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Nadworny: Creative Uses of Social Media

05/17/10 5:55PM By Rich Nadworny
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(HOST) Commentator Rich Nadworny recently attended an event where he learned about some very creative uses of social media.

(NADWORNY) Last month I attended a social media conference in New York called the #140 Conference.  The 140 represents the number of characters in a Twitter Tweet.  True to its name, the conference presentations were short and sweet.  This had some advantages; you didn't have to endure the not-so-inspiring speakers for very long.  On the other hand, those great speakers disappeared far too quickly!

One thing I came away with was that there are a number of people doing some really interesting things with technology and social media.  Here's just a sample.

In Jerusalem, the Wailing Wall inspired a young man by the name of Alon Nir to try an experiment.  The wall is the last edifice of the second temple of Jerusalem.  It's one of the holiest places in Judaism.  It's a custom to write down your prayers and stick them in-between the bricks in the Wall.

Alon's idea was to let people Tweet their prayers on Twitter, and he'd roll them up on pieces of paper and stick them in the Wall.  Alon's TweetYourPrayers concept became a huge hit, in part because some major media outlets picked up on the story.  All of a sudden Alon was faced with rolling up 3,000 prayers a week!  With some friends, he jerry-rigged a sewing machine to roll up all of those prayers.  A guard helped him stuff the prayers in the Wall itself.  Now he's received hundreds of emails telling him how those prayers helped improve people's lives.

One of the highlights of the conference was an eighth grade class from a Catholic girls' school in Queens, New York.  Their English teacher had them read Animal Farm by George Orwell.  Rather than simply writing a book report, the kids chose a character from the book and then blogged about what the characters experienced.  They also Tweeted with each other in an ongoing discussion between characters on Twitter.

Watching these girls recount their experiences as they talked, sang and performed on stage was amazing.  It showed how technology was an integral part of a collaborative project, rather than just an after-thought.  The part that was the biggest eye-opener was the fact that the kids' parents could actually follow along online to see what the kids were doing as part of thier schoolwork!

There was a lot of discussion around education and technology during these two days.  But people were using the technology for projects as diverse as helping victims of sexual abuse to helping reform the criminal justice system.  The #140 Conference was really a display of human imagination, showing how people can use social media creatively to help one another, once they put their minds to it.

It was a good reminder that it's the people, not the technology, that are the core of the social media juggernaut.
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