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Tweetups: Meeting the people behind the tweets

By C.J. CASTILLO
Sept. 5, 2009 at 4:05 a.m.


By now, many of us are familiar with Twitter, the micro-blogging, 140-characters-or-less, social media site that you either love, hate or just don't get.

For those of you not familiar, let me give you the Reader's Digest version: Twitter.com is a Web site where you can post updates limited to 140 characters. Did you have pancakes for lunch? You can "tweet" (Twitter language for post or status update) that. Did you witness a newsworthy event (plane crash in the Hudson, car accident on Navarro)? You can tweet that, too.

On Friday, Aug. 28, a group of Twitter users joined together for one of the first official "tweetups" in Victoria. The Victoria Tweetup (official name of the event) was held at the Hardback Cafe in Hastings.

A tweetup is a meeting of Twitter users. The purpose of a tweetup is simply to meet with other users on Twitter, meet face to face and communicate in person.

A tweetup is not a gathering where everyone is just sitting behind their laptops, notebooks, mobile phones, etc., posting updates on Twitter, avoiding eye contact and not talking. Some tweeting is involved, but usually it's limited to people posting photos of said tweetup or sending updates like, "I'm at the tweetup!"

Tweetups are pretty common in larger cities, so when we first began organizing this event, I wondered how many people would attend.

To my surprise, we had about 25 people attend the tweetup, which is not too shabby for the first event of this sort in Victoria... and one which I helped organized. Seriously, with me in charge of the tweetup, it's amazing we didn't end up with just me and my cat Mango sitting in the Hastings parking lot, drinking Mr. Pibb and listening to Journey on my car stereo. (Maybe next time.)

I wanted to find out why some of the people (or "tweeps" as they are also called on Twitter) attended the tweetup, so I asked a few of them, via Twitter of course.

Nelson Jackson, Twitter username @nel1jack, said he "was just interested in meeting this group of people who have a common interest. 'What are you doing?' 140 characters at a time."

"I liked the idea of people who don't really know each other except through short messages getting together and meeting for the first time, putting a face to a name, and also telling people how much I enjoy reading their updates," said Tim Lara, Twitter user @timothydanger. "Meeting new tweeps was nice too. I gained a couple of tweethearts since then and enjoy the banter. (My twitter is never serious)."

A second tweetup hosted by the Victoria Advocate is currently in the works, and once the date and location is determined, we'll post the details on our Twitter account @vicadvocate.

In the meantime, I have some pancakes that are calling my name. Maybe I'll tweet about it.

CJ Castillo is the interactivity editor for the Victoria Advocate. You can follow her on Twitter (@cjcastillo) or contact her at cjcastillo@vicad.com or sent care of Victoria Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77902.

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