May 8, 2011

AMNH + Twitter = connecting with Leakey + Johanson

Posted by Dr. Laura Guertin

On Wednesday, May 4, I saw this tweet by the American Museum of Natural History (@AMNH):

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I was THRILLED to see that this talk between two amazing paleoanthropologists, Donald Johanson and Richard Leakey, was going to be shown online with a live video feed through ustream (I was in State College and unable to attend the lecture in person).  I’ve seen each person speak separately, never together.  And, a hashtag was established for the event #humanorigins, which was my cue to jump onto Twitter to participate on the Twitter backchannel.

So I’m in my hotel room and I visit the AMNH website to tune in for “Human Evolution and Why it Matters: A Conversation with Leakey and Johanson.”  I fire up TweetDeck so I can post and follow the hashtag.  And then began viewing a fascinating and engaging lecture, a lecture that I was even able to engage with via Twitter.  It was exciting, it was fun, and the witty comments by Leakey and Johanson kept all the tweeters busy!

Was watching the lecture online the same as being there in person?  Certainly not.  But having the opportunity to “participate” via Twitter allowed me to connect with others during the lecture, helping me feel that I wasn’t watching this online stream alone.

Then, a few days later, I receive a tweet from Kate Wong (@katewong), a Scientific American editor:

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I’m really surprised and honored that someone felt my tweets were worthy for a story!  Kate’s Storify is very well done – be sure to check it out to see how she used the tweets, and most importantly, learn about the latest views by Leakey and Johanson on human evolution.

Now, I need to learn more about Storify…

I hope more museums will broadcast live video streams when speakers come to town.  For example, dinosaur paleontologist Jack Horner is coming to speak at the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia – and yet, I’ll be back in State College.  It’s a shame I can’t be there to attend, to learn what Jack Horner has to say about dinosaurs.  Hopefully, there will be audience members tweeting!

The lecture by Leakey and Johanson can be listened to here (LINK) and viewed and below.