Following the Backchannel of #DevLearn

I’ve been hearing a lot about DevLearn these past couple of weeks. While admittedly I’m a little envious of those going, I know I’m better off making the best of what I have available. Luckily, with all the great technology and ways of communicating out there, and people so willing to use it, I can follow along through the backchannel. Not sure what the backchannel is? Fear not! David Kelly has written a post on what it is. I’ve been researching the schedule, and seeing what sessions I’d like to follow. I’ve also been communicating on Twitter with those I know will be there, and many who are presenting or hosting. DevLearn 2013 Logo

Challenges I’m Having

I am having one problem so far when it comes to the backchannel, but this is my first time following it this closely. I’ve been to other conferences before so I’ve been the one trying to Tweet about a session. One problem I experienced in the past was figuring out what hashtag to use for my Tweets so they don’t get lost in irrelevance land, far from all other Tweets from that session. I wasn’t missing anything because I was there, but if somebody’s only participating in the backchannel, it gets very difficult to have a sense of what’s happening, and find all the Tweets from various perspectives which are relevant to a session. I discussed my issue and my proposed solution some with David Kelly about DevLearn so I know others have thought about this problem, or even tried to solve it. Here’s my proposed solution, a bit more filled out than when I was talking with David.

What I Propose

Create a hashtag for each session so backchannel browsers can follow what’s going on. There may be a small possibility of this backfiring, but in the end, it would provide more benefits than drawbacks. Session specific hashtags would encourage a more active, consolidated, and organized backchannel for the conference. Think of all the benefits this could provide the event and help promote it for possible future attendees. Presenters don’t always know or care about the backchannel, some do! If they don’t, then one should be assigned to the session. Session specific hashtags could get unruly if you tagged the session ID on the session hashtag. Fifteen character hashtag? A shortened hashtag could be assigned (eg. #DL756). It would be unique but still manageably short for Twitters 140 character limit. This solution would bypass the presenter in most cases unless they were knowledgable about the use of hashtags and backchannel in which case they’re ahead of the game and welcome to use theirs. Official hashtags should be available in the conference materials so it’s with the session description and not one conference hashtag which only works well for general sessions.

What’s going on?

So much is going on at a big conference like DevLearn that I find one hashtag for the entire event is a bit overwhelming and can create a great deal of noise. A general hashtag is too broad of a category, and that’s what hashtags are all about. Of course I’m going to be paying attention to #DevLearn, and will gain some great insights into the conference, but it could be a simpler experience. If anybody knows of any resources from people making information available from the sessions they attend I would love to hear about it. Anything that can put us backchannel attendees in the know and not make us feel like second class citizens.

Where Did All This Come From?

Earlier this month Ryan Tracey wrote a post called Boiling the backchannel which discussed creating a healthy and lively backchannel for a conference. A big part of creating a lively backchannel is having it organized and easy to follow by those attending solely by way of the backchannel. He brings up some very valid points, the one I really believe in is to “inform everyone of the official hashtag.” For me, this goes beyond the main conference hashtag into the realm of hashtags for each session. I’m going to decipher, and gather what I can, but it could be easier, and should be.

Help Out the Backchannel

I’m going to be following a few people who I know are attending DevLearn and Livetweeting the sessions they’re attending. One thing I’d like is for any help in deciphering if there is a session specific hashtag being used so I don’t miss out on valuable information. I will update this post with anything I find out in the days leading up to the conference and during. I’m really looking forward to DevLearn and am very enthusiastic about all the great sessions I see.

Resources I Have Been Following

Please let me know if you know of any hashtags being used for sessions, if you’re livetweeting, or will be posting to your blog about sessions you’ve attended. Livetweeting #DevLearn Sessions

Blogs with #DevLearn Information