Tweckling? You've got to be twucking twidding me

presentingJennifer Preston of the New York Times posted a tweet about “tweckling” with a link to this article in The Chronicle for Higher Education. The article is about tweckling.

I would imagine your first two reactions to that last sentence are, “what the eff is tweckling?” and, “why the eff should I care?”. Well, to answer your first question, tweckling is the act of using Twitter to heckle speakers at conferences. The answer to your second question is, you shouldn’t, at all.

Now I don’t pretend to understand the world of academia or their high-falutin’ keynote speaking ways but I am shocked that any of them would actually give a crap about what some people in the audience would have to say about them on Twitter. But apparently they take this stuff pretty seriously.

One reaction was, “It appears that the nasty, vicious, backstabbing academic culture has reached a new low with the pack mentality of tweeters who vilify a speaker contemporaneously. Have intolerance and incivility reached the point where humiliating and attacking a speaker who does not ‘respect’ their time and expectations has become a new sport? I guess common decency and polite behavior fall to the wayside in the presence of the towering intellect of the elite and sarcastic critics who know it all.”

Well if the keynote speaker sounded like half as much of a douchebag as that I can’t say I blame the audience for tweckling them. God, I can’t even write the word “tweckling” without wanting to punch myself in the face.

At least someone seems to have some common sense on the subject, “The main impact of the Twitter backchannel will be an improvement over time in the quality of the presentations at conferences like this. I’ve experienced this several times. The Twitterverse is highly complimentary when such compliments are earned, and they are critical when the criticism is earned. How exactly is that a bad thing?”

Seriously, if people are making fun of you and talking about how bad your keynote is on Twitter, maybe it has a lot more to do with your keynote sucking and you being a douchebag than with “the electronic ‘Pack’ formed and attacked. Cowardly, cruel, Tweeters are hastening our rapidly declining social and moral standards and turning us into hateful boors.” (seriously someone said that).

And to the dolt that responded with this, “I have attended this conference in the past, and have even presented there (in a session, not as keynote). I wonder how hard it will be for the conference committee to get keynote presenters in the future. I wonder if people will think twice before submitting a presentation proposal – I know I will.”

You can’t even get a keynote in the first place! Pfft, a session? I could present at a session and I’m an idiot. If “tweckling” or throwing tomatoes or whatever is effective in making people think twice before going up and giving the same old rote keynote with no new information and expecting people to sit there like quiet little puppets until it’s over then so be it. If your skin is so soft and your foundation so weak that you’re actually bothered by what people are tweeting about your keynote, then it’s likely you’re not coming up with any groundbreaking ideas anyway so I doubt we’re missing much. Good riddance.

You know who doesn’t get “tweckled”? People who connect with their audience. Bottom line. If you’re giving a keynote and you can’t connect with your audience then the fact that they’re talking about you on twitter should be the least of your worries.


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