On the other hand, he was able to attend classes in Israel while he was in New York with the help of a live feed from his classroom.

The last session was about ways to use Social Media for social good. Promoting causes, like clean water in third world countries with Twestivals and raising awareness of Gilad Shalit by trending topics were talked about. You can even donate your tweets through to raise awareness for the cause of your choice. It’s really amazing. I have talked about the amazing things that Romeo the Cat and Frugal Dougal have done to help support animal shelters for a while now. Their pawpawty’s raise real money to do good.

It’s truly amazing how much reach we each have from our computers. What are you putting in your own personal time capsule?