I felt very welcome.

Liverpool Life I’ve just got back from the first hopefully semi-regular Liverpool Twitter Festival at the Leaf Café on Parliament Street, and you know what? I had a wonderful time. We’ve talked before about my general reaction to these kinds of gatherings in which I’m faced with lots of people I don’t know. What energised me this time was that the majority of people were like me and besides, we did sort of know each other through the web application which inspired the event (or in the case of a few people we knew each other very well already).

This wasn’t an intimidating brace of strangers. I felt very welcome. On entry we were given the option of a id label which meant we could all identify one another through out Twitter usernames; that meant at the beginning of the evening there was the repeated sight of people craning their necks like meerkats trying to read the writing on the labels, but this settled down as names were put to faces and people who’d never met could at least begin a conversation with ‘Do I follow you?’ or ‘We follow each other.’

In that way it was a bit like a school reunion, as we asked one another what we were doing for a living, where we were living now and how we’d travelled there. Except this wasn’t a group of people you spent six or seven excruciating years with during your teens and you were still somehow umbilically connected to for the rest of each other's lives, but folks you genuinely wanted to spend time with and perhaps fill in the gaps between what little you'd already learnt through those updates of a hundred and forty characters.

A couple of people recognised me from my photograph and still more from my usernames. Some said they read this blog or knew of Liverpool Blogs. I met Adrian who I’ve known on and off online for years (see here and here) and who thought of @merseyshipping. I finally saw Alison and Laura and nattered with some of their colleagues from the Liverpool Daily Post, including David. There were a few people I also wanted to talk to that I recognised, but the night felt too short. Hopefully next time.

The Leaf Café is a lovely clean cosy venue with excellent food – well the sausage butties which constituted my tea were nice. There was an auction and raffle for charity (in aid of charity:water) of which two of the star attractions were a book and socks from @stephenfry. The socks went for more. I pushed the bidding up on a print from Pete Carr (whose photos of the event are here – see if you can spot me). But in the end all were too rich for me. The entertainment was supplied by a clutch of bands including the excellent 6ix Toys, though I felt slightly sorry for them because we were all fascinated by a nearby machine that blew bubbles if it detected the hash-tag.

I think you know you’re having a good night when you find yourself shouting ‘Bubbles!’ in unison with others.

Thanks Mandy and all!


Anonymous said...

It was an excellent evening. And great to finally meet you - as you say, it's been ages that we've been bouncing around comments and emails.

Mandy said...

Thanks for your lovely post. I'm very conscious that even the most confident people can feel intimidated by not knowing who is around, or what is going on, myself included - and my colleagues will tell you that I'm a big fan of anything that breaks down those initial barriers to starting a conversation.

When Andy, Alison and I first met at FACT to discuss Twestival (which was the first time we had all met!) we were keen to keep it informal, make opportunities to connect and raise some cash, in that order.

I feel Leaf supported those aims by being a cosy and homely venue, whilst being very hip and cool!

I'm not sure what will happen next time, but a few are very keen that we don't lose this momentum, and as you say, the night was too short to meet everyone I'd hoped to. It's likely that a tweetup is in order before too long to keep those real life conversations going!


Stuart Ian Burns said...

I do keep thinking about how much I enjoyed the night. I didn't feel any pressure, I could be myself. Perhaps too much but that's better than not at all, right?