Last night, we did a hyper-short meeting of my large Intro Interactive grad seminar, so that we were able to go to a panel discussion on race, gender, and age in the coverage of the election. One of the objectives of the day was to get folks Twittering, and so, in about 4 minutes, I showed them Twitter and got them to sign up. As we were headed out the door to parade across campus for the panel, I encouraged them to Twitter in the panel, using the hashtag “#501”.
OK, a quick aside. Many find live-twittering events annoying, since it results in a flood of posts. Had I the time, I would have set up an alt account to twitter the event. Someone complained (protected tweet, so I will not quote) about my own flood. As an aside, this poster noted that IRC was a more appropriate way to do this. In fact, students in this course regularly use IRC (via mibbit since our campus is port-unfriendly to IRC), but I wanted to expose them to Twitter and get them using it, and so this was an experiment in that direction.
With about a dozen people tweeting, the #501 hashtag quickly popped up on a number of trend analyzers on Twitter, eventually becoming the number one keyword on the Elections page. I was pretty surprised by this, to be honest. I don’t know how many people watch that page, but I suspect it’s a fairly large number of people who are heavily involved in tracking the elections. Having “#501” pop up was confusing to a lot of folks. Many seemed to think we were intentionally gaming the system. In fact, it was just a dozen people, many of them new accounts, twittering up a storm. If someone wanted so flood that system, it looks like it wouldn’t be that difficult.