The other day, Owen Thomas at Valleywag smirked about the audience at Times Open that “sat and Twittered instead of listening to the speaker”. To which I say, take a look at our tweets and you’ll see that people were listening intently.
I’m glad that Congress isn’t reading Valleywag: CNN reports that members of Congress twittered through Obama’s big speech:
Members of Congress twittered their way through President Obama’s nationally televised speech Tuesday night, providing a first-of-its-kind running commentary that took users of the social networking site inside the packed House chamber.
I hope this mainstream use of Twitter inspires audiences to play a more active role not only as listeners but also contributors to the conversations that good speeches are designed to inspire.
Of course, there remains the question of establishing social norms for live audiences who are torn between looking at the speaker and typing. Ironically, I remember being yelled at in class for *not* taking notes! Perhaps the people who most need coaching at the speakers who have to face live-tweeting audiences. Here’s some advice on the subject from speaking expert Olivia Mitchell.